Tuesday 30 August 2011

No More Discounts!

Don't worry – our successful promotion continues.

What I'm referring to is a law that has just been approved in Italy, which makes it illegal (except for art books, second-hand and antiquarian books and remaindered stock) to discount books, both in bookshops and online, more than 15%. The only exception is in-store special promotions, where the discount can go up to 25%. Now imagine if this were to happen in the UK . . . There would be more violent riots than the ones we had earlier in the month.

Another interesting piece of statistics from the Repubblica article where I found out about this: according to a recent research only 46.8% of Italians over the age of 6 have read at least one book (not for work or for study) over a period of six months. Grim. Try to be a publisher in the Bel Paese!

At the end of the article there's a slightly misleading report, showing that Italian bestsellers are sold at an average of 16.1 euros, the second highest average after Ireland, and well above United States (11.1), Germany (13.6), England (14) and France (14.4). I say it's misleading because Italy is a totally different market, with very few hardback non-fiction bestsellers (such as cookery books or celebrity memoirs). It would have been much more interesting to compare paperbacks with paperbacks. You'd have then seen a double digit figure for Italy and something like 3.5 for UK.

Whichever way you look at it, whether you are an Italian or an English publisher, the only thing you can do is to find comfort in the final words of Gogol's How the Two Ivans Quarrelled: "It is dreary in this world, gentlemen!"


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