Monday was the SCBWI Bologna Symposium. (SCBWI is the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.) This was an international SCBWI conference which is held every other year in conjunction with the Bologna Book Fair.
There was a stellar line up of speakers, including Steve Mooser, one of the founders of SCBWI. Other speakers included Leonard Marcus, a children's book historian and author. He has served on several award committees, such as the National Book Award, and gave an interesting talk about children’s book awards.
This was my first time hearing Richard Peck speak. He is an incredible speaker! Wow. It was excellent.
Me and Richard Peck. We visited for about 20 minutes last night at an evening buffet in a bookstore in downtown Bologna.
Ellen Hopkins spoke to writers and did a workshop, while Frane Lessac did a workshop with the illustrators. There were also First Look and First Pages panels, where illustrations were shown and opening pages read. Agents and editors and art directors gave feedback. It was interesting to hear so many pages so quickly and to hear and see the agents' reactions.
A panel of seven publishers talked about publishing today, which was fascinating as they ranged from Gita Wolf of Tara Books whose company in India makes handmade books to Stephen Roxburgh of Namelos who has a new publishing model.
I got to meet Gita Wolf, a publisher, in person, which was nice as I did an interview with her for the conference about a month ago.
Her amazing book, Do!, received the prestigious
New Horizons BolognaRagazzi Award.
Do! is a work of art.
The symposium was a fairly intimate conference, which made it easy to meet and visit with all those who presented (authors, agents, editors) as well as all the other writers and illustrators. I’d estimate about 100 people or so were in attendance. Writers and illustrators came from all over the world, from places as far away as South Africa, New Zealand, Japan, and Brazil.
In the comments yesterday olmue asked about how it works to buy a book in a foreign language and if ARCs (advanced reader copies of the book) are read at the fair. I'm sure each publisher and editor and scout does it a little different, but if a book is "hot" and competition is intense, they will take the ARC back to their hotel room and read at night. Many books are taken home and read later.
As to books in foreign languages--there are summaries available, plus the agent or publisher will pitch the book to the publishers or buyers. Often there are book summaries/pitches on flyers or in catalogs. For a picture book, the publisher will sometimes tape the English words in the book. I saw this at the Frankfurt Book Fair with some Thai books.
Tomorrow--Day One of the fair:
I'll explore the fair and spend some time at the SCBWI booth, which is a place for those at the conference to gather, as well as a place to showcase SCBWI authors and illustrators. The next conference is in two years. Coming to Bologna is a good way to attend a great SCBWI conference as well as visit the Bologna Fair. If you are a writer or illustrator, consider coming in 2012.