April 3, 2023

NYU PALA Students at Bologna Children’s Book Fair, 60th Anniversary

By NYU MS in Publishing Students

On March 3rd, four students from the MS in Publishing program traveled to Italy to attend the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF), which was celebrating  its 60th anniversary. BCBF ran until March 9th, and featured hundreds of events and over one thousand exhibitors from 90 countries. Our students provided support for the fair’s organizers by assisting with social media and supplementing educational programs. Here are those student’s reflections on the highlights of their experiences!

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From left, Laura Bourbonnais, Olivia Whetstone, Lauren McLemore, and Abigail Jordan

Olivia Whetstone:

I assisted the social media and communications team in sharing the magic of BCBF as head blogger for the BCBF website, Fair Tales. Each day, I attended a series of panels and shared the key takeaways on the blog. In addition, I also  provided proofreading support and wrote copy for the daily “What’s ON” posts, which advertised that day’s premiere panels on social media.

The panels at BCBF were all centered around timely topics in the industry, from censorship issues to the implications of AI for illustrators, and I learned a lot from the panels throughout the week. 

It was incredible to see publishing professionals from all around the world come together for what HarperCollins Children’s VP and Associate Publisher Jean McGinley described as “book-focused speed dating.”

Overall, volunteering at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair was a fantastic experience which  broadened my knowledge of the global publishing industry, and gave me the opportunity to share my newfound insight with others. I hope to have the chance  to attend the 61st Anniversary  in 2024!

Laura Bourbonnais:

One of the most exciting aspects of this year’s fair was the brand extension known as Bologna Book Plus (BB+), which provides education and events for a more general publishing market. I supported BB+’s event programming, which featured Q&A panels, professionally led masterclasses and workshops, as well as a bubbly Women’s Day champagne celebration (cue the dancing)! I particularly enjoyed BB+ events highlighting how to become more environmentally neutral within publishing, the evolution of audiobooks, scouting literary translations, Ukrainian resilience in publishing, and accessibility within the world of illustrated books.

It was thrilling to meet Jean McGinley, as Olivia mentioned, as well as Jen Loja, President of Penguin Young Readers, and Our meetings were informal and felt more like a conversation interspersed with questions about their work, background, and the industry. They were both practical, down-to-earth people who gave us constructive, worthwhile advice and tips. 

I am really lucky to have gotten the chance to attend the fair and work with the staff as a volunteer. I met so many lovely people with such different yet always impressive publishing backgrounds.

Abigail Jordon:

As a first-generation American with a Caribbean background, I was looking forward to seeing the kind of representation displayed at the fair. What a beautiful sight to see books in other languages and cultures on display. Wandering through the corridors of the fair, perusing books and listening to talks, I felt that every action contributes to the global community. Being introduced to other countries' and regions’ books is something that I might have otherwise never experienced. My goal in publishing has always been to help diversify the industry because I know firsthand of the beauty to be found when stories from different places, cultures, and belief systems are told. Being fully absorbed into a global space for children’s literature was the highlight of my attendance. 

Being surrounded by fellow lovers of children’s books and media was incredible. Everything was so vibrant and full of life, which translates over into the stories the publishers brought to share with the rest of the world.

Lauren McLemore:

There was so much to learn, so many questions to ask, and so many incredible participants when it came to guiding us through the world of children’s books. 

As part of the fair’s press team, I focused heavily on photography for the blog and social media channels. Being on assignment each day allowed me to wander through the fair looking for exciting moments to capture. I walked wall-to-wall in each gallery and felt like I got to experience the full breadth of what BCBF had to offer. 

I really enjoyed observing our social media team leader, Silvia, because she was so knowledgeable about what was important when it came to marketing the fair. Her attention to detail, even down to the captions and the audio we used in our Instagram reels, was inspiring. I walked away at the end of the week with a wealth of new knowledge about posting and writing captions and marketing events.

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