Book market crash, in 2020 expected losses of up to 900 million


From the health emergency to the cultural one. The country’s largest cultural industry, the publishing industry, collapses and something must be done before it is too late. Ricardo Franco Levi, president of the Italian Publishers Association (IEA), in presenting the sales data of the first four months that shocked the world of books – with the closure of bookstores due to the pandemic – estimates a loss at the end of 2020 of between 650 and 900 million euros out of a total turnover of 3.2 billion euros.


Virus, the revolt of bookstores

According to Nielsen estimates, the publishing market varies (fiction and non-fiction) in bookstores, online stores and large-scale retail trade organized from January 1st until May 3rd this year had a net loss of 90.3 million euros. Considering also the sales outside the channels detected by the research institutes (stationery stores, direct sales, fairs, specialist and university bookstores) the loss rises to approximately 134 million euros, to which must be added the block of news. From March 16 to May 3, publishers distributed by major national groups froze 91.1 percent of releases, while ebook production increased by 28.6 percent.



So booksellers resist the virus

Purchasing habits also change, increasingly digital. According to the analysis provided by the IEA, the bookstores that have limited a drop in revenues which in some cases was even 90 per cent of turnover compared to 2019 are those that have reinvented themselves on the net and on the territory: a site for continue to sell, home delivery sometimes carried out, even by bicycle, by the booksellers themselves and the dialogue kept alive with readers on social media, between Facebook pages updated even more than usual and direct Instagram to make up for presentations that can no longer be do as in the past with the physical presence of people.



Coronavirus, disinfectants, files and many cautions: bookstores reopen in Lazio too

If there is something good in all this, it is that we will no longer hear about paper versus digital and independent booksellers compared to chain booksellers. In such a scenario it is essential, as Levi also points out, to remain united, avoid losing publishing houses, bookstores, authors, translators, distributors or other parts of the editorial chain and start again from the simplest gesture there is: the purchase of a book.



Why can’t we read a novel at the time of the virus

“In agreement with the requests that other European publishers and other booksellers will also make to their ministers of Culture, we ask the Italian government for a million one-hundred euro purchase vouchers to distribute to families with children of five or six years of age, to spend in physical bookstores “announces Levi, who considers direct distribution of funds more cumbersome than the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčthis card, although he hopes that something will also come to the world of books from the Culture Fund of 210 million euros.



Antonio Franchini: “The virus killed the books”

“The Italian publishing industry is ready to face this revolution. The game is not yet lost, but the support of the institutions and all the operators is needed. There is no more time to waste”, however, underlines Levi, taking inspiration from the booksellers’ resilience . In this period of confinement and timid recovery of activities there are seventeen bookstores in Italy – three of which in Lombardy, one in Rome, but the IEA has not mentioned names – which have even increased their revenues.

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