Italian book sales grow by 44% in first half of 2021

Italian book sales grow by 44% in first half of 2021

The Italian book market has grown in the first six months of 2021, according to figures from the Italian Publishers Association (AIE), with 15 million more copies of printed books sold through trade channels compared to 2020, an increase of 44%. 

According to the figures, based on NielsenIQ data, these sales generated €207m more for the industry compared to 2020, an increase of 42%, and €156m more compared to 2019, up 28%, bringing the total value of the book industry in the first six months of the year to €698m. 

AIE president Ricardo Franco Levi said: “The book market is currently like a tide that, as it rises, lifts all the boats with it. But the results that we are seeing are not at all random. That is from the hard work of publishers and all other players in the book industry who have continued to invest and innovate even throughout the most difficult months of the pandemic, and that is thanks to the government and parliament who safeguarded the sector, primarily by allowing bookstores to reopen during the lockdowns and therefore launching important measures in support of demand, the effects of which are now evident.”

The Italian publishing market was hit particularly hard at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, with bookshops closed for months. They reopened in mid-April 2020 in acknowledgement of the essential nature of books, in spite of wider quarantine and travel restrictions remaining in place. The latest growth is registered in all genres and all sales channels, although large-scale distribution is still encountering some difficulties. 

The AIE said: "In terms of sales channels, bookstores (both independent and chains) are growing, reaching a quota of €332.9m, thus overcoming the difficulties of 2020 and doing better even as compared to 2019 (€313.6m). The online boom is confirmed, reaching a quota of €327.9m in 2021 (47% of the market) as compared to €184.6m in 2019 and therefore does not take away sales from competing channels but allows the market to take a leap a forward. The situation is more difficult for large-scale distribution."

Although growth is consistent across all genres, the AIE said there have been "specific spikes in books on games and free time" where sales quadrupled, as well as comic books, where sales tripled. Books on politics, literary criticism with a focus on Dante, and biographies and autobiographies have all nearly doubled. The AIE said the whole market is moving, not just bestsellers. The 50 top sellers account for only 7.7% of the total cover value and 6.9% of the total cover price, a sign of widespread sales in a large number of titles.