Founded by Francesco Cesare Vallardi
Founded by Francesco Cesare Vallardi
Founded by Adriano Salani
Emilio Treves founds the publishing house which will become Garzanti in 1939
Founded by Enrico Dell’Oglio
Founded by Ugo Guandalini
Aldo Garzanti takes over the Fratelli Treves publishing house and founds Garzanti
Founded by Leo Longanesi
Turin Bollati Boringhieri
Founded by Paolo Boringhieri
Rome Newton Compton
Founded by Vittorio Avanzini
Milan Casa Editrice Nord
Founded by Gianfranco Viviani
Milan La Coccinella
Founded by Domenico Caputo together with Giuliana Crespi, Loredana Farina and Giorgio Vanetti
Florence Ponte alle Grazie
Born on the initiative of Mario Spagnol, Gianni Merlini and Luciano Mauri.
Zurigo Nord-Sud Edizioni
Milan Ape Junior
Founded by Andrea Pestalozza
Florence Magazzini Salani
Founded by Luigi Spagnol
Began as an independent multimedia publishing house
Barcelona Duomo Ediciones
Founded by Monica Randi
The long history of the publishing group has its beginnings between the two world wars, when the son of an army general stationed in Verona, Valentino Bompiani, and an extremely gifted printer, Arnoldo Mondadori, meet. It is this encounter that leads the former to work as general secretary for the publishing house of the latter before founding his own company, Bompiani, in 1929.
A few years later, in 1935, Valentino Bompiani’s brother-in-law and former fellow student, Umberto Mauri, establishes a literary agency, Elicon, while also lending Valentino a helping hand at the publishing house. As the income from the literary agency is insufficient to support his family of 5 children, Umberto Mauri takes the decision to work for Arnoldo Mondadori and, in 1937, is entrusted with the running of Messaggerie Italiane, the exclusive national book distributor for Mondadori.
In the post-war years, Umberto Mauri gradually manages to acquire Messaggerie Italiane from Hachette. It is, too, in this period that Fabio Mauri, Umberto’s eldest son, meets Mario Spagnol in Lerici, where Valentino Bompiani bought a house in which he hosts an informal literary circle FREQUENTED by the greatest writers of the day. In 1955 Valentino Bompiani welcomes Mario Spagnol into the business, marking the beginning of a long and successful publishing career.
Following the death of Umberto in 1963, his fourth son Luciano Mauri succeeds him as CEO of the company and begins the restructuring of Messaggerie Italiane into divisions according to their various activities, such as book or magazine distribution. In 1977 he buys the publishing house Longanesi, which is then not only struggling financially, but also in decline in terms of editorial success; in 1979 he entrusts its management to Mario Spagnol, who masterminds its real renaissance, thanks, in large part, to a string of bestsellers by authors such as Wilbur Smith, Patrick Süskind, Michael Ende and Isabella Bossi Fedrigotti. In 1980 Mario Spagnol brings Guglielmo Tognetti into the business, a man with whom he has enjoyed a longstanding professional relationship.
With the identity and the fortunes of Longanesi restored, further acquisitions are made in 1986 (Guanda) and 1987 (Salani) and TEA is founded in partnership with UTET (1987). In doing so, Longanesi becomes a Group and between 1986 and 1991 invests in the reconstruction of the profile of its publishing houses. Mario Spagnol asks Stefano Mauri to revive Il Libraio, a literary magazine originally founded by Leo Longanesi and a veritable business card for the Group. The balance sheet is almost in the black, but shareholders are still required to intervene with injections of capital. It is during this short period that many of the current managers and directors join the Group, which now boast a turnover of 20 billion lire.
