The Italian book market is on the road to recovery, according to fresh figures from the Italian Publishers Association (AIE), which state that its book trade's year-on-year revenue losses almost halved in the space of a few months, improving from –20% in April to –11% in July.
"The data we present today shows encouraging signs of an upturn," said AIE president Ricardo Franco Levi, whose research department conducted the study based on data provided by Nielsen and bibliographic data firm IE (Informazioni Editoriali). "The book market reveals a path to recovery for the entire Italian economy."
In July 2019, the Italian books market was worth €600m but in July 2020 it was 11% down, with a value of €533m. However, in April it had been 20% down on the equivalent month last year.
The Italian publishing market has been hard-hit during the Covid-19 pandemic, with bookshops closed for months. They reopened in mid-April in acknowledgement of the essential nature of books, in spite of wider quarantine and travel restrictions remaining in place.
The explanation given by the AIE for the relative comeback is that, since mid-June, Italians have gone back to buying as much as last year in bookshops and through large-scale distribution, whereas online purchases have increased compared to 2019, "thus allowing a partial recoup of market shares lost during the previous months".
The findings showed that after registering a nadir of 70% fewer weekly sales year on year between March and April, since mid-June bookshops and online stores registered to Nielsen's Arianna data service (excluding Amazon) had gone back to selling as much as last year, with sales peaking at 2.5% up year on year in the week ending 19th July. "If we add Amazon, despite not having accurate week-by-week data, this past month’s result is highly positive," the AIE said.
As well as showing rebounding revenues, the same study revealed the market share of bookshops and large-scale distribution experienced a partial increase in the past few months. Physical bookshops went from claiming 52% of sales in April to 56% in July, while the market share of online stores slid correspondingly, from 48% to 44%.
The AIE said: "The next few months will reveal whether bookstores and large-scale distribution will continue to recover, or if the period of closure has accelerated a reinforcement process of online channels that has been underway for years now."