Riccardo Fedriga

The Italian book publishing industry in the years 2005-2015

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Publishing; Cultural Heritage; Reading's Epistemology; Digital Printing; Digital Humanities; Books and E-Books; Intellectual Property; Big Data

This paper focuses on the contemporary Italian publishing market over the last ten years. Beginning by examining the book-publishing industry, the analysis extends to the wider area of digital devices. It also matches the statistical picture of a traditional and small market (only 41.4% of the Italian population reads at least one book per year for entertainment purposes) with the revolution started by the regular and acknowledged use of technology by the digital humanities (e.g. the digital reading revolution, the hybrid between books and three-dimensional digital objects in education, the digital rights market, and the problems of intellectual property). Five years into the widespread availability of e-books, digital reading in Italy appears to be an ever-increasing habit, although the electronic segment still amounts to only 8% of the national book market. In fact, compared to other areas, Italian publishers seem rather slow at moving towards an industry that is increasingly rooted and grounded in the digital revolution. This is the result of a common lack of formation and research (almost nine in ten Italian publishing houses are medium or small-sized) and of the persistence of traditional ways of imagining and structuring the supply chain. Nevertheless there are a few exceptions, represented by those who view digital devices not merely as every other product to sell, but as a challenge for conceiving and creating innovative products. It is possible to observe a shift of workflow models from vertical to horizontal - and sometimes to rhizomatic shapes more typical of the videogame cultural industry (e.g. editor regarded as producer) - as well as the emerging process of global acquisitions and strategic mergers, and finally the orientation and interpretation of big data, intended as a shared ontology which crosses over between the areas of cultural content and heritage. In the current coexistence of traditional and digital publishing - a hybrid model that has the upside of being non-ideological and more adherent to the actual state of the book market - the Italian Publishers Association applauds European strategies that aim at a common digital market, ultimately acknowledging the full convergence and integration of the book system within a wider landscape of cultural industries.

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