Italian Publishers: A 2.5-Percent Slip in Volume Through April

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Seeing downturns in revenues and unit sales, January Through April, AIE plans a two-panel program at Torino’s book fair.

A March view of the Piazza Castello in Torino, which stages its international book fair May 19 to 23. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Claudio Divizia

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

January-April Sales: €469.1 Million
From Milan, the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE) is reporting relatively mild downturns both in units sold and in value across the first four months of the year.

In physical and online retail points as well as in large-scale distribution, the association says, sales were down by 3.7 percent in value and 2.5 percent in number of units, by compariston to the same January-through-April period of 2021, which had recorded a particularly positive trend.

While these are not major downturns, of course, the concern is that they represent the beginning of a dwindling strength in the market that could accelerate.

There are some worrisome reports today (March 12), in fact, that Italy’s population could decline by 5 million in 30 years.

Ricardo Franco Levi

Francesco Zechini at Reuters Rome writes, “The COVID-10 pandemic hastened a long-running decline in Italy’s birthrate, ISTAT reported in March, with 399,431 births registered in 2021 against 404,892 in 2020. That marked the 13th consecutive yearly fall and the lowest number since the unification of Italy in 1861. The population fell by 253,000 to 59 million.”

Whether the falling trend lines in book sales are being driven by third-year pandemic effects or not, AIE’s research office—one of the best among world publishers associations—is seeing sales at cover prices in the first 16 weeks of 2022 amounting to €469.1 million (US$486.7 million), on volume of 31.6 million units.

“The increase compared to the first four months of 2019, i.e. compared to the pre-pandemic period,” the team writes, “is 16 percent in value and 17.1 percent in copies.”

A Presentation at Torino, May 20

We’re anticipating further, more granular information in programming to come at the Turin International Book Fair, this year set for May 19 to 23.

A part of the data development shared then has been processed in collaboration with the Aldus Up effort, with financing from the European Commission through Creative Europe. AIE and its president, Ricardo Franco Levi, hae announced a morning meeting focusing on what can be discerned in the new data.

The Book Market in the First Four Months of 2022: New Genres and Formats, the Revolution of Channels and Social Networks is a session announced for May 20, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. CEST in the Sala Blu for our readers who may be at Turin’s show or in the region.

With moderation by Sabina Minardi (L’Espresso) and reportage on the basis of the numbers from Gianni Peresson in AIE’s research office, two panels are being staged.

The first, composed of Sandro Ferri (Edizioni E/O)—who joined us at Frankfurter Buchmesse in October for our special program on independent publishing—will be on hand, as will Renata Gorgani (Editrice Il Castoro), Giuseppe Laterza (Editori Laterza), and Stefano Mauri (GEMS), from whom we’ve just heard in our extended coverage of this year’s Mauri School prorgram. The topic for these speakers is “The Future of Publishing: Sales Channels and a ‘Post-Pandemic’ Editorial Offer.’

Stefano Mauri

The second, with Lorenzo Armando (Lexis Compagnia Editoriale in Turin), Alessandra Carra (Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Editore), Antonio Sellerio (Sellerio Editore), and Enrico Selva Coddè (Mondadori Group) will debate “The Future of Publishing: New Genres, Digital Formats, and Online Promotion.”

In describing the intent of this morning examination of the new numbers, Levi is pointing to the wisdom of looking closely—and quickly—to what may be the beginning of a downturn in what many hope is a transition from pandemic conditions.

“We want to go beyond simple market numbers,” Levi says, “to reflect on the transformations that await us in the coming years.

“The weight of the different channels in sales,” he says, “the emergence of genres such as comics and new formats such as audiobooks, the promotion of reading among the youngest, and the search for the most suitable channels to reach them are all themes we want to bring to the light of public reflection.”

More from Publishing Perspectives on Italy and its book publishing industry is here. More on Ricardo Franco Levi is here, more on bookselling is here, more on industry statistics is here, and more on the Scuola per Librai Umberto e Elisabetta Mauri is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on world publishing is here.

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.