Rights Edition: Baseline News From Torino’s 2024 Trading Center

In News by Porter Anderson

Torino’s professional program has included a report on the Italian industry’s statistics and positive signals from the Rights Center.

In the Rights Center at this week’s the Salone Internazionale del Libro di Torino. The book fair continues its run through Monday, the rights center through today, May 10. Image: SILT

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

See also:
Rights Roundup: Book Catalogues for Torino, and More
Torino’s 2024 Book Fair Expands Its Professional Program
Rights Edition Interview: Torino’s New Director Annalena Benini
At Torino 2024: The German Language Is Guest of Honor
Rights Edition: Torino Rights Center’s Early Bird Pricing

2024 Opens With a Slight Decline for the Trade
During the 36th edition of the Salone Internazionale del Libro di Torino—which runs through Monday—several key points about the Italian book market have been featured in informational programming from the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE).

Particularly in Frankfurter Buchmesse‘s (October 16 to 20) the Guest of Honor Italy year, many are closely watching this particularly resilient European market, which indeed has opened 2024 with a bit of drama. A modest negative statistic has appeared in what’s being tracked from the first four months of 2024, the robust Italian market showing a 2.2-percent downturn in trade publishing.

At the same time, it’s important to note that the results of that opening quadrimester show the market to be running a substantive 15.1 percent better than it did in the same time period in 2019.

‘Publishers Are Moving on Still-Fragile Ground’

With more detail: Italian trade publishing—fiction and nonfiction sold in physical and online bookstores and in large-scale retail outlets—declined 2.2 percent in the first 4 months of the year compared to 2023, with €465.6 million (US$5.8 million) in sales at cover price.

  • The decline in copies was 3.5 percent, with 30.1 million copies sold.
  • Compared to 2019, growth in value was 15.1 percent and in copies was 11.7 percent.

Innocenzo Cipolletta

“The data we are presenting today,” said AIE president Innocenzo Cipolletta, “tell us two things. The first is that Italian publishing is a solid industry that has largely stabilized its post-pandemic growth, thanks to its ability to address new reading requirements.

“The growth of Italian authorship is significant, without, of course, detracting from the very important role of foreign works published in translation that allowed us to learn more about the rest of the world. That’s a recognition of our writers and means that publishers have built professionalism and skills that produce successful titles both in the domestic market and abroad.

“Our participation in Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 16 to 20) as Guest of Honor Italy will enhance this heritage even more and even better in terms of internationalization.

Related article: ‘Italy’s Culture Voucher Evolves.’ Image – Getty iStockphoto: Michele Ursi

In addition, however, Cipolletta went on to say, “Publishers are moving on still-fragile ground. We will understand in the coming months whether the minus signs we are seeing in this first part of the year will be amplified, and to what extent, by the disappearance or modification of measures to support demand such as the special fund for libraries and the Culture and Merit Cards” that have replaced Italy’s internationally admired 18App.

“Certainly, ours remains a country characterized by strong inequalities in reading habits,” Cipolletta acknowledged, “especially between North and South, an issue on which strong public intervention is needed.”

AIE Confirms the Importance of Rights Trading

In the Torino market-overview session, the abiding centricity of “rights sales, co-editions, and publishing brands operating in foreign markets” have been affirmed as “the three poles around which the internationalization of Italian publishing is structured.”

Here are several useful baseline statistics in terms of rights, market-wide, being reported in that session at Torino this week. The survey material drawn on for these numbers is provided by the analysis of the AIE study office based on Nielsen BookScan data and other sources, and has just been presented at the Torino fair in a conference that had the collaboration of Aldus Up and was titled The Book Market in the First Months of 2024.

  • Italian book rights sold abroad rose from 1,800 in 2001 to 7,889 in 2022, the most recent year of data now processed.
  • By contrast, purchased rights (books the rights of which were bought by Italian publishers from overseas) increased from 5,400 to 9,423 in the same time frame.
  • Children’s and young adult books are the top-selling genre in the reporting this week at Torino, standing at 35 percent of the sales the AIE and Nielsen see moving.
  • Nonfiction follows children’s and young-adult books in sales action at 20 percent.
  • General (not children’s) fiction is right behind nonfiction, at 19 percent.

