Unlike some book fairs that host many author signings and encourage the public to come peruse the newest titles, Bologna is a trade/business fair at heart. Agents and publishers attend with the intention of garnering interest for their books in foreign markets, and publishers are on the hunt for new titles to add to their lists. There are even property buyers for film and graphic novels present.
Though there are publisher booths of every size and style, some publishers go all out, creating elaborate structures that showcase their lead titles and hold plenty of tables and chairs for conducting business.
Random House's Booth
Illustrators are well-represented at the fair, from aspiring to renowned. Fair-goers are greeted at the entrance by a massive wall housing a mish-mash of art works in all styles and genres. Illustrators use this space to display their best work in hopes that an agent or publisher might take notice. Some booths also host illustrator "face-off" competitions, and many award-winning and spotlighted picture books are on display throughout the fair.
The Illustrator Wall
The fair after-hours are equally lively, when the city's cafes and trattorias fill up with publishing folk to have more laid-back meetings, or talk about anything other than business for a change. Some publishers are even known for their annual cocktail parties.
Last but certainly not least, here are some Apocalypsie covers that I spotted as I meandered the fair's halls: