Trade publishing in Italy in 2022 (print fiction and non-fiction books sold in physical bookshops, online and through major retail chains) sold €1.671 billion in sales at cover price, with 112.6 million copies, in slight decrease compared to the previous year (-2.3% in value and -2.4% in copies), but still a clear increase compared to 2019 (+13.1% in value and +13.3% in copies). In 2022 Italians bought 13 million more books than in 2019.

These are the main market figures presented by Italian Publishers Association in collaboration with Nielsen BookScan at the conference by the Umberto e Elisabetta Mauri School for Booksellers. These figures show how Italian market has radical changed after pandemia, with a strong increase of catalogue and e-commerce.

Prices don’t increase. Compared to 2021, the number of printed news published decreased (76,575, -10.5%), however up by 3.8% compared to 2019. The average cover price of books was €14.84, the same as in 2021 and 0.9% lower than in 2019. In 2022, published e-books also decreased (35,200, -28.6%).

The audiobook market is growing, the e-book market is declining. The value of the trade market, equal to €1.671 billion for printed books alone, grows to €1.775 billion (-2.5% on 2021) if we also take into account audiobooks and e-books. Audiobooks, in particular, went from €24 million (value of subscriptions) in 2021 to €25 million in 2022, up by 4.2%. The e-book market drops, going from €86 million to €79 million, with a decrease of 8%.

Sales grow in physical bookshops and decline in online and major retail chains. After the collapse suffered in 2020, physical bookshops continue their recovery and close the year with €889 million in sales, up 1% compared to the previous year. This growth mainly affected chain bookshops which, in cities, stations and airports, benefited from the end of the lockdown. But this figure is not enough to balance the losses of online (sales dropped by 5% to €705 million) and major retail chains which continues its decline with -10% to €77 million.

The first purchasing channel for books are physical bookshops whose market share grows to 53.2%, followed by online with 42.2%, while large-scale distribution drops to 4.6%.

The whole market is moving, not just the bestsellers. The catalogue is growing (a lot) – The 100 best-selling titles account for only 8.1% of the total market at cover value and 7.1% in terms of copies: a sign of a market distributed over an ever-increasing number of titles. Compared to 2019, catalogue increases by 18%, new releases increase by 8%.

Fiction increases, non-fiction declines. The trend by genre in 2022 was very uneven with strong growth in all fiction (comics +8.6%, foreign fiction +7%, Italian fiction +4.9%) and a significant decline in general non-fiction (- 8.6%) and professional (-12.3%). Excluding the first four weeks of the year and the summer period, the top hundred titles always sold less in 2022 than in 2021, a sign of a market that relied more on the catalogue than on the new offerings. To confirm this, the best-selling book in 2022 was actually published the year before and, more generally, in the top 10 there is also a title from 2019 and one from the beginning of 2020. No release scheduled close to the Christmas period ended up in the top ten (last year there were two).

Best-selling genres. Among the books that had the most success during the year compared to 2021: household manuals increased by 247%, Italian love novels (+194%), Italian chick lit (+184%), comics for the 10-13 age group (+64%), leisure quizzes (+61%), foreign romance novels (+49%), tourist guides (+48%).

The full presentation is available for download on AIE website