Since its origins in 1907, Mondadori has sought to be by vocation a publishing house for all Italians, disseminating the joy of reading throughout the country and bearing witness to society’s evolution. The following interactive timeline highlights on one hand how the company evolved from a small printing company in the Lombardy countryside to an international corporation and on the other hand the innovations that underpinned its success.
Arnoldo Mondadori, aged 18, begins to work in the editorial business by publishing the periodical Luce!.
Arnoldo Mondadori publishes its first book, Aia Madama by Tomaso Monicelli. The following year the company creates its first book series, La Lampada, which is dedicated to children’s books.
In Ostiglia he establishes “La Sociale”, the first seat of A. Mondadori & C’s plant of graphical arts “La Sociale”. During the first years the publishing company focuses on the production of textbooks for schools, something that will continue to be developed until the introduction under Mussolini of the national unified textbook for primary schools.
During World War I, the publishing house does not stop its activities. On the contrary, it worked intensely on the publishing of several magazines for the troops on the front line. Among the more notably were La Ghirba and La Tradotta, with which famous writers and illustrators such as Soffici, De Chirico and Carrà collaborated.
This is a period of fundamental decisions for the consolidation of the young publishing house. Arnoldo Mondadori transfers the headquarters to Milan, already the headquarters of the biggest publishers of those days including Sonzogno and Treves. He establishes a printing plant in San Nazaro di Verona.
Thanks to the launch of several successful book series – Le Grazie, I Romanzi d’oggi, Le Scie, La Biblioteca Romantica – and the creation of his first magazines – Novella, La Donna, Romanzo Film and, in the 1930s, Il Milione and Il Secolo Illustrato, a format that anticipates by many years that of the future newsmagazines – Arnoldo Mondadori’s dynamism soon stands out in the static and traditional editorial industry.
Launch of Enciclopedia dei Ragazzi, an extremely innovative work for that period, published also in weekly issues.
Arnoldo Mondadori buys the property rights for the entire works of Gabriele D’Annunzio, with whom he will enjoy a successful period of literary publications. In this period Mondadori acquires the rights to some of the greatest Italian writers including Luigi Pirandello, Giovanni Pascoli, Giovanni Verga, Antonio Fogazzaro and Grazia Deledda.
Launch of Gialli Mondadori, the Italian book series dedicated to detective stories. The Gialli were so successful that a whole literary and film genre were named after them.
Moving around the constraints of the cultural autarchy imposed by the fascist regime, Mondadori launches the Medusa series that contains the works of great internationally renowned authors. Medusa opened a decade peppered with the creation of important works by some of the most important Italian book series, among others the Classici italiani, managed by Francesco Flora (1934) and Lo Specchio (1940).
Arnoldo Mondadori and Walt Disney reach the first important International accord that includes an Italian publishing company. From this point forward the Mondadori name will be associated with Walt Disney’s creations for children.
Launch of the fiction series Omnibus. Among the first works published was one of the most popular books ever: Via Col Vento.
Mondadori publishes Grazia, the first modern weekly women’s magazine, that will enjoy a broad circulation.
Launch of Tempo, forerunner of the great news magazines that will be published in Italy after World War II. The project is managed by Alberto Mondadori, Arnoldo’s first-born.
To escape from the air raids during World War II, the headquarters and the editorial offices are moved to Arona, but after September 1943 they are requisitioned by the Fascist government. The Mondadori family seeks refuge in Switzerland.
Arnoldo Mondadori takes back the ownership of the company and starts its reconstruction by recollecting the printing machines stolen by the Nazi and by purchasing, also thanks to the subsidies provided by the Marshall Plan, new American rotary presses to develop the publication of periodicals. The publishing house resumes the publication of new book series as well as the magazines suspended during the war and launches new magazines including Confidenze and Bolero Film.
With the establishment of the Biblioteca Moderna Mondadori, the publishing house tests its first book series of high literary quality issuing mainly works already published in the main collections at affordable prices to extend the readership, especially among young people.
With the issue of Epoca Mondadori brings to Italy the American model of illustrated journalism, on the model of Look and Life, with an editorial staff that includes journalists like Biagi, Del Buono, Spadolini, Zavattini. This is also the year of the launch of new book series of broad circulation, as I Libri del Pavone and Il Bosco. The publishing house links its name to the greatest contemporary authors including Hemingway, Simenon, Sartre, Dos Passos, Ungaretti, Pratolini, Remarque, Montale and Buzzati, to name just a few.
