Italy isn’t known as a hotbed of digital publishing innovation or activity. In fact, ebooks only account for somewhere around 4% of publisher revenue in the country, according to Marcello Vena, director of digital business at RCS Libri, which owns book publisher Rizzoli, among other companies. (He’s also a DBW blogger.)
Yet, despite this nascent state of the market, Vena has been quietly building an innovation powerhouse at Rizzoli. He has a digital team that is dedicated to coming out with one new innovation project a quarter, Vena told me last week at the London Book Fair.
He outlines some of the innovations in a recent blog post:
– Digital-first imprint (Rizzoli First, July 2012)
– Ebook-streaming service on Italy’s high-speed trains (December 2012)
– Ebook streaming on Pinterest (May 2013)
– “Co-publishing,” a third way between traditional publishing and self-publishing (July 2013)
– Ebook and print bundling (December 2013)
– Online literary award for unpublished novels in partnership with Amazon (January 2014)
– The first immersive narrative ebook collection for kids in Italy (March 2014)
While some of these are more “innovative” than others by U.S. standards, for a market where ebooks are such a small percentage of the business, they’re downright revolutionary — and risky.