Bologna Rox

Ciao! Just got home from Italy, home of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair!

First, the travel report: Our one-hour flight from Bologna to Frankfurt took many hours, because the first flight was cancelled and the second an hour late. This left us with 15 minutes to sprint across Frankfurt airport and catch the plane to Singapore. We were so late that we’d lost our seats, and had to be seated apart for 12 hours, me in a dreaded middle seat of the dreaded middle row. In Singapore Airport we got a micro-hotel room for a shower and two hours of precious horizontality. Then seven hours to Sydney.

It was a long day—actually two days, because of the time shifts. (If I owe you email, or haven’t posted in other comment threads, forgive.)

But enough complaining. The main thing to know is that Bologna is gorgeous . . .

Bonfiglioli Images

And old. It has Roman walls around its center, but it’s the medieval buildings that rock most. In the 1200s, the city’s wealthy families competed with each other by building big towers. (To like, uh, show that they were wealthy. That was before TV.) The two most famous are above.

Bologna also has the best food evah. Blood orange juice, lots of truffles (not the chocolate kind; the mushroomy kind), and, of course, genuine SpagBol. (Which means “Spaghetti Bolognaise.” Did you guys know that? Turns out my German translator didn’t . . . Oops.)

We ate at this one place where they pour hot risotto into a giant hollowed-out wheel of parmiagiana, stirring it around so that it sucks up the cheesey goodness, and then shave truffles on top. They also put truffles on fresh mozzerella, on eggs, and on potatoes. Death by truffles.

We ate there twice. (Thanks, Eloise!)

The book fair itself was amazing. About 8,000 illustrators, editors, agents, sub-agents, scouts, and other publishing types were gathered to talk books, make deals, and decide what’s hot. As authors, Justine’s and my job was like that of lobsters in a restaurant tank: look pretty at dinner. Now, this simile has issues, given that we were wanting to be chosen, and the lobsters maybe not so much. But you get it, right? Basically, we were there to put a human face on our books, to be charming, and to let our agents and US publishers drum up interest in other lands and languages.

It was a great week. I love hanging out with book people, who are smart and dedicated and interested in the world. Surrounded by 8,000 experts, these are the things I learned about children publishing:

The history, economics, and mechanics of pop-up books is endlessly fascinating.
Sweden likes hardbacks; Brazil prefers trade paperbacks.
Translators in France earn 8-10 cents per word (US cents), plus 1% royalties.
The children’s picture book market tanked about ten years ago.
Scouts are like reverse agents: matchmakers, but paid by publishers instead of authors.
Gossip Girl is published in 29 territories.
The Italian kids/YA market is 75% books in translation.
The Dutch throw the best parties.

Okay, I haven’t even mention the SCBWI conference we taught at, or the amazing fig gelato, or that our luggage is still in Frankfurt. But jetlag is eating my brain now. Must watch mindless TV.

Luckily, Justine has put up a rather more coherent post than mine.

So let me just say thanks to everyone who bought us dinner, lunch, or drinks, or just told us cool stuff.

25 thoughts on “Bologna Rox

  1. The food and sights sound great, although what exactly is fresh blood orange juice? And we all better hope that Gossip Girls really don’t permanently rupture impressionable teens’ moral fibers…

  2. We get Blood Oranges in Florida sometimes, I love those things.

    It sounds like Bologna is really nice, the pictures are pwetty. I like the colors in the sky, don’t get those too much here. Looks like it’d make a good painting or pastel picture though…too bad I can’t do either XD

  3. Yes, welcome back Scott! That trip (minus the trip back home) sounds totally amazing! I read Justines blog and its just as good as urs, lol, really for someone suffering jet lag, u seem to be plenty normal (trust me i know, my mother used to travel all around the world for work, and she gets TOTALLY out of it). Well i hope that you recover well! best wishes ~korbe

  4. I also wish to add to you Scott, that on the uglies on tv thread, you posted some links to jewelry, and um they had 12 points instead of 13, and i was wondering if you had forgotten, but um 12 IS A BAD NUMBER! lol, sorry, i just value my life……..and well thanks for trying! but in the future, lets try not to kill our fans, cause they may not appreciate it too much! alrighty then, im going to go now! (i didnt mean to yell at you Scott, i really didnt, i just kinda freaked there for a second, please forgive)

  5. The Dutch throw the best parties? Really? This is surprising to me, we generally don’t have the reputation of being great partyers. But maybe the publishers are different?

