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Bologna--SCBWI Symposium

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.



( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 23rd, 2010 09:00 am (UTC)
Thank you for giving us a taste
Sarah, what a great peek into this "other world." Yes, I wish I could be there but your descriptions give me a taste of what is happening and it sounds wonderful, informative and inspiring.
Thank you, and keep the descriptions rolling in, Nancy Bo Flood
Mar. 25th, 2010 09:49 am (UTC)
Re: Thank you for giving us a taste
Nancy, I saw your book. I'll post a photo on Friday.
Mar. 23rd, 2010 11:59 am (UTC)
Sounds wonderful!
Mar. 25th, 2010 09:49 am (UTC)
It is great!
You should come some year.
Mar. 23rd, 2010 01:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for blogging this event, Sarah. Wish I could be there.

I wanted to pipe up with my .02 about buying foreign rights. A lot of the big publishers have book scouts who read books in other languages and report back on what is worth acquiring. My teacher in my publishing course, John McLay, is actually at Bologna right now and as an English reader he works as a scout for several European and American publishers.
Mar. 23rd, 2010 01:15 pm (UTC)
Oops, sorry, that's Anne M Leone that just posted the above comment! =)
Mar. 23rd, 2010 09:20 pm (UTC)
Yes, they have scouts who read for them and they read ahead of time whenever possible. One person I know--she has 2 or 3 readers read every book she considers.

Wish you could be here, Anne.
Mar. 23rd, 2010 02:33 pm (UTC)
What a thrill!
Sarah, How cool, to meet Richard Peck and talk to him a while! It's awesome to see how worlds can open up at a fair like Bologna, where books written across the oceans can make it into an American child's hands, and vice versa. I'm enjoying your updates, keep them coming!
Mar. 25th, 2010 09:50 am (UTC)
Re: What a thrill!
Thanks, Meredith.
I'll post all week. :)
Mar. 23rd, 2010 02:37 pm (UTC)
What a great introduction to the Fair, Sarah.
I'm looking forward to checking in each day to see what new discoveries you make.
Thanks for being our reporter on the street.
Mar. 23rd, 2010 04:57 pm (UTC)
Very cool that you got to meet RP -- and hear him speak :)
Mar. 25th, 2010 09:51 am (UTC)
He was incredible speaker.
Mar. 23rd, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC)
Tell us more about the publishing today panel if you have time. I would love to have heard the discussion! Thanks for all your good reporting, Sarah. Helen
Mar. 25th, 2010 09:52 am (UTC)
They mostly spoke about their companies' philosophies toward publishing and answered questions that were turned in ahead of time.
I have notes.
I'll see if there is anything useful and can mail you off list if there is.
Mar. 28th, 2010 08:20 pm (UTC)
Thanks Sarah for your Bologna reporting! Re the last panel, I was too preoccupied with asking the publishers the questions to note down their replies. Let me know if you want me to email you the list of questions.
Bridget Strevens-Marzo
Mar. 23rd, 2010 08:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the updates!

Question -- you've talked about a lot of the things you can learn and do if you go to the Bologna fair... but what are the costs? (getting there, for sure, but does the fair cost anything?)
Mar. 25th, 2010 09:55 am (UTC)
The SCBWI symposium includes admission for all the days.
If you come to the fair separately it is 23 Euros for one day, 40 for two days, 60 for all the days. (On the visitor info page.)
Mar. 23rd, 2010 10:00 pm (UTC)
Fabulous! Keep the great info coming! I can't wait to see pictures from inside the exhibition hall.
Mar. 24th, 2010 12:31 am (UTC)
Thanks for taking us along, Sarah!
Mar. 25th, 2010 09:56 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading.
Wish you could come and see the fair.
Mar. 24th, 2010 01:16 am (UTC)
Thank you, Sarah, for giving us such an interesting report on the SCBWI event at the Bologna Book Fair. I've always wondered what it was like. Looking forward to your future reports.
Mar. 25th, 2010 09:58 am (UTC)
Thanks, Sarah.
Mar. 24th, 2010 01:33 am (UTC)

Everything sounds so interesting--is it hard to choose which events to attend? If you see Ellen again, tell her hi from Zu!
Mar. 25th, 2010 09:58 am (UTC)
Basically, I look at the offered events and just choose two per day. But one could only attend events--there are so many incredible ones.
Mar. 24th, 2010 06:24 am (UTC)
Thanks so much, Sarah, for bringing the fair to us. I plan on reading every day - and maybe putting all my spare change into a piggy bank marked "Bologna Book Fair - Someday."
Mar. 25th, 2010 09:56 am (UTC)
Re: Wonderful!
This is definitely the fair to attend!
I like seeing all the international books.

Plus, the food is very good.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )

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