In 2017 about 85% of the 1,459 active publishers published no more than 50 titles per year; more than half (54.0%) were “small” publishers, producing at most 10 works per year, and 30.9% were “medium” publishers, producing from 11 to 50 works per year (Table 1). On the contrary, the “big” publishers, i.e. those with a book production of more than 50 works per year, although representing only 15.1% of the publishing operators, covered more than 80% of production as regards the titles and about 90% with reference to the number of printed copies.
The Italian publishing sector was strongly polarized also from a geographical point of view: over 50% of active publishers was based in Northern Italy. The cities with the largest number of publishers were Milano and Roma. The city of Milano alone hosted more than a quarter of the “big” publishers.
In 2017, the 1,459 active publishers published 70,159 titles and printed more than 161 million of copies; on average, just over 2,000 copies were printed for each published title.
In 2017 the publishing sector showed a high increase in publishing production: compared to the previous year, the number of titles increased by 9.3% and the number of printed copies increased by 14.5%.
In 2017, 38.3% of the books published in Italy (about 27,000 titles) were also offered to the public in the e-book format. E-books were mainly available for adventure books and mystery books (for which e-books reach 83.2% of printed works). The digital version was available for more than 70% for the school books.
As regards the distribution tools, determining factor in the publishing sector, publishers considered the role of independent libraries to be strategic in intercepting the audience of actual and potential readers.
In 2017 almost a quarter of respondents (24.7%) were part of an association of publishers. The main reason for joining a publishers’ association was the possibility of being informed and updated on the regulatory and commercial news of the sector.
For about 40% of publishers the main factors that determined the modest propensity to reading in our country were the low cultural level of the Italian population (42.6%) and the lack of effective educational policies for reading education (38.4%).
To encourage the development of the publishing sector, about 40% of active operators identified the need to increase readership initiatives and campaigns aimed to improve reading education.