2010 2011 2012 2013
40% 40% 41% 42%
39% 35% 32% 31%
5% 9% 11% 12%
16% 16% 16% 15%
SOURCE: ELABORATION BY AIE RESEARCH DEPARTMENT ON NIELSEN DATA
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY ■ DECEMBER 22, 2014 26
A Roman Festival: More Books, More Freedom
BY MARK ROTELLA
The Piu Libri, Piu Liberi book festival took place December 4–8 in Rome. The festival—Italy’s third largest, after the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and the Turin International Book Fair—was at the Palazzo dei Congressi, part of Mussolini’s
Universal Exposition (EUR), built in 1942 and intended for the
World’s Fair. The festival, which translates as more books, more
freedom, hosted 359 presenters and drew a crowd of 56,000 industry professionals and consumers.
The fair, organized by the Association of Independent Publishers (AIE) and the Italian Trade Agency (ITA), is primarily designed to showcase titles from small- and mid-size publishers.
Among the houses taking advantage of the opportunity were
Sellerio Editore, who held a signing by bestselling mystery writer Andrea Camilleri, and Nutrimenti, who held signings for
American author Percival Everett. At the Bao booth, graphic
novelist Zerocalcare spent hours autographing copies of his newest bestseller, Dimenticata il mio nome. Also present was Edizioni
E/O, publisher of bestselling novelist Elena Ferrante; Minimum
Fax, publisher of Jennifer Egan’s novels; Edizioni Sonda, which
publishes vegan and vegetarian cookbooks; and Tsunami Ed-izione, which has a full list of metal and rock music books.
This year’s fair was also part of a larger effort to bring more
international attention to Italian publishing. Several years ago
the ITA established a task force to create ways to give different
sectors of Italian publishing more visibility among foreign publishers. The projects include a website ( italbooks.com) that lists
more than 240 publishers and 1,100 titles. To help bring more
international and national attention to Rome’s book festival, the
ITA invited 65 fellows to the fair— 40 publishers from Italy and
25 from Europe, Brazil, Canada, and the U.S.
In order to better understand the market for
books translated from Italian, Matteo Picari-ello, trade commissioner of ITA’s Chicago
office, invited Chad Post, publisher of Open
Letter, to research Italian translations in the
U.S. market and to present a report. One of
Post’s more notable findings was that the top
10 American publishers of literature in translation published 482 books between the start
of 2012 and September 2014, only 41 of
which were translated from Italian. Post notes
that “these fellowships are a great start for
building a network between American and
Italian editors” and hopes that they will lead
to more translations.
The conference began with a series of
ITALIAN BOOKS SALES BY CHANNELS 2010–2013
sessions that looked at the state of Italian publishing in 2014.
Piero Attanasio, of the AIE, explained that Italy ranks eighth in
the world in terms of the number of titles published annually,
with China and the U.S. leading the pack. The 68,121 titles released in 2013 (a number that excludes e-books and self-published works) marked a 23% increase over title output in 2000,
and there are now approximately 813,000 titles in print in Italy.
According to the AIE research department, book sales in Italy fell
4.7% in 2013, compared to 2012. Italy’s six largest
publishers(Mondadori, RCS, GeMS, Giunt, Feltrinelli, De Agostini) account for 60% of sales, making it all the more important
to promote small publishers in the international market. Within
the Italian market, chain and independent bookstores combined
to account for 73% of sales last year, while online retailers—the
biggest channel in the U.S.—accounted for 12% of sales.
The research also found that Italians read less than other
Europeans, with only 43% of Italy’s population reading one
book or more per year. And despite the large market share of
bricks-and-mortar stores in Italy, the country is facing an issue
familiar to American booksellers and publishers: the disappearance of bookstores, especially in cities of 50,000– 80,000 inhabitants. ■