Q: What is new for 2012 at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair?
A: The Bologna Children’s Book Fair always tracks the changes in the publishing world, so besides the usual initiatives focusing on illustration, translation, authors and new books, we will have a new zone dedicated to digital publishing for the first time at the fair.
Q: What is TOCBologna about?
A: We started in 2012 to cooperate with O’Reilly Media Tools of Change team to create the first international conference for children’s digital publishing: TOC Bologna was the result. The conference was a sell out, we had an incredible set of delegates from more than 25 countries. This year, TOC Bologna will focus on the Art, Craft and Business of storytelling. It will be held on Saturday 18th March, on the day before the fair at the Congress Hall in the main grounds. The program features publishing professionals from around the world who are eager to share their experiences on digital content creation and distribution for the children’s market. Delegates to TOC Bologna can expect to get a lot of value both in program and networking opportunities.
Q: The Bolongaragazzi Award features a new category this year focused on apps for the young readers’ market. Is this the Bolognaragazzi Digital Award? Tell us more.
A: Again, we want reflect what the market is offering, that is why we decided to recognize the great work of publishers working in digital media. It is important that we support these new pioneers and recognize quality work, just as we do for book publishers. You can submit applications for this award up until the end of February via our website.
Q: What presence are ebooks having this year at the Book Fair?
A: I would say digital publishing rather than ebooks. As a matter of fact, with the age groups targeted at the Fair, ebooks represent only one area of digital content - apps, mixed media, online interactive communities, screen based learning games, and even more can be included in this ever-expanding category. Digital content creators are now attending the Fair and we welcome them: our goal is for Bologna to be the GLOBAL reference point for all those involved in children’s publishing either traditional or digital, because we believe that what really counts is having the best content.
Q: How do publishers of ebooks exhibit their electronic publications on their stands compared to traditional printed books? Do they use ereaders, pcs...?
A: Well, they normally just need a screen… the size is not very important, but I think a desk and chairs are very appreciated too ! It is after all about the content no so much the screens. We hope to have plenty of opportunities for delegates at the fair to explore the many screen devices - dedicated ereaders, and multi-use devices. We’ve partnered with O’Reilly Media to produce a “Digital Theater” where presentations and demos will be taking place throughout the duration of the Fair.
Q: Are there exclusively digital publishers exhibiting at the fair, or are there generally traditional publishers who have branched out into digital publishing who exhibit both their printed products and digital content
A: Both categories. We saw now some new “digital only” business coming through, but traditional publishers have to work with the opportunities offered by the market and they are producing some incredible projects both in-house and in collaboration with new digital service providers.
Q: What has changed in children’s book reading experiences and habits with the onset of digital content and digital readers?
A: It is the beginning of some shifts in reading habits - we see books and screens sitting beside each other. We will understand this more as habits develops and more research is undertaken. Kids have a very natural approach to digital devices they are born into this digital world and embrace it with enthusiasm. TOC Bologna will actually feature leading experts in the field discussing the reading and screen habits of children, and providing insight into what the trends are indicating.
Q: How have buying and selling children’s book publishing rights changed with regards to ebooks?
A: This is again part of the discussion: with digital publishing there is more than just text and images. There are also questions about distribution and territorial rights that need to be re-defined. Online sales, direct-to-consumer, newly dominant retailers and the disappearance of long-existing channels -- all of these are coming into play and will be topics of discussion at the Fair and at TOC Bologna.
Q: When creating ebooks, is DRM a good thing or does it make for a poor customer experience when purchasing digital content? What is the general opinion of publishers?
A: Not all publishers support DRM for several reasons. It appears to me that is will prove a transitory solution.
Q: What will the 2012 programme hold in store for visitors? Any particular attention on ebooks, e-rights and content?
A: The full TOC Bologna programme is presented here http://tocbologna.com/programme
. There really is something for everyone; I will let your readers choose. More than just the programme, TOC is about the contacts, conversations and connections made there. We will also have digital café within the TOC Pavilion at the fair itself: several presentations and discussions around the digital market, apps, technical solutions.
2012 will really go down as the year the digital arrived within the WHOLE programme of the Bologna Children’s bookfair and we can’t wait to welcome all those involved to make it the best and brightest fair ever in our history.
YH: Roberta, thank-you for holding this interview.
RC: Thanks Yolanda for the opportunity!
Roberta Chinni is the Project Manager for Bologna Children’s Book Fair, Italy.