Bookcity Milano 2018

The publishing industry starts to grow again

Paolo Besio Paolo Besio

The publishing industry underwent major changes in the last few years. Although the economic crisis did not spare the sector, which is not back on pre-crisis levels yet, players are now recording encouraging results, thanks also to the diffusion of digital products and systems, which could end the long-term downturn.

According to an analysis (PDF) [681 kb] by the Chamber of Commerce of Milan, Monza-Brianza and Lodi, the publishing companies and the number of their employees are growing.

The media, publishing, television and video industry currently includes 63,000 companies in Italy with 197,000 people and a national turnover of 28 billion Euro.

The highest presence is in Rome and Milan, with 6,000 and 5,000 companies respectively, followed by Naples and Turin (3,000) and other main cities, Bari, Florence, Salerno, Bologna, Catania, Palermo and Genoa, with over 1,000 companies.

The same holds true for the people working in the industry: 25% is located in Lombardy, followed by Lazio (20%), Veneto (9%), Emilia Romagna (8%) and Piedmont (6%).

It is worth analysing the data in detail to understand the breakdown of companies in the various subindustries: the highest number of companies operate in the sector of printing and reproduction of recorded media, followed by publishing activities, trade of books, newspapers, music and video recordings, programming and broadcasting activities, news agencies and retailers of music and video records.

The scenario emerging from the figures above is a positive one: technology has a major impact on the services offered and companies are facing the web giants, but print media maintain their charm and sales trends are good. In 2017 the Italian publishing companies published 72,059 new books, a +9.2% increase with respect to 2016.

According to a research carried out by the Italian Publishers Association, notwithstanding the number of new books published, the problem of the slow growth of the industry lies in the low number of books read: Italy is among the European and western countries where people read the least.

In short, more books are sold to a decreasing number of readers. The challenge for the future is to acquire new readers, considering that they mostly belong to the digital generation.

As for other industries, the introduction of incentives might help to increase sales.

For part of the companies, the tax credit for investments in advertising introduced by Law Decree n. 50/2017 could help to strengthen the recovery. The tax credit is granted on investments in advertising campaigns on newspapers and magazines, also online, and on local televisions and radios, both analogical or digital, made starting from 1 January 2018.

For further information, please contact Paolo Besio.