Last week was a memorable one as I visited the beautiful city of Bologna to attend the major Children’s Book Fair. After a touchy flight and an extended bus “tour”, I made it to our lovely rented apartment east of town. (Note for next year, hotel rooms are booked up six months in advance!) Following a nice evening out, we prepared for our meetings. Tuesday and Wednesday were a blur of conversations as U.K.-based paper engineer Michael Caputo and I met with numerous publishers, packagers, printers and paper engineers. (That’s a lot of P’s.) In between our appointments, we had a chance to walk the half dozen cavernous halls and visit most of the one thousand exhibitors from around the world. There was a great showcase of illustrators from Portugal that provided some get inspiration. We noticed many booths with pop-up books and other novelty items. There were presentations about digital e-books and apps. Panel discussions with authors and artists continued through the day. I was able to see lots of familiar faces and shake hands with many new folks, some of whom I hope to mention in future posts. Fueled by tasty gelato, our evenings lasted well into the night as visitors and exhibitors blew off steam and celebrated publishing deals at venues like the sWine Bar. On our last night in town, we had a pop-up dinner where six paper engineers sat down to a delicious Italian meal and joked that if the restaurant was destroyed that half the world’s pop-up makers would be wiped out. It was a great evening of food, fun and fellowship. I managed to squeeze about four hours of sightseeing before my flight home and toured the old center, climbed the 100 meter tall Asinelli tower, caught a great show on children books, and visited the fascinating natural history museum at the Palazzo Poggi.
My time was all to brief in Bologna, but I was grateful to meet so many interesting people that are so passionate about bringing new and exciting children’s books to the bookshelves. I am exhausted and more importantly inspired by what I saw in Italy. Now, it’s time to act on that inspiration and make some fun pop-ups!