Books and Social Media – Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2013

This year, the International Youth Library again attended the Children’s Book Fair in Bologna, which took place from 25th until 28th March 2013. The fair is the most important international get-together for professionals involved in children’s publishing. And for us, it is a great honour to be part of this exciting event! Each year we present our selection of “The White Ravens”, books of international interest that deserve a wider reception on account of their universal theme and/or their exceptional style.

Over the years it has become clear that no other event is more inspiring and stimulating than this fair and we hoped that in the field of ‘Social Media for Book People’, the fair would be the hot spot for exchanges within the virtual community.

We started our Social Media Fair activities a few weeks before the fair with creating a board on pinterest called “#bcbf13 – Bologna Book Fair 2013 – H29/B56” as we wanted our followers on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to become part of our activities in Bologna. Furthermore, we used the hashtag “#bcbf13” for twitter news directly from our stand and other hot spots at the fair. Last but not least, we used Facebook as a platform for posts with news about our stay at the fair. It goes without saying that printed material as well as stand panels were equipped with our fancy QR-code (designed by Marc Nikoleit). We printed QR-Cards that lead to our Blog and distributed them. It soon became obvious that our castle-like QR-Code was a real eye-catcher.

qr card

Having studied the Bologna Children’s Book Fair programme, we were rather surprised that all sessions offered in the so-called “Digital Café” dealt exclusively with apps, digital books and how to digitize books and other content. We would have appreciated some sessions about various internet platforms for book people, information on “where in the Internet you can meet the ‘right’ people” or further social media marketing instruments for children’s and young adult book professionals. We were also puzzled that the fair itself did not promote their “official” hashtag nor offer a platform, e.g. on Facebook, for international book people to meet, to connect and to share their experiences. It was a great pity that we only found out on Wednesday that a second fair-hashtag was used – too late for any interaction with others. It might be a good idea if the fair offered a platform or clear guidelines for Social Media aficionados.

Still, Social Media are just about to become the norm and the rapid developments within Social Media are very challenging for all, including the book trade. We are confident that in the future we will find “digital meeting places”, “input factories” or other options for Book Fair participants to promote not only their own companies and books, but also to promote reading and interdisciplinary exchange.

We are looking forward to returning to Bologna in 2014 and say “Arrevederci” to all our friends in Bologna and around the world!
(Petra Wörsching)

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