World Book and Copyright Day it is an anniversary established by UNESCO and celebrated, for the first time, on April 23, 1996. The objective of the initiative is “promote continued progress through reading and education.

In addition to celebrating Book Day, UNESCO has designated the World Book Capital every year since 2001. Applications are open to all cities in the world located on the territory of UNESCO member or associate member countries. Becoming the world book capital means having projects linked to cultural promotion with a constructive objective. This year it will be the world book capital Strasbourg.

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Why April 23 to celebrate Book Day?

April 23 is not a day chosen by chance: on this very day authors of global importance and prestige such as William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes and Garcilaso de la Vega died. Barcelona was the pioneer city of this festival: from 1900, for the birthday of San Giorgio, the Catalan patron saint, the lovers exchanged a book and a red rose – symbols of faith and the blood of the dragon slain by the saint – this is why World Book Day is also called Book and Rose Day.

The number of Italian readers

What is happening in Italy? Le Bel Paese strives to promote reading and book exchange, by leading initiatives in bookstores and libraries to involve all citizens, especially the youngest. Let's talk numbers: what do Italians read? The Italian Publishers Association (AIE) presented the 2023-2024 survey report.

  • 74% of individuals, aged 15 to 74, have read at least one book, a ebooks or listened to an audiobook in the previous 12 months. We are therefore talking about 32.8 million people.
  • Comic book readers are among the most avid: they represent 21% of the population and read more often than other types of readers. 35% of comic book readers read every day.
  • Compared to the 2022-2023 report, the percentage of those who read at least once a week has decreased (72% of readers in 2022, 67% in 2023) but the percentage of those who read at least once a year has increased (8% in 2022-2023, 13% in 2023-2024).
  • 3% of the population does not read any type of book (classic, electronic or digital).

Furthermore, the latest edition of Children's Book Fairwhich was held in Bologna in the first half of April 2024, was an opportunity to summarize the performance of the “children and young people” market segment. The market volume increased by 2.1% in one year. The comics niche is also growing, reaching sales volumes of 17.8 million euros.

Initiatives for Book Day 2024

How to promote books in Italy? The most relevant initiative is called May books and this year it is in its fourteenth edition. This is a campaign managed by the Center for Books and Reading and sponsored by the Ministry of Culture. The objective of the initiative is to promote reading, through the creation of a database of events. The theme of the 2024 edition of Book Day is “Set lis ti lib(e)ri”: culture helps to open the mind and free oneself from stereotypes. It develops around three axes: “Free(s) to know”, “Free(s) to dream” and “Free(s) to create”.“. The campaign will be active from April 23 to May 31.

From 2020, upon proposal from the Ministry of Culture and subsequent ratification by the Council of Ministers, the title of Italian Book Capital will be awarded to an Italian city. In 2024, the Italian Book Capital will be Taurianova, in the province of Reggio Calabria. For the occasion, the municipal council proposed the renovation of the municipal library and numerous activities.

Also in May we remind you of the Ronchi dei Legionari Journalism Festival, dedicated not only to professionals. We include it among the events not to be missed, as great attention will be paid to the topic of copyright., increasingly relevant for today's journalists. The 2024 edition will be held in the Friulian commune from June 11 to 16, with a preview between May 24 and June 1. Objective of festival is to give voice and reward young precarious journalists: the world of the press has always contributed to the dissemination of reading and culture.

All you have to do is choose your event and offer a good book, to perpetuate this essential tradition.

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