At Bologna: Italy’s Youth Publishing by the Numbers

In News by Porter Anderson

Titles published for younger readers in Italy rose from 6,165 in 2015 to 8,850 in 2021, per new figures from a handy quick-read AIE presentation.

Ricardo Franco Levi, president of the Associazione Italiana Editori and of the Federation of European Publishers, speaks on the opening day of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, March 6. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

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

Big Crowds on Bologna’s Day One
Among the many events of the packed opening day here at Bologna Children’s Book Fair, a presentation from Ricardo Franco Levi and the team at the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE) included facts and figures on the robust children’s book market in our host country, Italy.

So strong is the trade-visitor turnout this year that at times getting through the halls from one meeting to the next requires a few detours as aisles become all but impassable.

In the lunch hour on Monday (February 6), we saw lines of more than 30 people at food stands, and the newly configured, high-walled exhibitions in the central “services” area were teeming with browsing viewers.

The Market of Honor Greece pavilion was opened by the personable and engaged Greek deputy minister of culture and sports Nicholas Yatromanolakis with a throng of people squeezing into the central omicron-shaped chamber to hear his welcoming comments.

And just next door, the Bologna Book Plus stage was running back-to-back presentations, one of which was a handy presentation of points about the youth book market in Italy.

What we’re going to give you here is a quick, selective look at that market, simply by the numbers, no charts or narrative commentary needed.

IPA’s Karine Pansa’s Argument for Industry Data

IPA president Karine Pansa, right, and Bologna Children’s Book Fair director Elena Pasoli meet onstage at the opening of the 2023 trade show on March 6. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

As we provide you with this, we’d like to lobby for one of our favorite causes here at Publishing Perspectives: coherently comparable industry statistics.

A primary concern that Brazil’s Karine Pansa is focusing on during her tenure as president of the International Publishers Association (IPA) is just such data that can be placed side-by-side with other international book markets’ facts and figures to provide a way for the world’s book business to construct a better picture of itself, is strengths and challenges,

The research unit of the Italian publishers association is among the world industry’s best, and as you’ll see, this makes them able to provide a remarkably streamlined round of facts and figures quickly.

We’d readily propose that the list of informational categories be one that each market in Europe and other world publishing markets use to construct their own snapshots of their young readers’ sector activity and key points for analysis.

AIE’s Youth Book Market Data Points

Resident population as of January 1, 2022:

  • Children 0 to 14 years: 7,489,795 (down -1.9 percent over January 1, 2021)
  • Children 6 to 14 years: 4,868,277 (down -1.2 percent over January 1, 2021)

Readers of “at least one non-school book in the previous 12 months” (2021):

  • 6 to 10 years: 45.6 percent
  • 11 to 14 years: 54.7 percent
  • 15 to 17 years: 50.9 percent

Ebook readers “in the previous 12 months” (2021):

  • 6 to 10 years: 5.2 percent
  • 11 to 14 years: 15.1 percent
  • 15 to 17 years: 19.6 percent

Audiobook listeners “in the previous 12 months” (2021):  

  • 6 to 10 years: 2.7 percent
  • 11 to 14 years: 2.5 percent
  • 15 to 17 years: 1.9 percent

Sales of trade books—physical and online bookstores and large retailers—at cover price of the children’s and youth sector (2022):

  • €268.4 million (US$ 286.7 million), down -3.7 percent from 2021

Titles of published children’s and youth books:  

  • 2016: 6,165
  • 2017: 7,476
  • 2018: 7,221
  • 2019: 7,810
  • 2020: 7,289
  • 2021: 8,850

Book titles published per thousand children in 2021 (0 to 14 years):

  • 1.18 (2017: 0.90)

Printed copies:  

  • 2016: 27,200,000
  • 2017: 26,950,000
  • 2018: 26,685 ,000
  • 2019: 30,944,000
  • 2020: 32,503,000
  • 2021: 38,093,000

Distribution of book production by age group (2021):  

  • 0 to 2 years: 6.9 percent
  • 3 to 4 years: 34.7 percent
  • 5 to 6 years: 27.0 percent
  • 7 to 8 years: 16.8 percent
  • 9 to 10 years: 8.9 percent
  • 11 to 13 years: 5.5 percent
  • Unclassifiable: 0.2 percent

Average annual expenditure per child in 2022 (0 to 14 only trade channels):

  • €35.83 (€29.18 in 2018;  €31.1 in 2020, €37.5 in 2021)

Import and export: Trends in rights sales and rights purchases (value shown in parentheses) of  children’s and young adult books by Italian publishers:

  • 2001: 486 (1.250)
  • 2005: 468 (1.369)
  • 2010: 1.607 (1.283)
  • 2016: 2.948 (1.897)
  • 2017: 3.175 (1.848)
  • 2018: 3.074 (1.797)
  • 2019: 3.256 (2.402)
  • 2020: 2.812 (2.190)

Data collection and processing by the AIE Study Office from various sources:

  • AIE-Kids Observatory by  Pepe Research
  • Istat
  • Nielsen
  • IE- Informazioni Editoriali

Greek deputy minister of culture and sports Nicholas Yatromanolakis speaks at the opening of the Market of Honor Greece pavilion, March 6, at Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

More from Publishing Perspectives on publishing and book awards in the international industry is here. More on Bologna Children’s Book Fair is here, more on Bologna Book Plus is here, more on children’s books is here, more on the Italian market is here, more on international rights trading is here, and more on world publishing’s trade shows and book fairs is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the world media partner of the International Publishers Association.

More of our coverage of the 60th anniversary edition of Bologna Children’s Book Fair:

On Bologna’s Opening Day: The Best Publishers Award
Elena Pasoli and Jacks Thomas on the 60th Bologna Book Fair Opening
Nicholas Yatromanolakis on Bologna’s Market of Honor: ‘The Modern Face of Greece’
IPA’s Events Lineup at Bologna Children’s Book Fair
‘AI’ at Bologna: The Hair-Raising Topic of 2023?
At Bologna: PublisHer Will Have Its First Trade Show Stand
At Bologna: The ‘Taiwan Stories Market’ Program
Pre-Bologna Rights Roundup: ‘Buy Ukrainian Book Rights’
Children’s Rights Edition: A 16th Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids
Bologna Book Fair Names Cross Media Award Winners
Bologna Focus: Italy’s €283 Million Children’s Book Market
Rights Edition: Bologna Book Plus’ Rights Programming
Bologna Book Fair: 2023 Ragazzi Awards
Bologna’s 60th Book Fair: Illustrators Exhibition Winners
Greece Is Bologna Book Plus’ First Market of Honor

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.