The results of a new survey by the Italian Publishers Association (AIE) and the Center for Books and Reading revealed that Italians are reading more during the pandemic.
Some 61% of respondents said they had read a book in the past 12 months, compared with 58% in 2019. In addition, buying patterns shifted, with 3.4 million Italians having said they bought bought their books online for the first time this year and 2.3 million bought their first e-books. Some 40% of Italian readers are using either e-books or audiobooks, which is up from 32% last year.
Still, this doesn't mean bookstores are suffering quite as much as they were earlier in the year when sales plummeted during lockdowns; today 67% of readers say they shop in physical stores, which is down understandably from the 74% who said they shopped in physical bookstores last year.
"This new survey reveals that reading is back on the rise and that Italians are returning to bookshops, the heart of Italian cultural vitality," said Diego Marani, president of the Center for Books and Reading.
Commenting on the survey, Paola Passarelli, director general of Libraries and Copyright of Ministry of Culture and Heritage Activities, credited action by the Italian government as key in bolstering reading and book buying. Among the measures the government took to support the book business were offering companies emergency funds and tax credits as well as issuing debit cards to needy families to buy books.
Ricardo Franco Levi, president of AIE, was pleased with the survey results, "The data on reading is in line with the trend of recovering book sales and are encouraging for both publishers and public institutions, which have done a lot in recent months to support the world of books." However, he added, "We are not yet out of the emergency: the Christmas period will be crucial and, on the other hand, the rapid changes in the way people read and buy impose new challenges for the entire publishing industry."
The results of the survey were published during Più Libri, PiùLiberi, the annual Italian trade show for small and medium sized publishers typically held in Rome each December, but hosted virtually this year.