Between 1991 and 1999 the increased turnover of the individual publishing houses (including Corbaccio, acquired in 1992, and Ponte alle Grazie, acquired in 1993) goes hand in hand with the launch and relaunch of various genres and key authors: adventure (Cussler), humour (Covatta), New Age (Redfield), Latin American fiction (Sepúlveda), children’s fiction (with the series Gl’Istrici and the title Storia di una gabbianella e del gatto che le insegnò a volare), the educational novel (Gaarder), and Indian fiction (Seth, Roy). Italian publishing is mostly driven by the success of non-fiction titles penned by high-profile writers such as Terzani, Romano and Ottone.
Thanks to a new management structure able to coordinate editorial, commercial and economic needs, gradually all the publishing houses become self-sufficient in economic and financial terms, enjoying greater autonomy and able to raise the necessary funds for their activities. Longanesi buys Finarte’s shares in Corbaccio. It is at this stage that the Group becomes truly financially independent. Given the healthy performance of its various imprints, Messaggerie Italiane becomes a shareholder in Garzanti which, however, does not become part of the Group. The various roles within the Group are integrated to allow for efficiency and to promote growth. In this way, the Group’s turnover reaches 100 billion lire.
In September 1999 Mario Spagnol passes away and the Group is promptly restructured. Following Mario’s death, Stefano Mauri takes over the helm of Longanesi, which, in addition to its own publishing ventures, acts as a holding company for the Group and its subsidiaries. Stefano Mauri calls on the assistance of Marco Tarò, a former colleague, who had taken on the role of sales manager for Il Saggiatore.
Luigi Spagnol, Mario’s son, becomes head of an independent publishing enterprise consisting of Salani and Ponte alle Grazie, of which he remains sole editorial director; he will go on to mastermind the explosion of the Harry Potter phenomenon in Italy. Luigi Brioschi, formerly editorial director at Guanda, takes on the role of President of the same publishing house and is appointed editorial director of Longanesi. Meanwhile Giuseppe Somenzi succeeds as President of Pro Libro, the Group’s marketing arm which has seen uninterrupted growth since 1988. Stefano Res, former director of TEA, also becomes editorial coordinator of a remit that includes Nord, as well as joint publishing director of Superpocket. Stefano Mauri is put in charge of the companies controlled by Messaggerie Italiane (Corbaccio, Guanda, Longanesi, TEA, Vallardi) while Luigi Spagnol is asked to lead those controlled by his family (Ponte alle Grazie and Salani).
At the end of 2002, Stefano Mauri is also entrusted with Garzanti Libri. Renzo Guidieri, a former director of TEA who in the meantime has moved to UTET, is called in to assist him. Within the space of two years, under Stefano Mauri’s leadership, the publishing house manages to regain its economic stability, recovering the financial solidity necessary to guarantee its independence.
In 2003 Stefano Mauri began the integration of certain functions (sales and printing) with those of the other publishing houses in the Group. In the same year the publishing house Nord, managed by Marco Tarò, is acquired and Vallardi purchases Rough Guides, expanding the Group’s range of offerings into the travel sector.
In 2004 all the publishing houses that are going to form the new Group close the year with a balance sheet firmly in the black and consolidated profit grows by 12%. The Group has sold more than 10 million books directly, in addition to the 6 million copies sold under licence to third parties. In this way, the Group’s turnover reaches 100 million euros.
The Gruppo editoriale Mauri Spagnol (GeMS), named after its two founders, is established in Milan on 13 October 2005 as a result of a renewed agreement between the two publishing dynasties. The holding company, headed by Stefano Mauri asPresident and CEO together with Luigi Spagnol, is 73.7% owned by Messaggerie Italiane, 23% by the Spagnol family and 3.23% by Andrea Micheli. The Group holds controlling stakes in the 9 publishing houses Corbaccio, Garzanti Libri, Guanda, Longanesi, Nord, Ponte alle Grazie, Salani, TEA and Vallardi, as well as in the marketing company Pro Libro, and holds 50% of R.L. Libri, a publishing company that develops books for the mass-market sector in a joint venture with RCS Libri.
