The Italian e-book market has just celebrated its second birthday. In 2011 it was worth a total of 3.7 million euro. It represents little more than 0.2% of sales, at cover prices, in trade channels (chain bookstores, independents, large retailers, online bookstores) although it has more than doubled since 2010 (when it was 1.5 million euro).
The children's segment within it remains difficult to measure. However, what we can begin to see is the growth in the supply that publishing houses are offering to online stores selling e-books. It is a sign of interest in this sector where the ability to use mobile information technology is present from the earliest age among the digital generation and reading on screens goes hand in hand with reading on the page.
In January 2010 there were 420 titles in e-book format (ePub + PDF) for children. By June 2011 this had already become 673. Today (February 2012) it stands at 1,182, excluding fiction genres aimed at young adults (especially fantasy, science fiction and horror).
We could add to these almost 1,200 e-book titles no less than 920 apps that youngsters can download onto their smartphones (February 2012). This is not publishing, strictly speaking, a distinction always difficult to make with iTunes filters.
These almost 1,200 titles now make up the «children and young people» e-book catalogue published by 82 publishing houses, 42% of the publishers active in the children/young people segment. The Gruppo Giunti (with Giunti, Editoriale Scienza and Dami imprints) covers about 30% of this supply, followed by Salani (Gruppo GeMs) with 12% and Piemme (Mondadori group) with 11%. The latter group as a whole, through all its various imprints (Mondadori, Sperling, Piemme), represents 18% of the current supply.
The e-book is not the only vehicle on the road towards digital in children's publishing. «Nowadays you can't think about creating a reference work for children without having an electronic version, especially considering that schools are demanding ever more digital content», explains Biancamaria Gismondi of Mondadori Education. For example, «the Devoto-Oli Junior, like all the Mondadori Education dictionaries under the Le Monnier label, has a multi-platform DVD-Rom (for Windows, Mac and Linux), usable with the interactive multimedia whiteboard, and has audio files with the correct pronunciation of all headwords».