TIA Trends Specialist Attends Bologna Children's Book Fair and Kids Licensing Forum

The 46th annual Bologna Children’s Book Fair just wrapped up in Bologna, Italy (March 23-26th). More than 5,000 attendees from 69 countries attended this annual event to see more than 1,300 exhibitors representing the best in children’s literature and licensing. 

TIA Toy Trends specialist Reyne Rice attended the show and presented at the Kids Licensing Forum. She reported that “buyers were ‘picking well’ and ‘focusing’ – industry buzz words for a higher level of selectivity. Which is not at all surprising given the current world economy.”

According to Rice, there were no breakthrough introductions – although major publishers including Scholastic and Harper Collins continue to explore electronic and multi-platform publishing. Tried and true brands persevered with publishers continuing to introduce new releases from their big-name authors as well as new twists on classics such as Robinson Crusoe.

Other highlights of the event included:

  • All things supernatural in the burgeoning tween category, following the success of such properties such as Twilight, Graceling, and The Battle of the Labyrinth series.
  • A gallery show dedicated to renowned illustrator Roberto Innocenti, whose unique style of “metaphysical realism” has won him the coveted 2008 Hans Christian Andersen Prize; his work also adorned the Fair’s 2009 show guide cover.
  • "Round, Round and in a Circle,” an exhibit celebrating the literature and vivid illustration art of Korea, showcased this nation’s strong ties to animation, cartooning, and bold graphic design. 
  • The 2nd Annual Kids Licensing Forum was a perfect platform for sharing U.S. licensing trends. The Fair’s TV/Film & Licensing Centre helps facilitate new business connections, copyright exchange and licensing agreements among children’s book publishers, toy companies,  licensors and TV/film production companies. 
  • Myriad examples of re-invigorated book sales – for both existing and new properties – via licensing platforms in a broader range of categories. Sales of Roger Hargreaves’ popular Mr. Men and Little Miss books rose 60% in 2008 due to the increased TV exposure; Fisher-Price has the rights to produce toyetic products for this property in the USA. 
  • One of the world’s most important literary prizes, The Astrid Lindgren Award, was given to the Tamer Institute for Community Education, a group helping children in Gaza and the West Bank to read and write, taking a prize of  $630,000 in memory of the author of "Pippi Longstocking." 
  • A major announcement that Academy Award winning director Steven Spielberg has optioned the rights to direct Scholastic’s 39 Clues as a major motion picture.

Next year’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair will be held March 22–25, 2010.