“There are beautiful novels in between, often published by small and medium-sized publishers. Our mission is to find them, using bookstores, and send them home to you ».
This is what it looked like about a year ago Romanzi.ita project that at the time was just born from the idea of four far-sighted people who are passionate about publishing and with very different experiences in this sector: Massimo Cuomoauthor, entrepreneur and consultant; Nicola Piccolicommunications expert and book blogger; Laura Prestotto, graphic designer and website developer, as well as organizer of reading groups; and Enrico Drigographic designer and illustrator who is passionate about comics.
The group’s great intuition was to focus on a format that was still unexplored in the Italian publishing landscape: to sell monographic boxes, published every two months, each dedicated to a small publishing house, and to suggest novels that have already been published, but which in their durability had not achieved the success they deserved.
A year has passed since then, their audience has multiplied, and six boxes have come out. The latest, which concerns the L’Orma publishing house, was sent just a few days ago. It is therefore time to take stock of this first year of activity, also because when I had the opportunity to interview one of the founders, there were still no boxes to show off, while there is now plenty of material.
The six boxes released so far
• Keller Publisher
• NN Forlag
• Editions of Atlantide
• E / O Editions
• Utopia Editore
• L’orma publishing house
The next one will be dedicated to SUR Edizioni and can be booked until the end of June.
What’s inside the box?
• There are two or three novels from an independent publisher (you choose the number when buying).
• There is a literary magazine with an issue that can be considered a “best of” of the published content. The magazines are selected with the help of an expert, Michele Crescenzo, who tries to “connect” editor and magazine to create a kind of logical thread.
• There is a poster magazine called Blurb. It was created ad hoc by Romanzi.it and is dedicated to the publisher who is the main character in the box. It is made with material sent by the publisher, but there are also interviews and trivia.
• The bookmarks have also arrived from the third box.
Box n.1, by Keller Editore
The choice of publisher and the selection of books
Romanzi.it collaborates with a number of independent bookstores spread across the country (and further: there is also one in Vienna). They are the ones who recommend the most interesting publishers and hence the books that deserve to end up in the boxes: no bestsellers but – as already mentioned – small “hidden” gems that in their first publishing life did not. have the opportunity to express their actual potential in terms of sales.
That way, a title gets an effective second life, and above all, the risk that readers already have it is less.
Among all the suggested books, three are selected, then we discuss with the publisher, first of all, to understand whether the selected ones are actually available and accessible.
Buyers can then choose between two different options: a box with two novels or a box with three. For those who do not like surprises too much, Romanzi.it had the idea to introduce a feature that allows you to take a look at the titles. They called her kig and you can find it in your personal area when you subscribe to the service.
Box 2, by NN Editore
For independent publishers, Romanzi.it was a gift from God
After the first boxes came out, requests from small publishers actually exploded.
“At the recently concluded book fair, a lot of people came to meet us at our stand,” says Enrico Drigo, responsible for all the graphics in the boxes.
From the editorial point of view, this project is, after all, a true shot at the trunk. In one fell swoop, an order of a few hundred copies arrives, already sold, without return and above all paid for immediately. These are not small things in the publishing market filled with distortions, where neither booksellers nor publishers have the knife on the shaft side, but rather those who distribute (here it is well explained how Italian publishing works).
Among other things, for the publisher, being in the box also means free advertising.
Box 3, by Edizioni di Atlantide
Previously, I listed the contents of the box, but an important part is also the box itself.
As with books – where the “dress”, ie the cover, is essential to capture attention and push sales – so it is with the box. Those who do not already know the publisher are attracted to graphics.
Each box attempts to reflect the identity of the publisher to which it is dedicated. Working on it is Enrico Drigo, who says: “I make a file on InDesign, where I throw everything I recycle from the publisher and its books: first the material that the publisher sends itself, and then the editorial graphics and graphics , which the publisher uses on social media, to study its aesthetics, the “voice”, the way it communicates with its audience ».
Furthermore, the box is of quality: the cardboard is thick, the graphics are offset printed and everything is finally packed by hand.
Once “released” from the contents, it is resistant and above all aesthetically much more beautiful than the usual boxes, it can be used for whatever you want: from personal experience – with this and other boxes – I suggest making them containers for sewing kits, for pencils and felt-tip pens, for stamps, for CDs (if you still have them around the house) and for all the so-called Volatile (ie printed materials designed for time-limited use, such as party flyers, event invitations, business cards, greeting cards, bus cards, postcards, bookmarks) interesting from a graphic point of view.
Box 4, by Edizioni E / O
Who are the readers and the readers
After a year of activity, Romanzi.it was able to reconstruct a “typical profile”.
If the so-called “strong readers” in Italy are mainly women, Cuomo, Piccoli, Presotto and Drigo have in fact had more male clients than they first thought.
“We expected about 80% of the female audience,” Drigo reveals, “but in reality, the customers are mostly women, but the percentage is much lower.”
Almost everyone who buys the box loves the surprise, but there are still those who benefit from the aforementioned kig.
The most present age group is over 35 years, while the younger ones are mainly composed of female students, who in some cases live abroad, where they in the bookstores struggle to find the volumes that are in the boxes.
There are also many who decide to give a subscription as a gift, which is the formula you save the most with. And on the whole, those who start renew so.
There are those who prefer to start from the backlog by buying a single box, to see and touch them before signing up.
“It’s a first entry,” says Drigo, “and there are customers who first took all the available arrears and then drew.”