Last year was an "annus horribilis" for the Italian book trade with plunging domestic sales and exports—a decline which has continued in 2013—though digital has continued to grow.
Those were the top-line results of "Report on the State of Publishing in Italy 2013", the most recent update of the annual look at the Italian market by the Associazione Italiana Editori (AIE), the Italian publishers association.
The report was presented at this month’s Frankfurt Book Fair.
The Italian book trade generated revenues of €3.11bn (£2.6bn) in 2012, a decline of 6.3% year on year. However, that figure includes remainder titles and non-book, which rose 23% to €262m. Strip out remainder and non-book and the Italian trade has declined a
Overall, it has been a trying half decade for Italian booksellers and publishers. Revenues have fallen 19.5% in the past five years, from a height of nearly €4bn in 2008. A bright spot has been the e-book sector, which has doubled year on year—though from very
low levels. Trade books accounted for 2% of all sales in 2012 (€62m), which reached as high as 4%–5% for some fiction titles.
"These values are still modest in absolute terms, yet show a process of fast growth, much faster than e-commerce at large," the AIE said in the report.
The appetite for e-reading is growing. In 2012, 3% of over 16- year-olds said they had read at least one e-book, a rise of 45% over 2011, a 136% rise on 2010. Though data is still being collected for 2013, the AIE said: "The crisis in the Italian economy is still ongoing. The signals emerging from the first part of the year confirm the negative effects
[on publishing]: -4% on the same period the previous year."