Italy: ‘Più libri più liberi’ Book Fair: A Record 115,000+ Attendees

In News by Porter Anderson

As many as 17,000 students were among the largest turnout on record for Italy’s book fair showcasing independent publishers.

At Rome’s 2023 ‘Più libri più liberi book fair produced by the Italian publishers’ association. The public-facing show of small- and medium-sized publishers at the Nuvola dell’Eur convention-center complex saw record attendance and ‘strongly growing sales.’ Image: AIE

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

See also:
Rights Roundup: Italy’s Rights Sales Ruled by Kids’ Books
Italy: Più Libri Più Liberi Opens Today in a ‘Stable Market’

Cipolletta: ‘A Great Book Celebration’
First produced in December 2002 as an idea of the Gruppo Piccoli Editori dell’Associazione Italiana Editori, the 21st iteration of Più libri più liberi, a show dedicated to small- and medium-sized independent publishers closed on Sunday (December 10) with a record attendance level of more than 115,000 visitors.

Set at Rome’s luminous, glassy convention center La Nuvola, the show is annually organized by the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE) and this year staged more than 670 events—another record—featuring Italian and international authors and other speakers.

The rights trading center, set on a high deck in La Nuvola glassy upper floors—see our notes from Friday’s Rights Roundup—hosted 84 Italian publishers in meetings with 51 international publishers from 23 nations. Produced in collaboration with Aldus Up, which has support from the European Commission through Creative Europe, the center logged 647 meetings.

Because of the big turnout of international publishers, in fact, the trading center used two floors, N4 and N5, and included a fellowship program arranged with support from ICE-Agenzia, the Italian trade agency, and the Swiss Arts Council’s Pro Helvetia initiative, the latter of which made it possible for 10 German-language publishers to visit some of Rome’s publishing houses.

A total 26 events were offered in the business center, AIE reporting strong attendance for presentations of data (which we’ve covered in our earlier stories here and here). Issues covered in presentations at the business center included the impact of artificial intelligence, the relevance of the publisher’s catalogue, self-publishing, the growth of romance, and sustainability policies in publishing houses.

The business center, indeed, had its own lounge curated by Gino Piardi and Maria Stella Folcando with the Perrero Experience, an artistic project of which they are founders, a key element being reusable materials in the company’s furnishings.

Innocenzo Cipolletta

In a prepared statement, AIE president Innocenzo Cipolletta is quoted, saying, “It was a great book celebration: the AIE is proud to have been alongside small- and medium-sized publishers this year again in organizing a unique event in Europe” in that it helps the public appreciate independent and smaller publishers. “It’s about a pluralist editorial production,” he says, “as it should be, and which represents the richness of the Italian cultural offer.”

Annamaria Malato, who serves as president of Più libri più liberi, says, “Our event is still growing: students numbered more than 17,000,” as an example.

And other officials including Lorenzo Armando, president of the AIE small publishers committee, talks about the opportunity of the fair not only to meet readers but also “to have discussions with between vendors.

“Perhaps never like this year,” Armando says, “have the 26 meetings at the business center seen such active participation from entrepreneurs and professionals animated by the passion and desire to explore new avenues, and at the same time aware that the context, objectively complex and fragile, requires higher managerial skills and a system vision.”

Chiara Valerio, who curates the show’s programming elements, says that next year’s theme will be The Measure of the World, positioning international publishing as a map of the world.

Publishing professionals can expect the framework of Più libri più liberi to have some impact and influence relative to independent publishing on programming for the 2024  program headed for Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 16 to 20).

And in association with next year’s iteration of Più libri più liberi, it’s expected that a new Più libripiù Laguna produced by AIE with Palazzo Grassi and Libreria Marco Polo will be set in Venice, a kind of branch edition of the main show in Rome with sessions set in the Teatrino of the Palazzo Grassi and expected to start on February 16.

At Rome’s Nuvola during Più libri più liberi 2023. Image: AIE

More from us on the Italian market is here, more on Rome’s Piu libri piu liberi is here, more on the work of the Italian Publishers Association is here,  more on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, more on Guest of Honor Italy at Frankfurt is here, more on guest of honor programs in the international arena is here, more on book fairs and trade shows is here, and more on industry statistics 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.