The Italian government has unveiled a master plan for attracting foreign investment, and for some reason, it includes a tax deduction for people who buy books! The plan, called Destinazione Italia (Destination Italy), aims to open up Italy to the outside world and increase the competitiveness of national companies. “Italy can greatly benefit from globalisation,” it begins.

Among many other policies, which include incentivizing the use of renewable energy and privatizing state-owned companies, the plan calls for a 19% tax deduction for those who buy books with a “user ISBN,” with an annual limit of €2,000 ($2,763). Within that, half is “for school books and college” and half “for all other publications,” according to Agenze Giornalistica Italia. The goal is “to promote greater dissemination of reading physical books” — which is great, but it’s not entirely clear what this has to do with foreign investment and the revitalization of Italy’s economy. TeleRead says the plan discusses “using culture as a lever in a ‘diplomacy of attraction’” and includes other “pro-cultural policies such as tax credits for music and film productions.” We’ll see if and how the promotion of a physical book trade fits into that scheme, although I can’t help thinking the government might be wise to put precautions in place for stolen books first.

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Jillian Steinhauer

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art...