The year 2018 ended on a slight positive note. The balance compared to 2017 remains positive for the fourth consecutive year: +0.7% based on traditional boundaries. We have not recovered the values of 2011, but we are slowly getting near.
In reality, trade channel in 2018 reveals a slowdown compared to the +4.7% of 2017, due to a combination of causes. In the first place, structural factors, such as the ongoing crisis in largescale retail (in 2011 represented 16.1% of trade channels, by 2018 it was 7.0%), affected by the closure of the largest distributor in this channel, which left book counters of supermarkets and service stations unsupplied for months, and by the lack of important best sellers.
However, this result confirms that, on a like-for-like basis, the publishing sector remains the country’s leading cultural industry. School publishing has grown by +3.5%. And the figure for education overall is around 1.05 billion. For the first time, the children and YA’s segment recorded a negative result: -0.9% in value and -2.9% in copies, therefore quite affecting the sector growth. In the past decade, this segment had made better results than the average for the sector as a whole. The e-book market is growing (+4.7%) and represents almost 5% of the market. But growth is lower than the messianic expectations and hopes of only five years ago. A market for audiobooks is being created, only limited by the catalogue size: 8% of Italians aged 15-75 declare in 2019 that they have listened to at least one. Alongside podcasts, it is one of the new ways of reading, and thinking about, new publishing products designed for the Net.
Growth in the sale of rights abroad (+9.0%: slightly slower than the +10.1% of 2017) was confirmed, driven not only by children’s books (39.0% of sales, down by -5.1%) but also by fiction (25.4% and up by +17.3%). In 2001, 3.7% of published titles aroused interest from foreign publishers; last year this had become 10.6%. It should be remembered, however, that we estimate the total value of exports (rights, co-editions, sales of Italian books abroad) at 5%: we have become more international, but nevertheless that generates only a small part of the companies turnover. The fundamental problem of our publishing industry, and our country, remains unchanged: limited numbers of readers and an absence of policies to develop demand and support the business system comparable to those in other EU countries.
Report on publishing in Italy 2019: Highlights, in English, is available for download HERE