“The author writes a story. The publisher turns it into a book». «With a book you change a man. With a man you change society. History changes with society.” These two maxims frame the lively debate that animated the first meeting on Thursday at Villa Tornaforte-Aragno in Cuneo on the new format of the Humanities forum conceived by Nino Aragno: «Behind the Quarte» (cover).
The first sentence was said by the guest, Ricardo Franco Levi. The second, the landlord. Nino Aragno invited to participate in the meeting on «Publishing and civil society», a parterre of protagonists of the Turin and Cuneo cultural scene, with the ambition and objective of soliciting discussion around the «civic» role of publishing. In the room with armchairs arranged “like a living room”, conducive to conversation, sat, among others, Ugo Rosenberg of Rosenberg and Sellier, Walter Martiny of Edizioni Capricorno, Carla Capetta of Kaplan, Gregorio Pellegrino of Effata, Mimmo Fogola, Giovanni Hoepli, Valerio Maccagno for the periodical press. There are also many writers and cultural operators.
The president of the Italian Publishers Association and the European Publishers Federation and the vice president of the small publishers association, Lorenzo Armando, publisher of Celid, showed the tip of a submerged iceberg, unknown to most. Ricardo Franco Levi opened the dialogue with an impressive figure: the publishing industry, with a turnover of 3 and a half billion, is the largest cultural industry in the country. Publishing reaches its goal without public aid – explained Levi – and brings Italy to first position, with fashion, in Europe. And since in Europe there are 6 of the major publishing groups in the world (one is in the States), it means that Italian publishing is among the first in the world. Confirming this role, Italy will be a guest country at the Paris International Book Fair and also at the most prestigious of all: the Frankfurt Fair.
«Where – adds Aragno – the stand will be designed by architect Stefano Boeri, with a view to presenting a complete image of Italian authority in the cultural field». While on the one hand the made in Italy book is a winner, there are problems at home: starting with raising new generations of readers. Hence widespread campaigns at school level such as “I read because” spread throughout the country, which also had a great response in the Cuneo area (invites to donate books to school libraries), and “Born to read”..
Another initiative that Levi praised was the 500 euros that the state gave to eighteen-year-olds for cultural expenses. Most – he added – was used to purchase books. The pandemic has boosted the market. Also because during the lockdown with a virtuous institutional choice, the bookstores remained open: “a model behavior in Europe”, remarked the guest.CopyAMP code
Levi’s positive and encouraging fresco, who declared himself optimistic about the future of books, has prompted many questions, primarily those of small local publishers who – on the one hand – can count on loyal readers because, as Fabrizio Dutto of Araba said Fenice «we all have a grandfather who made the Russian Campaign here» – on the other hand they are less robust to support the increase in costs of paper, energy and distribution, and find less space than the big publishers on bookshop shelves . Solution? The big data of reading. «The most promising field is data management – concluded Levi -, having an understanding similar to that of Amazon to know everything or almost everything about the choices of readers. It is the way to strengthen the relationship between publisher and bookseller».