“Small presses? The fundamental and vibrant base of our industry.” Cipolletta speaks in his first interview with Giornale della Libreria

A perceptive medium capable of bringing to public attention the problems, certainly, but also the opportunities that lie ahead for the publishing world. A world that is “not opposed to innovation; on the contrary, it has always valued it as an element of cultural, social and economic growth.” This is today, and will increasingly be in the future, of the Giornale della Libreria according to Innocenzo Cipolletta, the new director of the Association of Italian Publishers (AIE)  since last September. In addition, Cippoletta took over the editorship of this publication founded in 1888. Today it is a website with a print periodical, but also newsletters, features, video content and social content. In the following interview, Cipolletta talks about his vision for the Giornale dellla Libreria, starting with the December issue, due out for the Più libri più liberi (PLPL) book show in Rome.

The December 2023 issue is the first one in which you are editor-in-chief. The last issue of the year traditionally speaks to the publishing industry in general and small and medium-sized presses in particular. What can the Giornale della Libreria do for the latter?

Small presses are a fundamental base of the publishing world and a vibrant component of this sector, because they explore new publishing segments, often identifying particular niches in the market, thus acting as the vanguard of an evolution that affects everyone. In this sense, the Giornale della Libreria seeks and will increasingly seek to make them visible. On the other hand, showcasing how they work and their proposals is useful to all publishing professionals in learning about trends, development models, and new entrepreneurial adventures.
Publishing today – in the promotion of titles but more generally in the process by which publishers present themselves to readers – works a lot on word-of-mouth: an informed and knowledgeable word-of-mouth that we want to be a part of. Trade shows and book fairs, our Più libri più liberi (PLPL) in particular, are another great tool for visibility: this is also why my adventure as editor in chief starts here, with a greeting and a desire for the success of  small and medium publishers, a relevant and strategic segment of our industry.

The Giornale della Libreria was founded in 1888 and has been pursuing the goal of informing the entire book industry ever since. In 135 years it has obviously changed its appearance and format over and over again, however, it has basically kept its mission unchanged. What is it like, what is it for, who does it speak to today?

First of all, I think it is the new editor’s job to continue the activities that have been carried out so far, because this publication has interpreted its function well so far, and what I have to do is not to transform it, but simply to carry it on and keep it abreast to the needs of the times.
The Giornale della Libreria is adept at identifying the issues that are emerging in publishing. These certainly include innovation, which has entered our professional world in a very strong way as it has entered our daily lives: each of us now lives with a cell phone as if it were our favorite organ.
Certainly the digital revolution does not stop here, it is invading not only the field of distribution, the market for cultural products, but also and especially that of the production and supply of cultural products. I am referring not only to platforms and the use of social media, which are also tools for promotion, but especially to Artificial Intelligence, which is a very powerful tool for the future. It is for everyone and especially for developing countries, because it can be used to accelerate the transfer of large amounts of ideas and knowledge by making the whole world leap forward.

Publishing is not opposed to innovation; on the contrary, it has always valued it as an element of cultural, social and economic growth. There will be, already are, transformations, but it is important to govern them so as not to nullify existing concepts. We are sure that future benefits will be great, and shared, and that is why we want to protect the authorship landscape with intelligent regulation that preserves copyright. It’s true for books, but I think it’s the same for those who create music, theater, film, or even sports: only the protection of these rights can guarantee the existence of future creativity. And it also applies to innovators themselves, because innovating in a desert would serve no one.

In short, your role as editor-in-chief of the Giornale della Libreria is inevitably intertwined with your role as AIE president…

This is not by accident. The magazine belongs to the Association and in some ways is also its spokesperson: in this sense there is a mutual interest. The AIE is the association of publishers small, large, medium and from all sectors: from scholastic to fiction, non-fiction, professional, university, through comics, children’s and young people’s books and much more. As AIE, we want the country’s demand for culture to grow because this increases the demand for books, but also because cultural growth cooperates with social, economic, and human development. The Giornale della Libreria is one of the tools we use in this regard.

With respect to this virtuous cycle created by AIE, what I want to bring with my presidency is some attention to the industrial aspects, because while we work with products of culture and with actors of culture, we are also industrial actors with their own unique characteristics : from production costs to issues of logistics, to the fight against piracy. Which is why I wanted to introduce a couple of new proxies within the AIE President’s Committee, which concern innovation on the one hand, because I think it is important for us to follow both regulatory developments and technological transformations that impact our world. On the other hand, the Mezzogiorno, because I think it is not fair or appropriate that in one part of the country the cultural infrastructure is weaker, the schooling lower, the reading rate so low. It is certainly not publishers alone who can change things, but schools, for example, can do a lot. We who are next door, contiguous and complementary with our books want to do our part.

For further reading: Alessandra Rotondo for www.giornaledellalibreria.it/news

Photo: Innocenzo Cipolletta, president of AIE / imille.com