Publishing visits the Bologna Book Fair

Students and staff from the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies recently visited the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Helen Swain, a student on the European Master in Publishing, reports:

Bologna welcomed Claire Squires, Caroline Hamilton and a number of Oxford Brookes students for the Children’s Book Fair 2008 on April 1 and 2. The beautiful, sun-drenched city itself caused immediate general infatuation of the eyes and taste buds, and initial impressions of the Book Fair were that it was smaller and more compact than its counterpart in Frankfurt. The Fair featured a significant graphic presence, with an impressive exhibition of illustrators’ drawings from all over the world and several interviews in the Illustrators’ Cafe. Another interesting aspect of the fair was the series of lectures and interviews on the subject of translation.

Meetings had been arranged for us, beginning with Fiona Kenshole, a scout for Laika Entertainment, which creates animated films, and her colleague Cath. Fiona described herself as a personal shopper for directors; her role consists of finding ideas to start off films, and so she meets agents at fairs such as Bologna to discover emerging books. Cath was animated, enthusiastic and dramatic as, with an exaggerated discretion reminiscent of Inspector Clouseau, she described the process of finding and managing scriptwriters, directors and illustrators to turn the books into films.

Later on, we met another type of scout, Gill McLay, a Brookes alumna who set up the first of only eight scouting agencies for children’s literature in the world with her husband John McLay. They also organise the Bath Festival of Children’s Literature. Their work is carried out in the greatest secrecy as they work to scout out children’s books around the world for publishers and film clients in 16 countries.

Robert Seath, International Sales Manager at Lion and Hudson, offered us a different kind of drama with a useful role-play of co-edition negotiation, helped out by two class members. Helen Speedy, Rights Executive at Orion Children’s Books and a Brookes alumna, also spoke about co-editions. 

Meetings also took place with John Clement of Moonlight Publishing, Anja Mundt, the Head of Rights and Licensing at Patmos Verlagshaus and a Brookes alumna, Catherine Clarke, a literary agent at the Felicity Bryan Agency, and Paula Näkkilä of Usborne Publishing Ltd. Some reiterated points were how much preparation and efficiency are required to work a book fair successfully; that, while languages are not essential for work in rights, they are an advantage in creating a relationship of mutual trust; and that we should all learn to network shamelessly as quickly as possible.

The sad atmosphere of a book fair being dismantled is a little like the departure of the circus. We had seen it full of energy, movement and colour; as we left, the stands contained fewer or no books and the busy, glamorous people had left to follow up on their notes. However, it is certain that the vitality of the Fair and the beauty of Bologna itself will entice more than one of us back again next year. Not to mention the gelati… 

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 21 Apr 2008 around 7pm

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