And which world markets and regions are buyers of Italian book rights?

  • Italy’s brother European markets are in the lead, with 62 percent of the rights purchasers.
  • In Europe, the top five European export markets are Spain, France, Poland, Greece, and Germany. Many of our readers will note what an interesting point it is that Greece is out-buying Italian rights over Germany, just on the basis of the difference of market size. Certainly, in this Frankfurt guest-of-honor year, of course, the number of Italian titles being sold into the German market is expected to see a sharp and beneficial rise.
  • Asia follows with 18 percent.
  • South and Central America with 6 percent/
  • The Middle East’s buys account for 5 percent of Italian books’ rights sales offshore.

As for co-editions, in 2022, there were 1,716 co-editions tracked by Italy’s market analysts.

  • In 84 percent, of cases they involved children’s and young adult books.
  • And 93 percent of them involved other European publishers, with 2 percent engaging Asian publishers.
At the Torino Trading Center: Thumbs Up

Torino’s Rights Center opened a day ahead of the main book fair’s exhibition floor, giving professional program participants a head start on their meetings and proposals for rights deals to each other. Image: SILT

Publishing Perspectives has had a chance to be in touch today (May 10) with two of the professional program participants at the Torino Fair to see how things look to them on the ground this weekend.

Claire Sabatie Garat, managing director and partner the Milan-based Italian Literary Agency, is joined in Torino by the agency’s senior agent and partner, Chiara Piovan. No stranger to the Torino program, Garat says, “We’ve participated in the Torino Rights Center since the first edition and we always attend.”

Claire Sabatie Garat

Garat says her agency is also regularly found at London Book Fair, Frankfurter Buchmesse, Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the Paris fairs and the Venice and Cannes books-to-film programs.

“Torino,” she says, “has a good selection of publishers and producers, with good timing after London Book Fair and before the summer and the releases of the autumn.”

In terms of what she’s presenting this week, Garat says she’s getting strong interest on:

  • A murder mystery La piscina by Giacomo Papi, published by Feltrinelli
  • A sentimental comedy with a magic touch La stagione bella by Francesco Carofiglio (brother of Gianrico), published by Garzanti
  • A family saga telling the outbursts and contradictions of the bourgeoisie, Ritorno in Puglia by Marco Ferrante from Bompiani
  • The true story of an ecological and social drama, the largest plant epidemic in the world, Il fuoco invisibile by Daniele Rielli from Rizzoli, a book longlisted for Premio Strega
  • “And also growing interest in our Contemporary Classics list including Un amore by Dino Buzzati, among others.”

Overall, Garat tells Publishing Perspectives, “It’s going very well, full days of meetings, with a good mix of territories, new contacts, and traditional meetings.”

Alessia Polli is in executive development with an Italian production company called Greenland.

Alessia Polli

“I’ve been coming to Torino for more than 15 years now,” Polli says. “I’ve met many foreign agents, scouts and publishers right here, forming consolidated relationships over time. Torino and its rights center are always an unmissable professional opportunity because of the variety of proposals and the great professionalism of the organization.

This week, she says, she’s found no shortage of content being pitched her way, as she watches for promising development-worthy material.

“I met many agents with interesting lists for audiovisual rights,” Polli says. “We’ll read and evaluate if and what to option—there are many genre proposals to take into consideration.”

Overall? “Everything is very beautiful,” Polli says. “Meetings, relationships, books.”

And Renata Petruseva works as an international rights agent at the MalaTesta Literary Agency, based in Milan.

