The Italians who read printed books are just over half of the population between 15 and 75 years of age, 55% to be exact; and they grow to 61% also considering ebooks and audiobooks: one still low percentage, especially when compared to the other major European countries – 92% in France, 86% in Great Britain, 69% in Germany, 68% in Spain – but growing or at least in recovery. This is what emerges from the White Paper on Italian Reading, presented in streaming during the ‘Turn the page’ event organized by the Center for Book and Reading, with the intervention of the Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini.


You register a increase in readers of printed books by 3.8% in October 2020 compared to May of the same year, although in the first part of the year, in May compared to October of the previous year, there was a decrease of 3.6%. But if we also add ebooks and audiobooks to printed books, then the percentage of readers rises from 55% to 61% of the population and records an increase of 5.3% in October compared to May.

In particular, the latest data contained in the White Paper indicate in 29% the Italians who read only printed books, in 6% those who read only ebooks and audiobooks and in 26% those who read books anyway, for a total of 61%, while there remains one ‘hard core’ equal to 39% of non-readers. At the same time, purchasing behavior and the size of the market also change.

In one year, from October 2019 to October 2020, the percentage of those who bought only printed books decreases from 41% to 36% while the percentage of buyers only ebooks and audiovisuals and from 22% to 27% that of those who buy both, while non-buyers remain at 37%. The digital library loan grew enormously during the lockdown period: by 250% in phase 1 and by 103% in December.

In 2020, i government funding for the sector they concerned 180 million euros for 18Apps, 16 for the Carta Cultura, 30 for the purchase fund for libraries, 10 for aid to small publishers, 12 for tourism and art publishers, 10 for tax credits for bookstores , 5 for aid to translators and one as a contribution for the translation of books abroad.

Between lines of action for the future of the book, deriving from government commitments, funding is indicated in the White Paper through tenders for bookshops, libraries and the third sector, import-export, small publishers and ‘book capitals’; while the policies and promotion strategies include the quality register of bookstores, the database on pacts and the ‘city that reads’, reading in schools and combating cultural poverty.

“We will continue to support the book: we did it in an emergency, with support measures for the entire supply chain, with important resources”. This is what it ensures the Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini, speaking at the streaming presentation of the ‘White Book on Reading’ during the ‘Turn the Page’ event organized by the Center for Book and Reading.

“Growth is not a fact common to all countries, in Italy it has been greater: a great phase of experimentation awaits us, as after all the great elements of ‘rupture’, as in the post-war period – says Franceschini – even this pandemic that we are experiencing. crossing is, after all, a war. Many things will change when it will be over and a great capacity for reflection and analysis and understanding of the phenomena of change that have occurred in this period will be needed “.

The Minister of Culture is keen to underline that “in the red areas, the libraries remained open like all other essential services, as for supermarkets, groceries, pharmacies. This is a really important recognition, which has brought positive consequences in terms of sales and has also given a very important signal to the country: books and reading are essential goods and indispensable “.

At the same time, Franceschini recalls, “we introduced a new standard, which they have looked at with attention and appreciation also in the rest of Europe: the measure for 30 million euros for the purchase of libraries, however binding it to the books from libraries of the territory, thus helping the entire supply chain “.

This rule, asks the Minister of Culture, “does not remain linked only to the emergency, but resources are found to help bookstores, libraries, publishers, authors and translators. We have already set up a writing table at the Mic a law by the end of the legislature, which integrates with those already approved and already in force, to help the book and the reading chain as it is already done for the cinema sector, helping all parties “.

(by Enzo Bonaiuto)

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