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Words, A Novel, and Growing, Italian Export

Andrea Camilleri montalbano dagger award

It’s true, Italy is exporting more words than ever before, despite the nation’s publishing industry being in deep trouble.

Between 2001 and 2011, Italy’s exports of the rights to literary works rose from 1,800 to over 4,600 according to a rather interesting overview, in Italian, of the state of Italy’s publishing industry which appeared recently on Linkesta, and online Italian newspaper.

While Italians are not the world’s greatest readers, readers from abroad do tend to like what Italian authors write. UK based niche publisher of crime stories by Italian writers, Hersilla Press, knows something about this, I am sure.

The success of the Inspector Montalbano Italian crime series, which is based on books by Andrea Camilleri will also be helping generate interest in Italian literature. Indeed, one of Camilleri’s books received a Dagger Award for crime literature and other Italian writers received high praise.

Andrea Camilleri won a dagger for one of his Montalbano tales
Andrea Camilleri won a dagger for one of his Montalbano tales

As well as crime fiction, children’s books by Italian authors are proving popular for overseas readers.

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The popularity of books by Italian writers has led to an increase in Digital sales as well, no doubt boosted by the ease of use of tablets such as the iPad and dedicated eReaders like the Amazon Kindle which allow us all to carry virtual libraries around without breaking our backs. Digital books also keep trees safe.

I know, having spoken to a few Italians, that Italy’s publishing industry is not overly friendly to Italian authors. Royalties tend to lie somewhere between low and derisory and writers are often asked to fund the printing of their books.

However, a well translated story by an Italian writer may well appeal to non-Italians, or that’s what the figures tend to suggest. This means Italian writers should be sending their works to publishers like Hersilla Press who are quite happy to arrange translation – if they consider the book will appeal to readers.

Their does not seem to be any need for Italian writers to adapt their style to international tastes either. This is good news for such writers and is good news for this novel, if you’ll excuse the pun, Italian export sector.

Write on, Italian writers!

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