Il blog di Antonio Tombolini

Ebook sales in Italy: Big Guys vs Italians; is there a problem here, or is it just me?


Preliminary remarks

  • The data I’m talking about concerns STEALTH, the Simplicissimus Book Farm distribution platform that aggregates and distributes 37% of the books available on the market (more than one third).
  • The observations that I make are all based on a generalization which, in my opinion, is very realistic even though it can’t be demonstrated: in fact, I don’t have access to data regarding other distribution platforms (allow me to launch an appeal that will hopefully be heard: maybe it would be better if we share this data with each other, instead of paying for unrealistic incorrect estimates from so-called specialists who don’t have access to first-hand data like us…), and there’s always the chance (although highly unlikely, in my view) that their trends are completely different than those of STEALTH.

Some facts

  • Over the last year (data as of April 29th), the sales of ebooks distributed by STEALTH have grown by 400% in quantity (number of ebooks) and 250% in value (the average price has fallen).
  • If, however, we exclude the sales made through the stores of the Big Guys (Amazon, Apple, Google, Kobo, Barnes & Noble), the growth is “only” 82% in quantity and 50% in value.


  • Am I wrong to say that Italian ebook retailers (and not just the so-called independents at Ultima Books or Bookrepublic, but also those dependent on large groups, like Media World, IBS, Feltrinelli) have a big problem?
  • Am I wrong to say that in a situation where ebooks are naturally bought more frequently in the particular store the user finds already pre-installed on his new ebook reader, smartphone or tablet, the problem cannot be overcome, and the market will become increasingly carved up between the Big Guys (which already have 80% of the market today)?
  • Lastly and more importantly, am I wrong when I say that this indicates the need (and opportunity) to creatively find new paths and new channels for the promotion of ebooks, which are definitely not those of a foolish, and even a bit ridiculous, competition against the Big Guys? In other words: Are we really certain that an ebook must/can be bought only in a dedicated ebook store?

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Il blog di Antonio Tombolini