Italy: Più Libri Più Liberi Opens Today in a ‘Stable Market’

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Small- and medium-sized publishers make up 50.1 percent of the Italian book market, reports AIE at today’s Più Libri Più Liberi opening.

At the 2023 Più libri più liberi, which runs through Sunday (December 10) at Rome’s La Nuvola, organized by the Associazione Italiana Editori and Aldus Up. Image:

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

‘A Variety of Voices and Economic Value’
At today’s (December 6) opening of Rome’s annual book fair, Più libri più liberi, the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE) is reporting that the share of the Italian trade industry held by small- and medium-sized publishers remains “stable” in 2022 at 50.1 percent of the market, as compared to 2022’s figures.

The Italian book market, of course, is getting a close and broadly international look this year, on the way to Guest of Honor Italy at the 2024 Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 16 to 20), and this high-visibility public-facing fair each year includes extensive professional programming from AIE and  Aldus Up, which has financing from the European Commission through Creative Europe.

Last year’s share of 50.2 percent for medium and small presses in Italy, like this year’s 50.1 percent, is a reminder of the half-and-half division of publishing houses, large and smaller, in this, the fourth largest national publishing industry in Europe. Industry players say they like this split between the bigger and smaller companies as a sign of market egalitarianism.

Innocenzo Cipolletta

AIE’s president, Innocenzo Cipolletta, in today’s presentation said, “The data we’re presenting today confirm the pluralism that distinguishes Italian publishing. This has cultural value, in terms of a variety of voices” made possible by the range of corporate size and situation, he said, “the economic value being based in the way small- and medium-sized publishing houses often carry out experimentation that opens up new markets and ways of doing business.

“For this reason,” he said, the market’s even division of shares by size of publishers is healthy and something to be perpetuated.

Lorenzo Armando

The president of AIE’s small publishers committee, Lorenzo Aramando, points out that the nation’s market-share stability in terms of the sizes of publishing companies “goes hand-in-hand with a rapid transformation of the business: from the impact of  new technologies, such as artificial intelligence to the problems of distribution, there are many issues we’ll be questioning during the fair.

‘These are issues that require a more conscious approach on the part of us publishers, but also an open discussion with others in the industry and on the public policies to be put into place.”

 Small Houses Up, Medium-Sized Houses Down

The Italian small- and medium-sized publishers in 2023 are at some 50.1 percent share of the overall book publishing market, as compared to last year’s 50.2 percent. Image: AIE, Nielsen BookScan

Looking at several of the key points presented in today’s session at the fair’s Sala Aldus at La Nuvola, designed by for its 2008 opening by Massimiliano Fuksas.

In the first 11 months of this year, per market tracking provided by the AIE with Nielsen BookScan:

  • Italian publishers saw €1.3 billion in sales (US$1.4 billion), representing 85.7 million copies
  • Smaller publishers—those with a value of up to €5 million—sold a total of €352 million in books (valued at cover price), up 4.1 percent from the previous year
  • Large publishing groups—Mondadori, Gems, Feltrinelli and Giunti—had sales of €609.8 million, up 0.5 percent
  • Decreasing, however, the medium-sized publishers’ share outside the large groups, contracted, coming in down 5.5 percent
  • Physical bookstores increased from 53.4 percent to 54.5 percent
  • Large-scale retail increased its share from 4.7 percent to 4.9 percent
  • Online retail declined from 41.9 percent to 40.6 percent

International Literature on the Italian Market

  • In the first 11 months of 2023, Italians read more novels by Italian authors and fewer by foreign authors than in the previous year
  • Italian fiction grew by 5 percent (valued at the cover price)
  • Foreign fiction fell by 4.7 percent

Genre and Sector Trends (Comics Tumbled)

In this chart from the presentation, you can pick up on the 13-percent decline in comics on the Italian market in the first 11 months of this year — see the word ‘fumetti.’ Image: AIE, Nielsen BookScan

  • Despite a lot of market vigor in past years, comics declined 13 percent from their 2022 performance; however, if compared to how they did in 2019, comics still showed a 188.9-percent rise in 2022
  • Children’s and young adult publishing, January through November of 2023, had a mild decline of 0.7 percent
  • Specialty nonfiction was down 1.2 percent
  • General nonfiction (includes current affairs) grew by 5.5 percent
  • Practical nonfiction (such as self-help) grew by 6 percent

Top-Ten Bestsellers in Italy, January -November 2023

Image: AIE, Nielsen BookScan

  1. Spare: Il minore, Prince Harry, Mondadori (January 2023) 
  2. Dammi mille baci, T. Cole, Always Publishing (June 2018) 
  3. La portalettere, F. Giannone, Nord (January 2023) 
  4. La vita intima, N. Ammaniti, Einaudi (January 2023) 
  5. Il mondo al contrario, R. Vannacci, Autopubblicato (August 2023)
  6. 6. Tre ciotole, M. Murgia, Mondadori (May 2023) 
  7. Come d’aria, A. D’Adamo, Elliot (January 2023) 
  8. ELP, A. Manzini, Sellerio (June 2023) 
  9. Le otto montagne, P. Cognetti, Einaudi (October 2018
  10. Due cuori in affitto, F. Kingsley, Newton Compton (April 2022)

Today’s material was presented in a session moderated by L’Espresso‘s Sabina Minardi with publishers Isabella Ferretti of 66thAnd2nd and Enrico Selva Coddè of Mondadori Libri speaking.

The AIE’s Giovanni Peresson presented the data.

Più libri più liberi this year has programmed some 600 events and is fielding 518 exhibitors.

Waiting for entry at La Nuvola in Rome, for the 2023 Più libri più liberi. 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.

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