Over the last few months, Acta (https://www NULL.actainrete NULL.it/), the Italian association of freelancers, which is a member of EFIP (https://freelancersweek NULL.org/about/european-forum-of-independent-professionals-efip/) (European Forum of Independent Professionals), has undertaken research on the subject, involving editors, translators, graphic designers and illustrators, both freelance and employed. The survey was carried out through focus groups in Milan and Rome, dozens of individual interviews and two online surveys, disseminated thanks to the collaboration with the literary translators’ union SLC-Strade (http://www NULL.traduttoristrade NULL.it/) and the illustrators’ association AI – Autori di Immagini (http://www NULL.autoridimmagini NULL.it/).
It has emerged that the workforce in the Italian publishing industry is largely made up of women, with a high level of university education, who work a lot (an average of 40 hours a week) and earn very little: more than half of the respondents earn less than €15,000 gross per year. Many workers in the sector are freelancers: thus, they only partially benefit from Italian welfare and have to face the additional problem of late payments (that is to say more than 60 days after the invoice is issued).
In order to improve the situation, Acta has prepared four proposals that will be shared with workers, publishers and political forces in the coming months at festivals such as Bookcity in Milan and Più Libri Più Liberi in Rome. Acta asks publishers to adequately pay any editorial work; to recognize the role of publishing professionals, by printing their names on every published book; to respect payment and contract terms already established by Italian law; and to restrict the use of internships, especially if unpaid.
The next step will be in Milan, during the Bookcity festival, on Saturday 16th November, at 16.00, when there will be flash mob called “Libri, che Passione! La via crucis del lavoro editoriale” (“Books, what a Passion! The Stations of the Cross of publishing work”), in front of Fondazione Feltrinelli on Viale Pasubio. The gathering will continue with a walking tour of the city to tell the festival audience about the many difficulties faced by professionals in the sector, especially in the glittering, showcase-city that is Milan. While passion is often used as a means to exploit workers in the publishing sector, such workers need to be passionate about listening to each other and joining forces to fight for change in order to improve the situation.