Comics and novels push 2022 for Italian publishing

Comics and novels push 2022 for Italian publishing

2022 has just come to an end and the Italian publishing industry has recently released sales data for the last year. What particularly emerges is that the year ended just under 1.7 million euros (an economic range between 1.676 and 1.687 billion euros) of sales at cover price, a slight decrease compared to 2021 (between - 1.1% and -1.8%). The estimate, which is part of the Nielsen BookScan data, was shared by the Italian Publishers Association during the first day of Più libri più libera. Among the most important data, it also stands out that in the first eleven months of 2022, the market value (i.e. sales at cover price) was 1.268 billion euros, down 2.3% compared to 2021 but growing by 12.9% compared to 2019 pre-pandemic. In addition, 86.8 million copies were sold, up 14.5% compared to 2019, but down 2% compared to 2021.

2022 for Italian publishing explained by experts

The president of AIE Ricardo Franco Levi , explained:

A year of consolidation after the great results of 2021 which in itself testifies to the vitality of the publishing industry and the Italians' desire to read. But it must also be said that the publishers have kept the increase in costs at home without passing it on to the price of the books. We are asking the institutions to restore the tax credit on paper, which has instead been maintained for newspapers.

In fact, despite the general increase in prices in Italy in 2022, the average price of sales is around 14.62 euros, down 0.4% compared to 2021. However, the new press published in the year are 62,745, a decrease of 2% compared to the previous year.

Diego Guida , president of the Small Publishers group of AIE, for his part emphasized the  territorial disparities and in particular the difficulties of the distribution network in the South, emphasizing how the non-fiction crisis has weighed more on small publishers rather than large groups, more present in fiction. In fact, apparently, in the first eleven months of the year, novels by foreign authors grew by 9.1%, those by Italians by 4.3%, comics by 15.9%. Professional non-fiction, on the other hand, dropped by 13.3%, general non-fiction by 10.8% and children and young people by 2.5%. Guida also wanted to share the difficulties of small publishers in accessing the distribution network and in particular bookshops:

From an informal survey among us small publishers associated with AIE, we understand that 30% of our turnover comes through the distributor, everything else is our initiative.

In this regard Alessandro Monti, from Librerie Feltrinelli, wanted to underline:

Our bookstores are the flagship of their variety of offers: in the last year we sold 352,000 different titles from 4814 publishers. These are important numbers, they account for the extraordinary effort to give life and visibility to the enormous Italian publishing production, that we realize how big it is here at Più libri più libera. Imagine what a bookcase should be like to display everything there, not counting the production of large groups. This is why publishers complain about not getting into the bookstore, it's impossible. Growth has been eaten online, but we are resisting, here we are.

In the first eleven months of the year, in fact, sales in physical bookstores grew by 1.3% to 674.8 million. On the other hand, online declined by 5.3% to 532.9 million, large-scale distribution by 12.7% to 60.7 million. However, the comparison with 2019 continues to be very favorable for online: in three years its market share has increased from 30.1% to 42%, while bookstores have increased from 64% to 53%.

Among the other data, the survey by the AIE Study Office stands out, which classifies Italian publishing brands by sales class, regardless of whether or not they belong to large groups. The survey revealed that in Italy there are 7,459 brands that have sold at least one copy of one of their titles in the last year, while 5,449 brands have published a new product in the last year. Over 20 million sold at cover price there are nine brands that have 36% of the market. In the range between 20 and 5 million in turnover there are 41 brands which represent 32% of sales. Another 92 brands are in the range of 5 to one million sales, for a market share of 16%. Lastly, over 7,300 brands are below the one million sales mark. Of these, only two hundred have sales above 300,000 euros.

The publishers Gerardo Mastrullo (La Vita Felice) and Gregorio Pellegrino (Effatà), members of the board of small publishers of AIE, also wanted to offer their considerations on the matter. Mastrullo underlined:

Digital printing on the one hand, e-commerce on the other have favored the birth and, in recent years, the growth of small publishers because the web is democratic. But the theme, rather, is not to become too Amazon-dependent in the face of book chains increasingly focused on the proposals of large groups. In this, the recovery of independent bookstores helps us a bit.

Pellegrino, on the other hand, explained:

In this sense, small publishers must learn to work more together, to share investments in fields that otherwise would not be possible. Furthermore, it is clear that there is a generational theme: today there are small publishers born in the 1990s on the market whose founders are now reaching retirement age. The passing of the baton to the children is not obvious for everyone. Facilitating generational transitions, the creation of consortia, could be strategic in these cases. With the aim of overcoming the obstacle of 6 million cover value sales in the trade market, which is the level beyond which important economies of scale can be implemented.

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