Hello there Roberta Chinni, Manager at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair

Fiera del Libro 2015 - Bologna

Masterclass Dust or Magic, Centro Servizi Blocco D. 29 Marzo Roberta Chinni. Photo: Bologna Children’s Book Fair

An entire hall devoted as digital space, huge exhibition featuring 50 artists with their masterpieces and Germany as the star of a very rich program. With two months to go before the opening of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the world’s largest international book fair for children’s literature, there are not so many quiet moments for the BCBF staff. Nevertheless, we decided to ask Manager Roberta Chinni how the work is progressing…

Two months to go before the opening of the BCBF, how is the work getting on?

The organization of the new edition of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair is already well underway.

About 10 days ago the panel of Jurors of the Illustrators Exhibition was here in Bologna to select the artwork we will present during the Fair. This year we invited Francine Bouchet, Nathan Fox, Klaus Humann, Taro Miura and Sergio Ruzzier: they have chosen 77 artists who will have the opportunity to be seen by all major children’s book publishers.

2016 will mark the 50th Anniversary of this Exhibition: we are preparing an additional exhibition featuring 50 artists with their masterpieces, 50 illustrators that have contributed to make this event significant and unique. This Exhibition will also be accompanied by a special catalogue.

The next steps will be the BolognaRagazzi Award and Digital Awards Jury: they will focus on the best books from the graphic and editorial design and on the most intellingent and innovative apps.

We are working also on several programmes: the traditional Cafés will host a number of talks covering very diverse subjects, from illustration to writing, from licensing to distribution.

Besides we are working on a complete restyling of the website and developing activities that will be finalized after the Fair in other venues…. Well, yes we are busy!

What´s new in this year’s Book Fair?

For the past few years, we have focused special attention on digital evolution in the publishing industry. For the 2016 edition, we decided to devote an entire hall (Hall 32) to an expanded digital space: Bologna Digital Media: a dynamic and vibrant new hub where publishers, developers, TV and cinema producers, animation studios, artists and authors will take part in an exciting programme that will mix startups with established brands to take advantage of the many opportunities offered by the ever expanding digital world.

This year’s Guest of Honor is Germany, can you say anything about the program?

“Look!” is the title chosen by Germany to present itself as the 2016 Guest of honor country. The logo, created for participation and features three colorful birds, is the work of the famous and award-winning illustrator Ole Könnecke. Germany will be the star of a very rich program: they will present an exhibition of 30 young illustrators over a surface of around 300 square meters. Also there will be an additional section including books of the most talented and internationally recognized German Illustrators.

We are working in close cooperation with the Frankfurt Book Fair and the Goethe-Institut in Italy to set up a line of interesting panels, featuring both young and well-established illustrators. The programme will also extend over the city, with activities and shows in the main libraries.

Besides the German collective booth will be especially rich in terms of publishers and proposals.

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Bologna Children’s Book Fair

You’ve worked a long time at the Book Fair, how has the Bologna Children’s Book Fair developed during the last years?

I started working at the Fair in summer of the year 2000, taking over a group that had run the Fair for a very long time. The Fair has developed a lot since: it is now a more professional platform and it offers a much richer programme devoted to the key roles in children’s publishing: the Translators Centre has been created, the Illustrators Exhibition has grown a lot, the most important international Awards receive greater attention, a full programme on Licensing was started to offer more opportunities to publishers and we are also starting partnerships abroad to bring the Fair experience and contents into different countries.

In recent years we developed an important programme of events devoted to children and families: workshops and exhibitions and many books available for a real children’s book festival.

Another important issue is extending the reach of the Fair also abroad: the Illustrators Exhibition traditionally travels to Japan but we have also planned an additional tour that will bring it to China.

Besides this, we organized last December our first conference abroad, the Global Kids Connect Conference, hold in New York City, and presented in co-operation with Publishers Weekly: the results were very good and there was an interesting and passionate discussion on children’s literature and publishing under the auspices of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in a completely different setting and timing.

What significance does the city of Bologna have for the book fair?

The city has definitely played an important role, even if until a few years ago Bologna was not very well know abroad outside the world of children’s publishing.

Nevertheless we have an ancient tradition of hospitality, a worldwide renown cuisine and a medieval city centre to visit and enjoy. During the Fair the city hosts an exciting programme of exhibitions, talks and meetings allowing all visitors and exhibitors to enjoy more art and culture while networking in a relax context.

The charms of the city combined with the mild Italian Spring have contributed to create a warm atmosphere which perfectly fits the really creative category of “children’s book professional”.

Finally, a more personal question – what’s your favorite part of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair?

It would be impossible to pick any! Each area, each initiative, each part really means something different: they offer the chance to meet incredibly creative people in the most diverse areas, people that quite often become friends over time…

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Photo: Bologna Children’s Book Fair

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