GeMS’s role is to oversee the Group’s industrial functions, giving the individual imprints complete editorial autonomy to deal with any new acquisitions and to organise the economic and financial planning of the various publishing ventures. It maintains the rights and acquisitions office, which manages relations with international publishers, scouts and agents, under the direction of Cristina Foschini.
Then, in December 2005, Luciano Mauri also passes away.
In 2006 Garzanti becomes wholly owned by the new born GeMS. With the expansion of the Group, new requirements emerge. Promotion and marketing thus become two key drivers of success. Pro Libro Service is founded: it takes over the promotion of third party publishers from Pro Libro and also starts to serve the needs of the Group’s subsidiaries and other clients. In the same year, the Group acquires 50% of GE.AM.CO to handle administrative and accounting operations.
In 2007 a new publishing house, Chiarelettere, is founded, with the aim of creating a space for free information and in-depth analysis; GeMS is a shareholder at 49%. Lorenzo Fazio is appointed editorial director under the leadership of Marco Tarò, the managing director. In the same year, Gianluca Mazzitelli becomes CEO of Salani (which comprises the imprints Ape, Nord-Sud edizioni, Magazzini, Ponte alle Grazie e Salani).
In 2009 the Group undertakes its first international start-up by setting up Duomo Ediciones, based in Barcelona, and acquires control of La Coccinella, market leader in the pre-school sector of quality board books, and Bollati Boringhieri, a prestigious Turin-based publishing house, whose management is entrusted to Renzo Guidieri.
With these acquisitions, GeMS confirms its position as a main player in Italian publishing, with over 12.5 million copies sold and a total turnover of approximately 176 million euros; then, in 2010, in an extraordinary publishing feat, GeMS becomes the Italian group with the highest growth rate (+13%). Two cookbooks by Benedetta Parodi and the bestselling novel L’ultima riga delle favole by Massimo Gramellini enter the Nielsen top 20 for the year.
In 2011 GeMS achieves another important milestone, gaining a 50% market share in the debut of works of foreign fiction. According to Nielsen’s data, the best-selling debut novel of 2011 is Il profumo delle foglie di limone by Clara Sánchez, published by Garzanti, with 400,000 copies sold and 52 weeks at the top of the bestsellers list.
2012 marks a year of extraordinary success with Sua Santità by Gianluigi Nuzzi (Chiarelettere), which sells over 250,000 copies, and the return of the fairytale crossover by Luis Sepúlveda. Twelve years after Storia di una gabbianella e del gatto che le insegnò a volare took the world by storm, in 2013 the Chilean author publishes Storia di un gatto e del topo che diventò suo amico and Storia di una lumaca che scoprì l’importanza della lentezza, which sell 250,000 and 350,000 copies respectively.
The years 2012 and 2013 see Massimo Gramellini dominate the Italian charts with his novel Fai bei sogni (Longanesi), which stands out as the most widely read book in Italy and over a million copies sold in 22 countries.
In 2014, ten years after his death, Tiziano Terzani’s Un’idea di destino, Diari di una vita straordinaria, is published. The book, the result of the author’s painstaking work of cataloguing meditations, letters and notes, bears powerful testimony to a great voice of the twentieth century.
Longanesi dominates the charts with Avrò cura di te by Massimo Gramellini and Chiara Gamberale, and with Il Dio del Fiume by the bestselling author Wilbur Smith.
Also in 2014 the Group celebrates two Nobel prize winners for literature and peace with two new titles: Dora Bruder by Patrick Modiano (Guanda) and I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (Garzanti).
In 2015 GeMS establishes itself as the second largest Italian publishing group of non-fiction, and also enjoys strong growth in the ebook sector.
In a year of great transformations for the industry, GeMS completes the acquisition of GE.AM.CO, acquires 33% of Edigita and publishes some of its bestsellers: Non luogo a procedere di Claudio Magris (Garzanti), winner of La Lettura as best novel of the year; Il magico potere del riordino by Marie Kondo (Vallardi); Storia di un cane che insegnò a un bambino la fedeltà by Luis Sepúlveda (Guanda); La ragazza nella nebbia by Donato Carrisi (Longanesi) and Via Crucis by Gianluigi Nuzzi (Chiarelettere).
