New Books From Italy: Launching an International Rights Sales Program

In News by Porter Anderson

Unveiled to the international market today, the Italian book business opens a centralized platform to promote contemporary titles to the world industry for translation and publication.

Ricardo Franco Levi, head of the Italian publishers association AIE, speaks during the June 11 introduction of the New Italian Books program. Image: Porter Anderson

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

AIE’s Levi: ‘The Importance of Internationalization’
In a streamed discussion of some 90 minutes this morning (June 11), Ricardo Franco Levi, chief of the Italian publishers association (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE), has pledged the organization’s full support for a new initiative, New Italian Books.

At a moment when the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is expected to cause the Italian market to lose about a third of its anticipated annual revenue, the effort to promote Italian literature for translation deals on the international market obviously makes good sense.

“Our editors know the importance of internationalization,” Levi said during this morning’s announcement, “and as an association we support them. Backing initiatives like this are well aligned with our initiatives at trade shows, such as our planned appearance at the Paris fair in 2022 and as Frankfurt Guest of Honor in 2023.”

The expected revenue shortfall of €650 million to €900 million out of a total anticipated annual €3.2 billion translates to a loss of US$713 million to $988 million from an expected annual $3.5 billion–clearly a massive hole punched in the budgetary structure of an industry in a nation of 60 million.

Publishing Perspectives has reported regularly on the staggering impact of the virus on the Italian market, one of the hardest hit in Europe. At this writing, the 6:33 a.m. ET update (1033 GMT) of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reports Italy now at the seventh highest caseload level in the world with 235,763 infections and 34,114 deaths.

The Trend: Coordinated International Outreach

And in an era in which a crowded content market—both in heavy production of books each year and in a historically unprecedented brace of competing digital entertainment—many other markets have developed international promotion programs for their countries’ output, to attract both translation sales into international territories and languages and film and television interest for development.

New Books in German, for example, is one of the best established of these ventures, as is New Spanish Books.

During the Guest of Honor Norway program at the 2018 Frankfurter Buchmesse, the Books From Norway program, one of the most visible and successful in the world, was used both to highlight new Norwegian literature and to serve as a point of contact for rights queries and information for the world industry after the trade show.

Set up to serve visitors in both English and Italian, the New Italian Books site will showcase titles with metadata provided directly by publishers. Each listing is to have a short extract in translation as well as the original Italian, a biographical profile of the author, and contact details to reach relevant rights holders.

Some key features of the new site:

  • For those of us who travel to industry events, a very handy calendar of Italian book fairs, literary festivals, and other events is included in an agenda section
  • Articles of interest are featured in an “Insights” area of the site
  • Grants listing provides details of what translation funding might be available to support international publication.
  • The “Database” division, includes a guide to publishers, institutions and this listing of literary agents among other things

The presentation is clean, functions smoothly–with options of fiction, nonfiction, children’s content, and graphic novels in the books section–and has been rolled out very smartly today, everything appearing to work as planned on this site that will provide many their first full roadmap to the busy Italian market.

As Marina Sereni, deputy foreign affairs minister, said during today’s program, the portal should “give new impetus to the process of internationalizing the Italian publishing industry,” and at a very auspicious moment.

In Milan on May 8. Image – iStockphoto: Photo Time

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Italian market is here. And more from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here and at the CORONAVIRUS tab at the top of each page of our site.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.