Mondadori becomes a company of international relevance, not only for its size, but also for its ability to create fruitful collaboration with foreign publishers. Arnoldo Mondadori already in 1949 begins to lay the basis for the opening of sales offices in foreign cities.
Launch of the first collection of science-fiction novels (Romanzi di Urania), which will prove to be very successful.
Launch of the bookshop chain “Mondadori per voi”, the publishing house’s first project to renew Italy’s retail book sector.
Mondadori creates the Club degli Editori, first Italian mail-order book club.
Mondadori launches Panorama, the first Italian newsmagazine.
The launch of the Oscar series – the first low-cost paperback that were also sold at newsstands – was a revolution that shook the Italian book market. The idea that newsagents could represent a valid distribution channel proved very successful: within a few days the first Oscar titles recorded sky-high sales figures.
Mondadori launches the high-quality Meridiani series aiming to cash in on the success of two other prestigious series - Classici Contemporanei Italiani and Classici Contemporanei Stranieri - by publishing the most famous authors of all time from around the world.
Mondadori continues to expand its magazine business with the launch of many magazines: Casaviva (1973), Starbene (1978), Auto Oggi (1986), Sale & Pepe (1987) and Donna Moderna (1988). Mondadori takes its current form as a large publishing company consisting of a holding company that controls many subsidiaries active in various editorial areas.
Arnoldo Mondadori dies. His son, Giorgio (who had already become chairman in 1968), takes over from him until he in turn is succeeded in 1976 by Mario Formenton, who remains in charge until his premature death in 1987.
Mondadori opens its new corporate headquarters in Segrate. The building is designed by Oscar Niemeyer, one of the world's leading contemporary architects.
Established though an agreement between Espresso and Mondadori, and founded by journalist Eugenio Scalfari, la Repubblica was Mondadori entry into the daily newspaper business. The newspaper introduced a new journalistic style and the tabloid format to Italian journalism. La Repubblica rapidly established itself as the newspaper of the new generation and of managers.
Mondadori signs an agreement with the Canadian group, Harlequin, to launch an Italian version of Harmony, the most popular international series of romantic fiction. The publishing house enters the television sector with the launch of the Retequattro television channel, which is subsequently sold to the Fininvest Group.
Mondadori acquires Ediciones Grijalbo and sets up Elemond, a holding company for publishing activities including prestigious brands such as Electa and Einaudi. The Group also enters the information technology sector through Mondadori Informatica.
A period of instability of the group's shareholder structure ended in 1991 with the exit of Carlo De Benedetti, Carlo Caracciolo and Eugenio Scalfari. At the same time, the newspaper la Repubblica and Cartiera di Ascoli were moved to the CIR Group.
The Mondadori Group signs a joint venture with the Gruner+Jahr publishing group for the publication of new magazines in Italy.
Mondadori becomes part of the Fininvest Group. Leonardo Mondadori is named chairman of the company.
Mondadori lends its name to one of the most successful publishing operations of all time with the publication of Varcare la Soglia della Speranza by Pope John Paul II. The book is published around the world. The company takes over direct management of the Sorit printing plant and the Silvio Berlusconi Editore magazines TV Sorrisi e Canzoni, Ciak, Telepiù and Tutto.
Miti is launched, the first Italian series of very low-priced paperbacks sold in all the main sales outlets including bookshops, newsstands and large stores. This is the beginning of a new mass-market strategy aimed at enlarging the Italian book market. Mondadori buys 100% of the Sperling & Kupfer publishing group, which also includes the Frassinelli imprint. The Group enters the multimedia publishing sector with Mondadori New Media.
The publishing house is very successful in the continuously expanding cultural events sector, promoting one of the most important initiatives of the year, the From Monet to Picasso art exhibition.
The basis for Gruppo Mondadori’s future development is laid with the establishment of a new organisational structure of six business areas and four central corporate functions. The first three-year development plan is launched.