    Good to hear that you guys had so much fun, and looking forward to the rest of your embargoed news.

  6. Marrije: It’s me with the embargoed news, not Scott. We are not as one! We are not a hive mind!

    Oh, and the Dutch party was amazing. Incredible setting, great food, lots of interesting people. Do not be down on your people! Did you know Dutch publishing has the rep of being amongst the most dynamic in Europe? And here’s me and Scott not published there . . . Gotta fix that!

  7. The funny thing about SpagBol is that no one knew what it meant. Not my American editor, none of the foreign editors I met. (To be fair, they weren’t translators.)

    “SpagBol” is Aussie slang, because we Ozlanders don’t like saying long words. Or even medium-size ones.

  8. I still love it , it’s like you say Spagbol and they’re like “huh?”
    It’s just fun to say XD

  9. I’m a wee bit Dutch!MAybe that means something,or maybe not! You sir are so lucky. You are going to Bologna and I’ve been to Denver a few times (i live in new mexico,eew)!I dont even know what a truffle looks like. And thaks to Rachel Ray(Rey???) I know what fresh blood oranges are.Groovy!Hope you get over your jet lag!

  10. Oh yeah Spagbol sounds yummy.Do they have the kind of bologna you eat there?Bye.or Ciao!cool word.

  11. I thought spagbol stood for a bowl of spaghetti, im really slow, I cant believe i thought that *blushes*

  12. I knew I shouldn’t have said SpagBol. Now there’s Aussies on my blog! Deb, were you just googling “SpagBol” or something?

    Sarah: I had no bologna in Bologna, because I am a vegetarian. But Justine ate a horse salad! Here is some info about the food bologna:

    There’s no mention of the city. Hmm.

  13. My apologies for accusing you of hivemindness, Justine. But surely you have told Scott about the embargoed news bits?? And aren’t they then at least in a tiny way his news bits too? Mmm, maybe not.

    Oh, and that excellent party person, my prime minister-who-looks-like-harry-potter will be across the road from you two (at the Sydney Opera House) tomorrow. Go check him out! But please don’t make Harry Potter jokes!

  14. Erk, the USian bologna sounds disgusting. No such foodstuf would be found in the city of great food, Bologna.

    Marrije: Apologies accepted. But the news is embargoed! Of course, i haven’t told my husband! 🙂

    Will see if we can check your PM. Harry Potter, eh? That’s a vast improvement on our PM who looks like, well, I won’t say here. Let’s keep this blog clean.

  15. Ah, Justine. Don’t make fun of Mr John Howard *sniggers behind hand*
    And Scott! I am totally Aussie! Don’t worry, I wasn’t googling SpagBol. But yeah, I actually knew what it meant. Hmm…
    The Bologna picture looks SO AWESOME, i can’t believe it’s not edited or anything. Only Rome looks as cool. :]

  16. hi scott – i really really learned a lot from your talk at scbwi’s before bologna conference. i’ve posted a report on your talk on my blog check it out

    on the last day of the scbwi conference, you and justine looked so tired on the bus back into town … i’m glad to hear that you recovered and enjoyed the rest of the week.

    you and justine are brilliant. thank you, candy

  17. I kinda guessed it stood for Spaghetti Bolognese, but see I figured it was future slang. Like VegRice or whatever the other ones were called.

    The food sounds lovely in Bolognia! Please drop a comment at my blog about what restaurant that was, because I’ma want to go there if I’m ever in Bolognia.

Comments are closed.