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With mounting concerns in Europe over spikes in Covid-19 and their effect on borders and quarantine, the book industries in France and Italy have reported some cautiously positive news. In France, the French booksellers association, the Syndicat de la Librarie Francaise, said sales at independent booksellers were up by 29% for the period 12 May to 12 July compared to a year ago. However, the overall picture is still gloomy. The SLF say that taking the wider period, from 1 January to 12 July, sales at bookshops are down by 14%.
In Italy, the Italian Publishers Association (AIE) said that its year-on-year revenue losses have halved, from minus 20% in April to minus 11% in July. “The data we present today shows encouraging signs of an upturn,” said AIE president Ricardo Franco Levi. “The book market reveals a path to recovery for the entire Italian economy.”
The explanation given by the AIE for the modest comeback is that, since mid-June, Italians have gone back to buying as much as last year in physical bookshops which went from claiming 52% of sales in April to 56% in July, while the market share of online stores slid from 48% to 44% during the same period. The body said: “The next few months will reveal whether bookstores and large-scale distribution will continue to recover, or if the period of closure has accelerated a reinforcement process of online channels that has been underway for years now.”
In France, the French Publishers Association has revised its estimate of losses for the year, from 30% to 15%, in part thanks to the €230m the government has allocated to the sector. The organisation also believes French people have enjoyed a new interested in reading during the crisis.