*President del Children Publishers Group of the Italian Publisher Association, President of Edizioni Sonda
Children's publishing in Italy has grown and profoundly changed over the last decade.
Now representing 14% of sales in trade channels, the sector has seen a profound renewal of its production, with exploration of new genres, age bands, publishing formats and narrative forms. Today children and young people have a supply of titles available which is considerably larger than the early 1990s (from 0.14 titles per 1,000 children to 0.45 today). The supply is provided to a significant extent (about 42%) by small and medium-size publishing houses which are independent (i.e. not belonging to publishing groups) and which frequently explore innovative genres and techniques, discovering and promoting new authors and illustrators.
Most important of all, it is a sector which has given itself international visibility over the last decade. Today publishers for Italian children sell more titles abroad than they buy.
The Italian book market for children is still one with vast areas of shadow that publishing firms have to contend with: low reading rates among the child population; the absence of institutional policies to encourage reading; a network of public libraries with inadequate resources; scarcity of school libraries. Nevertheless, between the 1990s and the last decade, the sector achieved a steady growth (+2-3%) which is higher than the average for publishing as a whole.
We have certainly not arrived at a finishing line, but rather a new starting point. Ahead of us - in addition to the old problems regarding reading - we find new publishing challenges that the «digital generation» is posing for our industry: new forms of language, genres, stories, images and graphics. In Italy, as in other countries, there is also a process of internationalisation of the sector. This is a terrain in which we need to find new space and new means of collaboration, for which this special edition could perhaps represent a first opportunity.
Some numbers of the children market in Italy:
Titles published (2010)
New books published (2010)
Copies printed and distributed (2010)
Readers (6-17 years; 2011)
3,874,000 (56.9% of 6-17-year-olds)
Market 2011 (at cover prices)
202.2 million euro
E-book titles (2011)
1,182 (ePub + Pdf)
Exchange rate euro/pound sterling
1 € = 0.84 £ (February 2012)