E-Publishing in Mondadori’s Future

[Italy] Gruppo Mondadori, one of Italy’s oldest and most reputable publishing empires, will follow the lead of its U.S. counterparts and enter the e-publishing business by the end of the year.

The first downloadable titles from Gruppo Mondadori are scheduled for fall of 2000, with an expanded list in the first quarter of 2001, according to Gian Arturo Ferrari, general director of Mondadori’s book division.

“E-publishing offers the industry an interesting and very cost effective alternative to traditional book production, distribution and sales,” explained Ferrari. “At the same time, if offers a marketing challenge, as online books lose their physical characteristics: they can no longer be seen or touched. In this sense, communications and promotion play major roles from the onset of a project.”

To test its online marketing efforts, and to get Italian Internet users in the habit of buyers buying e-books, Gruppo Mondadori plans to offer free or very low-cost, downloadable titles during the summer months, when Italian book sales traditionally increase.

“In general, e-publishing brings on a whole list of new problems,” Ferrari said, “of which encrypting and, more important, author’s rights, are among the top.”

Traditional book publishing called for International partners to handle, for example, Italian or German language translations, promotions, and sales. The sale of international language rights, in fact, made up much of the sales for large publishing houses in the United States. It also allowed companies like Gruppo Mondadori to bid on best-selling authors. E-publishing, pointed out the Mondadori general director eliminates such opportunities, as companies can now release an author’s work in several languages from a single website.

In a separate announcement, Mondadori announced their purchase of 1.9 percent of the Italian Internet portal Jumpy, owned by the multimedia/investment company, Fininvest.

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