It’s a bid to help save Italy’s bookshops, which “are at continual risk of closure all across the country,” according to Culture Minister Dario Franceschini.
The scheme, which the senate budget committee approved this week, will reduce council, property and waste taxes on bookshop owners. If they don’t own their premises, they can also claim a tax credit on their rent.
Independent shops will be eligible for up to €20,000 in tax credits, while chain stores are limited to €10,000.
In an amendment to the 2018 budget, the government allocated €4 million for the scheme in 2018 and €5 million every year from 2019.
“Protecting bookshops has a strong social value, as well as a cultural one,” Franceschini said.
Italy’s association of independent bookshops, the Sindacato Italiano Librai, welcomed the measure, saying that bookshops not only benefit customers but also help support authors, editors, printers and thousands of others involved in producing books.
The association’s president, Cristina Giussani, said she hoped that Italy would introduce additional measures to support its book trade, “a pillar of traditional Italian commerce” that is under pressure from online booksellers and chain retailers.
Italy is home to some of the world’s most unique bookshops, including Milan’s glamourous art and design hub 10 Corso Como and the charmingly chaotic Libreria Acqua Alta in Venice, where new and used books are stacked in gondolas.
According to the latest statistics available from 2015, nearly 60 percent of Italians don't read a book from one year to the next, with almost a tenth of families owning no books at all.