They had declared it during the lockdown, but many thought it was a sailor’s promise and that, after the forced quarantine was over, they would forget the books. Instead, the Italians did not lie, they continued to read even after isolation. And to say this time are the numbers that emerged from a research by the Research Office of the Italian Publishers Association (IEA) on the basis of Nielsen and Ie data – Editorial Information, which examines the Italian publishing market from the beginning of 2020 until the first weeks of July.
The first interesting figure is that relating to the loss of turnover which drops to -11% compared to the -20% of 20 April. According to this survey, in fact, on 11 July, the book market in trade channels – i.e. bookstores, digital stores, large retailers – is worth 533 million euros, down 11% compared to 600 million in the same period of 2019. A data very encouraging which should also bode well for the economy of the whole country.
Let’s try to understand these numbers better. As of April 18, the cumulative loss for the year was 20%. But since mid-June the Italians have returned to buy in library and large retailers as they used to do before forced closings, while online purchases increased compared to 2019, thus allowing a first recovery of the shares lost in the previous months.
Even if it is a partial fact because it does not understand Amazon, the bookstores and online stores that are part of the circuit Arianna, an integrated system of communication and remote ordering services aimed at all operators in the world of books, after having recorded a negative peak of -70% in weekly sales between March and April, from mid-June they returned to sell approximately as much as the previous year, with a peak of + 2.5% in the week that ended on July 19th.
And if you could add Amazon’s punctual week-by-week data, the numbers could be surprising. Unfortunately, they point out in IEA, it is not possible; in any case the result of the last month would be clearly positive.
The return of readers to physical channels emerges well from the numbers. In fact, on 11 July, sales in bookstores and large retailers recover market share compared to April 18, going from 52% to 56%, while online stores drop from 48% to 44%. In 2019 in the same period, bookshops and large retailers they represented 70% and online stores 30%.
The analysis of these data also says that the e-book continue to grow, although the data is not accurate because Amazon has its mouth sewn on sales. We have certainly understood that readers have learned to appreciate the comfort of online purchase in both paper and digital versions. But we also saw that the bookstores that managed to provide a service during the forced shutdown continued to sell.
What will happen in the coming months? The lockdown has it accelerated a process of strengthening online channels or, on the contrary, do readers wish to return to the relationship with the trusted bookseller?
I personally hope that anyone who has discovered the pleasure of reading continue to enjoy it, for many years I try to spread the love for books and I don’t care if they are e-books or paper. I also hope that coronavirus can be the push for a good one reflection on the publishing sector and, perhaps, for some changes before it is too late.