For some months now, the section dedicated to travel and tourism in the major bookstores in Milan has offered a wide range of city guides. It’s not the classic Lonely Planet and Touring Club, but guides often written in the first person and almost always linked to a blog or a very popular Instagram profile. The first Milan guide of this type, published in September 2021, was I know a place, by the homonymous blog edited by Caterina Zanzi, who has an Instagram profile with nearly 200,000 followers. Since its release, it has sold around 20,000 copies: after which at least six more have arrived in the last few months alone.
One of the latest is With Milan, written by Dario Cosentino, who has 61,000 followers on Instagram and has shared his explorations of the city at dawn for years: “Since I’m yet another book about Milan, I do not deny having lived the period before with a bit of anxiety about the release: we are talking about a 17 euro book with a limited market “, said Cosentino:” but it went well, they recently announced that it will be reprinted “. It has sold about 1,500 copies since May.
Among the guides born from Instagram profiles are there as well Milan Mon Amour by Lorenzo Bises, 59,000 followers, In Milan you canby Francesca Noè, 81 thousand followers, e Milan’s sincere places, of the homogenous Instagram profile with 55 thousand followers. In recent years, many social profiles have been born, which in various ways have dealt with telling Milan: Publishers have invested in them with many followers, because they usually guarantee a good number of sales. But there is not only this.
On Instagram, @Postisinceri is a research and photography project of historic restaurants and bars in Milan that has remained “uncontaminated” by fashion and with a certain authenticity. “When we started thinking about the Postisinceri Instagram profile, it was 2019, and it was not followed as much as it is today,” said Andrea Gentile, editor-in-chief of Saggiatore: “but the nostalgic imagery he referred to was very much in line. with with our catalog and was a period where we took the first steps in new sectors, including guides: For us, it was not so much a question of numbers, followers or conversions, but of identity.
Social networking is increasingly a place where publishers are looking for interesting ideas, writers with something to say, trends and new phenomena. Sometimes, when a trend is very clear, as in this case, it happens that there are many who intercept it and overlap in the outgoing publications.
Marcella Meciani, editor-in-chief of Vallardi, who published Milan Mon Amour by Lorenzo Bises, he said: “No one expected us all to have the same idea, but there is certainly a trend that has different causes and that many publishers have warned about. Milan has long been considered a very boring city, while now it is very rich, proactive, attractive, it is fashionable. It’s one of the places people dream of: it’s uncomfortable, but everyone wants to live there. ‘
Andrea Gentile del Saggiatore confirms this idea: “Milan is without a doubt now a city that has the ability to say something that ten years ago could not say. If the publisher’s task is to dig into today’s imaginary, Milan now has an imaginary: I do not know if we would have done it. The sincere places in Naplesmaybe yes, but for other reasons, with a different look ».
Lorenzo Bises had been very much on social media for several years, but had the idea of devoting himself more intensely to discovering the city by bike when he lost his job in the first months of the pandemic: the videos of his “girètti” bikes around Milan after the end of the lockdown, they have gathered a lot of followers on Instagram. Bises is educated in art history and combines the city’s personal history with the cultural and historical. Among the guides published in recent months, hers is one of the most narrative: it has no photographs or maps, but is divided into chapters that can be consulted or read one after the other, as a single story. Since its release in March, it has sold 2,000 copies.
Due to travel restrictions and travel difficulties due to the pandemic, many like Bises have started exploring the city in a way they did not before: as tourists. It happened not only in Milan, but Milan was the city that was talked about most online because it is the one with the highest concentration of influencers. A guide from Rome – the only one – born in the same way as Milan is Rome. Inside the smartphone, on foot and almost for free by Fabrizio Politi, who defines himself as a “storyteller” and who has 129,000 followers on Instagram.
However, many of the Milan guides recently published had already been designed in 2019, before the pandemic. It is e.g. the case of I know a place And In Milan you can: the author of the latter, Francesca Noè, who curates a blog and an Instagram profile of the same name, said that the “” Milan phenomenon “since the Expo, in 2015, has always been interesting, and between 2018 and 2019 there was a much attention from publishers to the influencers who talked about it: for example, I was contacted in 2019 ».
Noah’s book was published by DeAgostini, a publisher she says she chose because “they wanted a free guide, with a fresh and young tone, far from the conventions of the usual tour guides, which are very different from those in this new one. wave.” In Milan you can it has a structure that resembles a traditional guide more than Bises or Cosentinos, which has a more narrative approach. As well as I know a placeis designed to be consulted when needed and organized to meet specific needs (spend a little, eat outdoors, eat brunch).
In Milan you can it should have been released in September 2020, but due to coronavirus closures, the release was postponed and after much indecision set for March 2022: since then it has sold around 1200 copies. “We all came out at the same time because the pandemic flattened out the publishing calendar,” Noah continued, “if it had not been, there would certainly have been more expansion between the issues and the publishers could have offered less similar books. That said. “I do not see the other guides as competitors: people are different and Milan has many faces, everyone wants to find out who represents him best.”
Cosentino also thinks in a similar way: “we who tell Milan believe a little in the desire for the redemption of this city, which has always been considered” ugly “and is in fact a city of non-canonical beauty. Unlike Rome, Venice, Florence, which are obviously more beautiful, Milan is much smaller: you have to go and look for beauty because it is connected to the things that are happening. Everyone is looking for it in their own way, and if there are a lot of voices telling them in a different way, it’s okay, I do not think they’re competing.
As a publisher, Meciani has a slightly different idea: “If you add up the sales of all the guides, we see that they do really well, but no one wins. Of course, they are doing well and are books that have a long life. In the beginning, it may be only the followers who buy them, but then word of mouth also intervenes, and there are those who buy them because they see them in the bookstore. Bises’ book, for example, has very stable sales, and we see that the basket is not falling. But it is clear that if he had only been one, he would have sold much more, because in the end, they are all guides who meet the same need.
The book by Zanzi, first published in September, is also the one that sold significantly more than the others: partly because it has a larger following on Instagram, partly because it had no competition for many months.
Among the recently published Milan guides are also some whose authors are not influencers. The one is It’s easy to live well in Milan if you know what to do by Francesca Cassani, who had already published a book of the same title in 2016 and other similar books on Milan. His Overcoming stress in Milan is easy if you know where to go, published in 2011, sold about 4 thousand copies; the latter, released in April, sold a thousand.
The other is History of Milan. Guide for the curious and inquisitive by author and photographer Carla De Bernardi, published by Jaca Book. The publisher who edited De Bernardi’s book, Vera Minazzi, said the project was born out of meeting the author rather than from the desire to follow “a fashion”. “P.or even do so many times that we realize that we are intercepting something that is in the air “, said Minazzi,” we Milan also examine it from other points of view that the suburbs, housing problems, poverty: this aspect tourism is hidden but it was not our main request ». De Bernardi’s book is a guide for walkers and cyclists full of references to the city’s history: «iThe project was born before the pandemic, but now, in this post-pandemic climate, it may feel even more urgent to regain territory, to look around. We made the first presentation and the need arose from those present was to organize walks around Milan with the author instead of reading it “at the bedside table” ».