“Reading is a national emergency.” This is said by the president of the Italian Publishers Association (AIE), Ricardo Franco Levi. At the Book Fair he explained how the gap has deepened, as have other inequalities during the pandemic. Geographical, personal, gender and income differences weigh on reading even more than in the past.
The data show how there are fewer and fewer readers, even if they are more loyal. It is an increasingly divided Italy that emerges from the research on reading of the Center for book and reading (Cepell) and Aie that was presented today at the Salone.
The Italians who read today are 56% (people between 15 and 75 who have read at least one book, even if only partially, including manuals, ebooks and audio books in the last year) but those who read do so more than before. The differences are mainly geographical. In the North, readers in three years went from 63% (2019), to 60% (2020) and then to 59% (2021), similar values to the Center (61% in 2019, 57% in 2020, 56% in 2021) ), but in the South the situation is quite serious. In the South, it went from 41% in 2019 to 40% in 2020 and 35% in 2021. The North-South gap has widened from 22 percentage points to 24.
In addition, low-educated readers today are 36%, down 14 percentage points in two years, while readers with degrees are 84%, down 7 points. Instead, the differential between men and women remains intact: both read less than before: 60% of women are readers, 52% of men are readers.
The result is an increasingly concentrated market: 59% of copies sold are bought by 23% of readers (those who read more than 7 copies a year). “You can look at these data from a double perspective, in addition to the decline in readers, there is a worrying polarization that is increasingly clear between those who have always read and between those who do not even come close to reading”.