As new Covid-19 restrictions enact,
in Italy books are essential goods

By Adam Smulevich
“It is a significant sign in the short and long term”, said Ricardo Franco Levi, president of the Italian Publishers Association AIE since 2017. A piece of news – he really hoped for – has been made official recently: even in the regions with the highest risk of contagion, those classified as red zones, bookstores will remain open along with all other “essential” services. This is a firm change of course compared to last spring lockdown restrictions which were then modified along the way in April. Books’ essentiality was immediately affirmed this time.
“There are various satisfying elements,” says Levi to Pagine Ebraiche, “Indeed, we know the great impact the final part of the year has on the economy of this field. A book can ease loneliness and worry, especially in such a complex period. I believe that at least another aspect is really worth pointing out: this government’s political decision means being more successful in terms of civilization”.
It is a historic turning point because Italy has always had a difficult relationship with books. Levi, who has also been vice-president of the Federation of European Publishers for a few weeks, had the opportunity to discuss the issue with several colleagues: “We commented on how, for the first time, Italy represents a model, an example. Actually, this is not the only aspect we are positively distinguishing ourselves for”. The AIE’s president mentions, for example, measures to support libraries. We hope all this will also remain anchored in the post-COVID-19 organization and public awareness. “Institutions are working efficiently, at all levels. Discussions in the last few months have been very fruitful”. he comments, “And these decisions are the outcome of them”.
The Italian Publishers Association is also playing a role by creating some important awareness-raising campaigns. An example is the campaign – promoted in coordination with the Italian Booksellers Association ALI – which encourages “not to wait until the last moment” for the purchase of books intended as gifts for yourself or for someone else during the holidays. Another example is the campaign that aims to enrich the book heritage of school libraries by involving all Italian families.

Translated by Antonella Losavio, student at the Advanced School for Interpreters and Translators of Trieste University, intern at the newspaper office of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities.