By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Developing Story: More Figures ComingOne of the traditions of the Scuola per Librai Umberto e Elisabetta Mauri (UEM) is a report on the final day of this “school for booksellers” set in Venice on the Italian market’s financial performance in the previous year.
Today (January 26), as the Scuola Mauri has closed its 41st edition with booksellers and publishers gathered in the Cini Foundation’s soaring 10th-century Benedictine monastery on San Giorgio Maggiore, representatives of the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE) and the Federation of European Publishers have presented figures indicating that in 2023, the Italian book market saw trade publishing grow by 0.8 percent in value, with a slight decline in the number of copies sold.
That point—of valuation being a bit up and unit sales being a bit down—aligns Italy’s performance with some other world markets in which attempts are being made to carefully raise the prices of books, which have rarely followed inflationary dynamics as other goods and services have done.
Turnover in Italy and Europe
Italy is Europe’s fourth-largest book market after the United Kingdom, Germany, and France, and as was reported today by AIE president Innocenzo Cipolletta, Italy’s 2023 consumer book revenue reached €1.7 billion (US$1.8 billion) based on cover price, up 0.8 percent over the previous year, and up 14.1 percent over the 2019 market’s performance.
By contrast, unit sales were tracked by 111.9 million, down .07 percent by comparison to 2022 and up 12.6 over the 2019 figures.
Considerable attention is being paid to such numbers in 2024, of course, as Guest of Honor Italy moves into its year in the spotlight of Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 16 to 20)
Cipolletta warned that, “In 2023, the [Italian] market did not do too badly, but 2024 will be a difficult challenge because of the lack of some measures to support the demand for books, while the growth of production costs weigh on publishers’ budgets.
“This is why we call for an industrial policy for books which is central to the country’s economic and cultural growth.
“On the other hand,” he said, “Italian fiction has shown good growth, but I would say more generally of Italian authorship, shows us a sign of the growing competitive fitness of the national publishing industry.
“For that reason,” Cipolletta said, “we’re optimistic about Guest of Honor Italy 2024 at Frankfurt. The Italian industry can bring its work to bear even more than it has so far on international markets.”
More from Publishing Perspectives on Italy and its book publishing industry is here. More on industry statistics is here, more on Stefano Mauri is here, more on Ricardo Franco Levi is here, more on James Daunt is here, more on Thalia is here, more on bookselling is here and more from us on the Scuola per Librai Umberto e Elisabetta Mauri is here.