It is third year since the programm of Latvian Book Fair which is packed with cultural events can offer also the events for book professionals organized in cooperation with ALDUS consortium and European Union Literature Prize EUPL). Thanks to the fact that Latvian Publishers Association is partner in ALDUS project, we have opportunity to invite EUPL laureates to visit our bookfair and to organize the professional conferences. So, the international conference: “In Search of Success Factors in Current Reality of Book (Fair) Market” hosted several speakers from Italy, Sweden and Lithuania during the first day of Latvian Book Fair.

Roberta Chinni, the former director of Bologna Childrens’ Book Fair who is now responsible for international relations of the whole exhibition centre Bologna Fieri told the participants of the conference about the history of famous book fair and offered the insight into ways how BIBF market childrens books expading the understanding about the content and design. BIBF is undoubtedly the most important event for all publishers working for children. Four exhibition halls provide insight into new books from children from all over the world. The books are displayed and the meetings held both in the national stands and in stands of bigger individual publishers. Professional translators, illustrators, authors meet in their respective cafes where many presentations on relevant topics and discussions on current tasks and problems take place every day. There are two major exhibitions: the illustrators exhibition where up to 3000 artists send their works for evaluation, and some 180 lucky ones are selected by five persons’ jury to became a part of the annual exhibition and the catalogue which serves as the focus point to see the trends and to provide the participants with new opportunities. The other exhibition is the selected artists of annual guest of honour country which again usually comes with separate catalog and the number of dedicated events both in the exhibition halls and all over the city. One of important tasks of BIF is to raise awareness about the young artists –  for several years the BIBF logo is designed by one of the aspiring talents discovered through the previous exhibitions, and there is a special competition for young artists in the very beginning of their artistic career organized in cooperation with SM Foundation from Spain. Roberta Chinni’s presentation covered much more; the famous illustrators’ wall, new activities devoted to new digital trends and branding opportunities, etc.

The publishers are also in the focus of BIBF: each year the jury of Bologna Ragazzi award comprised of experts on children books, librarians and booksellers from various countries selects the best books from around 1500 titles submitted for evaluation by the publishers in the following categories: the best fiction, the best non-fiction, the best debut and the most innovative (New Horizons) work. In 2019, there were 1558 submissions form 42 countries, and the New Horizons award went to “History of pictures for children” by David Hockney and Martin Geyford, illustrated by Rosa Blake (published by Thamnes & Hudson), which is already published in Latvian by Janis RozePublishers. The participants of the BIBF are invited to vote for the best children publisher in each of six geographical regions: Africa, Central and South America, North America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. Roberta Chinni pointed out also, that the major prizes in children publishing are announced during BIBF and invited to visit the Fair from April 1 till April 4, 2019.

Valeria Mencarelli, the communication and marketing coordinator of Rome Book Fair explained how “the eternal city takes care about small and medium publishers” . Rome Book Fair is held since the beginning of 2000’s in the first decade of December to coincide with national holidays and to provide small and medium publishers more visibility. Interestingly, the participation rules are rather simple and democratic but also strict: the annual turnover of the publishing house cannot exceed 10 mio Euro, it cannot be part of big publishing group and the size of the stand is limited to two options: either 6 or 12 square meters. For several years the book fair took place in the impressive exhibition hall buils in 1930’s but it became so popular among participants and visitors that it should move and since 2017 it takes place in La Nuovola – recently built very modern exhbition and concert hall which can house more exhibitors and receive more people – the number of visitors had almost doubled and more than 100 000 persons attend the Fair during five days. The other interesting feature is that previous exhibitors have first hand to book their stands for the next issue of the fair: there is rather long waiting list for the newcomers. The organizers of the fair – Italian Publishers Association (IAE) has managed to ensure successful cooperation with municipalities of Rome and Lazio region and to attract some private sponsors to cover significant part (between 25-and 40 %) of organizational costs. The municipality provides important tool to encourage young people to attend the fair – school pupils receive the vouchers worth of 10 EUR to spend at the fair on the stands of publishers participating in this scheme. One of the focus points of cultural programm is also the events for young readers organized in cooperation with libraries of Rome and the region of Lazio.

As usual, one of topics discussed in the conference was the principles and success stories of literary prizes. Karin Sandberg, the pub;ic relations manager of Swedish Publishers association, introduced audience with the most prestigious literary prize in Sweden – August prize. This award was initiated by writer and publisher Per I. Geddin, the winners are announced in three categories: best fiction, best non-fiction and best book for children. Only works originally written in Swedish can be submitted by any publisher. The evaluation process is rather complicated to ensure maximal objectivity. In the first stage the applications are reviewed by jury of five members who selects six books in each category. This short-list is read by 63 representatives from the book chain: booksellers, librarians, literary critics, who vote for the winner. The award the really highy recognised and the interest about the short-list is huge: for many books the sales soar immensely, there are a lot of attention: interviews, discussions with the nominees in the media. In 2018, the number of publications about the prize, the ceremony and the short-listed writers had reached almost 2000. The prize is also significant factor to boost the sales of translation rights.

At the last session of the conference, the book expert from Lithuania Aida Dobkevičiute extensively explained various reading promotion initiatives that has taken place in Lithuania during recent years, including theatrical appearances of the popular book character Kike Mike created by Lina Žutaute and the success story of the book Laime yra lape (The Fox in the Slings) created by Evelina Dacute and Aušra Kiudulaite and announced as the best translated book of 2019 by American Librarian Association. Finalising the conference, the president of LPA Renate Punka informed about the recent bestseller lists of individual Latvian publishers, gave brief overview of gender proportions among authors, translators, editors, designers, and provided numbers of works by EUPL winners among grants provided by Creative Europe for translation of books from other European languages.

More detailed information and the materials of the conference are available upon request, please, contact Latvian Publishers Association

Article originally published in Janis Roze newsletter on April 2019