Frankfurt Guest of Honor Italy: Trade Book Sales Up in 2023

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

A new report from Italy shows the value of its consumer book market rose in 2023, despite a slight drop in overall unit sales.

At the Cini Foundation on Venice’s island San Giorgio Maggiore, site of the 2024 Scuola per Librai Umberto e Elisabetta Mauri (UEM), the annual “school for booksellers, which has included the 2023 book publishinhg financial report. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

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

Developing Story: More Figures Coming
One 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

In this graphic presented by Ricardo Franco Levi, president of the Federation of European Publishers, we see some context on the EU’s publishing year at the Scuola Mauri in Venice. The net turnover corresponds to a cover price value of approximately €37-€38 billion in 2023. And you’re looking at a charting of publishers’ net turnover in billions of euors, 2004 to 2022. Image: Federation of European Publishers

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.”

The Italian market presentation on January 26 in the – Salone degli Arazzi at San Giorio Maggiore’s Cini Foundation in Venice. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

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.

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.