The book and the charm of Italian villages

Deadline: 30/09/2019 20:00:00 CET
The logistic difficulties of distribution, the high transport costs, the fierce of digital distribution competitor, the renewed and increasingly decisive role of public libraries and independent bookstores, show how cities and territories are the real main characters of book’s future . The readers’ decline and growing difficulties in the publishing market are leading independent publishers to think about an innovative distribution of the books. The opening of new channels in favour of quality publishing products can pass through innovative ideas as using the book as a flywheel, and enhances the potential of small Italian villages and of the neighbouring landscape and artistic beauties. It generates an advantage for independent publishing and tourism.


The book can no longer "live" only on bookshelves and at trade shows. The paper book needs to "get out" of the common spaces, find new distribution channels and be established as the core for which the initiatives are able to arise emotions and attract a new audience. The need to open up new markets to the publishing industry is clear, especially the independent one that increasingly face the widespread distribution of the "big publishers".
On the other hand, according to a recent study of Legambiente, the heir of small Italian villages is the 72% of over 8,000 municipalities with less than 5,000 inhabitants. These municipalities cover 55% of the national territory and more than ten million people are living there. Historically, the small villages have always been in charge of the environmental and artistic heritage, and embody local culture and traditions. However, the villages suffer in general a growing unemployment, insufficient commercial activity and tourism that is not yet well developed. For this fact, the opening of new channels in favour of independent publishing’s quality product could leverage the potential of Italian villages and neighbouring naturalistic, artistic and historical beauties. In this context, the book could find "new life" acting as a fly-wheel in an innovative relationship of mutual advantage between independent publishers and villages.


According to the National Statistics Institute (Istat), concerning the publishing offer in Italy, in 2016, over 86% of more than 1,500 active publishers published no more than 50 books per year. 54.8% are "small publishers" publishing around 10 books in a year, while 31.6% are "medium publishers", publishing from 11 to 50 books annually. The "large publishers", with a production of more than 50 books per year, have 13.6% of the active operators in this sector and publish more than 70% of books on the market, with almost 86% of the printed copies.
As far as concerned the demand, according to ISTAT, the Italian readers are constantly decreasing. In fact, readers have decreased from 42.0% of the population (people over 6 years) in 2015 to 40.5% in 2016. About 23 million people state to have read at least one book in the 12 months before the interview for reasons that are not strictly academic or experts. Faced with this situation, independent bookstores and online stores are considered by the publishers as the distribution channels on which focus the increase of the demand and the readership. Recent data show that digital market is keep rising. In fact, more than one book out of three (about 22 thousand) is also available in e-book format, a percentage that rises to 53.3% for textbooks.


Experts figures and innovative ideas are required to be able to encourage the spread of printed book and at the same time support independent publishers and tourism entrepreneurs to adopt book as a way to enhance the tourist offer of Italian villages. Innovative solutions should trace experiential ways that, built around the book, lead to discover the village and the surrounding naturalistic, historical and artistic beauties. The reader-tourist would thus be launched into the dimension where are set the events narrated in the book. In this context, the reader would benefit from experiences and "additional content" to be developed in an innovative and appealing way on a commercial level. Starting from the book-village combination, the solutions can have as object, for example, theatre and musical performances, naturalistic excursions, interactive museum visits, readings and itinerant re-enactments in historical places and creative cooking events.