Renata Petruseva

“This is not the first time we’ve attended the Torino rights center,” she says. “As an Italian agency based in Milan, we always look forward to the Torino fair as our favorite, where we can have rights meetings. There are also many authors who present their books and their projects at the pavilions of the fair. So yes, we’re here every year, it’s a logical decision and so natural for us to be here. We really feel at home, in such a hospitable environment and such a vibrant publishing scene, as the Turin one.

“In these three intense days, we presented our highlights and our most successful books published in 2024 and we also gave a quick glimpse to colleagues of our forthcoming fall releases, and encountered great interest in our books.

The true standouts were:

  • Silvia Avallone’s new novel, Cuore nero (Rizzoli), out in Italy at the end of January, constantly the in Top 10 of the charts for more than 16 weeks and already sold into 20 countries
  • Federica De Paolis’ Da partecipare di madre (Feltrinelli), out a few weeks ago in Italy and performing amazingly, non-stop in the charts
  • Ginevra Lamberti’s Il pozzo Vale più del tempo (Marsilio), out in March, longlisted for the Strega Prize and already acquired in Germany and at play in France in an auction at the moment

Everything went very well, the meetings were so productive and we really felt part of that adrenaline and positive energy that always surrounds these gatherings. We love books and we think that it’s very important to make them travel, especially in this moment , with all the violence and hatred around. We think that now, living through the words of people from all around the world is crucial to build an open society and conscious and responsible future generations.

As always, the mix of publishers we met was perfect, very much in line with our projects and very useful to make them reach and be alive in every corner of the world. You can get from my words that the experience was super-positive. We keep coming back and we’ll keep doing it.

A Bit More on the Italian Market’s 2024 Start

In the Rights Center at this week’s the Salone Internazionale del Libro di Torino. Image: SILT

In analysis provided to Publishing Perspectives today, the AIE’s statistical team says that a part of what is causing the 2.2-percent shortfall in the trade from January to April has to do with new launch policies put into place by publishers. Also, since 2023, there appears to be a widely recognized downturn in manga sales.

Of interest: Sales of Top 10 titles in the first four months of the year were lower than in 2023 by 90,000 copies worth €2.5 million (US$2.69 million) at cover price. In addition, the number of new books published, January through April this year, fell by 4.6 percent from the same time frame in 2023.

And to put some numbers into that perceived lag in manga sales, they’re down a substantial 18.4 percent, with sales running 3.3 million fewer than last year.

Overall, the average cover price of books has increased by 1.4 percent in the first four months over where that average price stood in 2023, while the consumer price index from January to March (April is not available yet) was at 1.2 percent. Between 2019 and 2024, growth in the cover price of books sold, the AIE reports, was 3 percent against inflation of 16.5 percent.

Several more quick data points:

  • Physical bookstores come in first with a 54.8-percent share of total sales, up from a low of 49.6 percent touched in 2021, but still far from the 65.9 percent pre-pandemic of 2019.
  • Online is at 40.7 percent against the high of 45 percent reached in 2021, but well above the 27 percent of 2019.
  • Large-scale retail still declines and is now at 4.5 percent.
  • In the first four months of 2024, Italian authorship has gained share and is growing against the market average. Out of €445.3 million (US$479.2 million) in cover price sales in physical and digital bookstores (large-scale distribution is excluded here): €250.2 million are of books by Italian authors (up 1.3 percent compared to 2023, and €195.1 million are of books by foreign authors (-5.6 percent).

In the first four months of the year, Italian fiction grew by 8% and foreign fiction by 3.1%. Children’s and young adults’ books are down by 3.1%, manuals by 3.9%, specialized non-fiction by 4.1%, general and popular non-fiction by 5.7%, and comic books by 11.1% (which, however, compared to 2019 are growing by 161.8%). The numbers for romance are significant: books written by Italian authors grow by 48.7% to 52.6% of the total, while sales by foreign authors drop (-15.5%). Overall, romance grows by 9.3%.

More from us on the Torino International Book Fair is here, more on international book fairs and trade shows overall is here, more on Guest of Honor Italy at Frankfurt this year is here, and more on Frankfurter Buchmesse 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.com, 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.