A peek into the Italian publishing industry

The Italian book publishing sector in the last five years has been characterized by a series of acquisitions that have led from five to four the number of publishing groups that control more than 50% of the market. Here, Simonetta Pillon, Chief Executive Officer, Informazioni Editoriali I.E. srl shares more on the Italian publishing industry.


AABP: What are the main genres of books in Italy?

Simonetta: The main segments are:

  • Fiction (Italian and foreign)
  • Children’s books
  • General non-fiction (e.g. essays on
    Humanities and Social Sciences)
  • Practical non-fiction (e.g. handbooks
    about gardening, pet care, do-ityourself
    house building and repairing;
    cookbooks; diet books; sports and
  • Professional non-fiction (e.g.
    Economics, Finance, Business &
    Management books)

AABP: Which segment of books is most popular?

Simonetta: The most popular segment is Fiction, closely followed by General non-fiction.

AABP: What about the reading habits amongst children?

Simonetta: In general, children and young adults read more than adults. According to the last ISTAT (National Institute of Statistics) report on reading in Italy published in December 2017 and referring to 2016, young people between 11 and 14 years of age read more (51.1%) compared to all other age groups.

The effect of familiarity is strong in the habit of reading. The quote of readers between 6 and 18 years old is 66.9% among the children with both parents reading books, against 30.8% among the children of parents who do not read books.

The following ISTAT diagram displays the percentage of people aged 6 and over who have read at least one book for non-school or professional reasons in the 12 months prior to the interview, by gender and age group. The blue columns refers to male readers, the grey ones to female readers.

AABP: What initiatives does the govt take to promote the book business?

Simonetta: The recent most impacting governmental initiative has been the “bonus cultura,” an electronic card worth 500 euros assigned to all young people resident in Italy who were 18 year old in 2016, to be spent for cultural products and events (books, music and tickets for admission to concerts, cinema, theater, museums etc) by the end of 2017.

From November 3, 2016 to November 30, 2017, thanks to 18app (https:// www.18app.italia.it), about 600,000 young people have spent over 163 million euros mainly (80%) in books (98% paper books, 2% ebook).

54% of the total purchases took place on online platforms and 46% in around 4,000 accredited stores.

On September 2017, the bonus has been renewed for those born in 1999 (to be spent by the end of 2018). It is uncertain whether the new Italian government will renew it once again or will reallocate the financial resources on other projects.

Other initiatives include:

  • The national campaign “Il Maggio dei Libri” promoted by the Center for the book and reading of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, aimed to rediscover the value of reading as a tool for personal, civil and social growth. Since 2010, from April 23rd (World Book Day) until May 31st, over a thousand initiatives take place throughout Italy organized by schools, libraries, associations, libraries and institutions in the area and dedicated to all lovers of reading.
  • The largest national promotion of reading # ioleggoperche is a great collection of books to support school libraries. It is the largest national campaign for reading promotion (organized by the Italian Publishers Association) and works like this: in a specific week of the year (this year will be from Saturday 20 to Sunday 28 October 2018) in bookstores that adhere to # ioleggoperche, citizens can buy books to donate to schools. At the end of the campaign, Publishers will contribute with a number of books equal to the total national donation (up to a maximum of 100.000 volumes), donating them to the school libraries that will have request the donation. Thanks to the energy and commitment of booksellers, teachers, citizens from all over Italy, publishers and the students themselves, in 2016 more than 124.000 books were donated to schools and in 2017 222.000 books went to enrich the library heritage of school libraries.

AABP: What has been the impact of digital and ebooks in the market?

Simonetta: According to the Italian Publishers Association, in 2017 e-books (in various “manifestations”) accounted for 8% of the titles on sale, whereas in 2010 they were less than 2%. According to ISTAT, between the reading of paper books and of digital books seems to be there a direct relationship: the number of people reading e-books increases in proportion to the number of books in the house.

This positive relationship between reading e-books and paper books suggests that the digital format does not arise, in general, in an explicit alternative with the paper one, at least in the habit of reading.

Simonetta Pillon is General Manager and CEO of Informazioni Editoriali, the Italian leader company in the provision of information services for the book world.Graduated in Contemporary History, she has been working for IE since 1986, leading the transition from a small company focused on the Books-in- Print Catalogue, through the development of the CD-ROM & online services division, up to the current reality employing around 40 people and providing bibliographic information to the main actors of the supply book chain.

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