The year 2016 sees the extraordinary success of the translation of Harry Potter and the cursed child (Salani): the play, based on an original story written by J.K. Rowling with J. John Tiffany and Jack Thorne, is the runaway bestseller of the year. Very popular too are Il maestro delle ombre di Carrisi (Longanesi), La dieta della longevità of Valter Longo (Vallardi) and the new long-awaited novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, Here I am (Guanda), voted best book of the year by La Lettura. There is praise, too, from the literary critics of the newspaper La Repubblica for La donna che scriveva racconti by Lucia Berlin, published posthumously by Bollati Boringhieri. During the year GeMS purchases other shares of Edigita, acquiring a 50% stake.
Published in 2017, the Italian edition of Helena Janeczek’s The Girl with a Leica (Guanda) is a great success with readers and critics alike and goes on to win the Strega prize the following year. The series Pj Masks (La Coccinella) proves very popular with preschool children, while La dieta della longevità (Vallardi) by scientist Walter Longo bears witness to the thriving trade in wellness diets.
Still in 2017, GeMS invests in the digital audiobook sector, creating an ad hoc division dedicated to their production and marketing.
Among the literary sensations of 2018, particularly remarkable are Eleanor Oliphant by Gail Honeyman (Garzanti) and the first novel by Ilaria Tuti, Fiori sopra l’inferno (Longanesi), the most successful debuts on the foreign and Italian fiction market respectively. In the same year, the Italian edition of Becoming by Michelle Obama (Garzanti) is also published, to great acclaim.
In February 2019, GeMS announces the controlling interest at 51% of Newton Compton editori, a Roman imprint run by Raffaello Avanzini.
In 2019 the best-selling book in Italy is I leoni di Sicilia by Stefania Auci (Nord). La casa delle voci by Donato Carrisi (Longanesi) also reaches the top spot in the charts. Following the major success of L’allieva, Alessia Gazzola launches a new series Questione di Costanza (Longanesi). The great literary talent that is Claudio Magris makes a comeback with Tempo curvo a Krems (Garzanti). With I testamenti (Ponte alle Grazie) the Canadian Margaret Atwood continues her dystopic narrative Il racconto dell’Ancella. In the same year, Andrea Tarabbia’s Madrigale senza suono (Bollati Boringhieri) wins the Campiello prize and Peter Handke, published by Guanda, is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The real Italian non-fiction hero is Vito Mancuso with La forza di essere migliori (Garzanti).
In the year 2020, marked by the onslaught of the pandemic, Stefania Auci and Donato Carrisi dominate the charts the entire time. Sadly, the GeMS family is once again in mourning, following the death, at only 59, of Luigi Spagnol, mastermind of the Italian editions of bestsellers such as the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling and Storia di una gabbianella e del gatto che le insegnò a volare by Luis Sepúlveda. Unfortunately, the much-loved Chilean writer also dies, on 16 April, aged 70, marking yet another tragic loss for the Group.
In July 2020, the Board of Directors appoints Marco Tarò as Managing Director, alongside Stefano Mauri, President and CEO, while Nicola Gardini is appointed President of Salani.
Among the bestsellers of the year are Una donna normale by Roberto Costantini (Longanesi), Finché il caffè è caldo by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Garzanti), Il quaderno dell’amore perduto by Valérie Perrin (Nord), La casa sull’argine by Daniela Raimondi (Nord), not forgetting the saga by Stefania Auci, which continues its heady run at the top of the best seller lists, and Donato Carrisi, who entertained many readers throughout the lockdown. Extremely popular among the young are Le storie del mistero by Lyon Gamer and Rinascita. Timeport by Stef & Phere, published by Magazzini Salani.