The Italian Publishers Association reported eight million fewer books sales, representing some 134 million euros in revenue, in the first four months of 2020, compared with last year. During the period of lockdown, between March 9 and April 12, bookstores saw an an average drop in sales between 70%-85%, depending on whether or not they were able to sell books online and/or offer home delivery of books, the IPA said.

Overall, the association anticipates the industry will lose between 650 to 900 million euros worth of sales, representing between 20% to 30% of the overall market, for the year. In 2019, Italian publishers sold some 3.2 billion euros worth of books.

With bookstores closes for several months, online booksellers accounted for 47% of sales, a significant surge. In addition, some 64% of readers said their book buying decisions were now influenced by social media influencers and marketing. Big box and department stores provided 8% of total sales, while bookstores accounted for 45% of sales for the period, down from 66% the previous year.

Still, publishers and booksellers are battling back, said Ricardo Franco Levi, president of the association. "Strong policies to sustain demand, such as book vouchers given families to encourage the purchase of books at bookstores, may still produce significant effects. If we act quickly.”

International Promotion for Italian books

New Italian Books, a website to promote Italian books to foreign publishers, soft-launched last week. The project, which was expected to launch at this year's canceled Turin Book Fair, offers book summaries, interviews, reviews, as well as information about government sponsored translation grants. The intent is to generate interest in translating books in advance of the 2023 Frankfurt Book Fair, where Italy is scheduled to be guest of honor.