Mondadori consolidates its presence in the sectors in which it operates through a number of initiatives. Among the most significant are the launch of the magazines Panorama Travel and Top Girl; the opening of the Mondadori Informatica Multicenter in Milan, the first Italian media mega-store; the development of franchising after the acquisition of the Gulliver chain and the opening of Mondadori bookstore franchises.
An effective acquisition and joint-venture policy helps the Mondadori Group further strengthen its position in the Italian publishing market. The Group enters the school textbook sector through the acquisitions of Mursia Scuola, Le Monnier and Poseidonia; it strengthens its magazine business through joint ventures with the U.S. media company Hearst; starts a direct marketing activity with the creation of Mondolibri - a joint venture between Club degli Editori and Eurolibri (Bertelsmann Group). Other significant events during the year include the launch of the Tu (now Tu Style) magazine, the establishment of the company Mondadori Printing and the exhibition I Cento Capolavori dell'Ermitage.
The expansion programme continues across all areas of the business with the establishment of the joint ventures Mondadori Rodale, BOL Italia, ACI Mondadori; the launch of new magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Men's Health and Jack; and the opening of new Mondadori bookstores in Florence and Padua and a new Multicenter store on Milan's Via Marghera, the largest media store in Italy.
The joint venture between Mondadori and the Italian Automobile Club (ACI) yields its first fruits with the launch of the car magazine Cambio, later followed by Evo, Automobile Club, HP Trasporti Club. Mondadori and Microsoft reach an agreement for the creation of the first Italian eBook store. Mondadori and the Bertelsmann Group create Grupo Editorial Random House Mondadori, a joint venture in which they both have a 50 percent share.
Chairman Leonardo Mondadori dies on December 13, 2002. On February 5, 2003, he is replaced by Marina Berlusconi.
The Group continues to pursue its development strategy in all areas of business. Mondadori acquires 70% of Piemme, a publishing house specialising in children books. Mondadori also agrees to buy 40% of Greece’s Attica Publications, a leader in the Greek consumer magazine market, and it launches a range of new magazines, including Flair, Economy and Evo.
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, released in Italy by Mondadori at Christmas 2003, becomes the literary phenomenon of the year. The thriller, which recounts the adventures of symbology expert Professor Langdon, sells about 2 million copies in 2004 and remains for over two years among the ten best-selling titles in Italy.
Mondadori enters the radio market with the acquisition, through its subsidiary Monradio, of Radio 101 One-O-One. The station is relaunched as Radio R101 and is one of the most famous national radio stations.
Mondadori further strengthens its position on the international market, acquiring Emap France, the third-largest publisher in the French periodicals market. Mondadori France is founded. Mondadadori publishes Gomorra by Roberto Saviano, the bitter and fierce story of a journey in the economic and financial empire of the Camorra. The debut novel of this Neapolitan writer has sold over 2 million copies in Italy and is distributed in translation in 50 countries.
The 100th anniversary of Mondadori, one of the most important milestones in the publishing company’s history. The Group’s international expansion in the magazine market continues through licensing agreements to export the brands that best represent Italian lifestyle and taste in fashion, furnishing and cooking beginning with the weekly Grazia. Alongside the Grazia International Network, a number of other launches of Mondadori titles are made under licensing agreements with foreign publishers including interiors and design titles Casaviva, Interni and Grazia Casa, the women’s magazine Flair and the upmarket cookery monthly Sale&Pepe.
Paolo Giordano's The Solitude of Prime Numbers becomes the book of the year, surpassing one million copies sold in a few months. The debut novel of the young writer from Turin wins the Campiello Giovani prize and is awarded the 62nd edition of the Strega award.
Mondadori launches the French edition of the women's weekly Grazia, a title that interprets the world of Italian elegance and style around the world. Thanks to its innovative editorial formula, the new magazine rapidly establishes itself as a new point of reference in the upscale women's magazine market. Grazia France achieves excellent results in terms of both circulation and advertising.
Mondadori enters the ebook market with three separate initiatives: in June, the Group’s online bookstore, Bol.it, launches a store dedicated to digital books, with a vast catalogue of titles in Italian and English. In October, Mondadori signs an agreement with Telecom Italia for the distribution of books on Bibleststore, Italy’s first digital bookstore which, thanks to the cooperation between the two companies, makes available 800 backlist and over 400 new titles in digital formats from the catalogues of Mondadori, Einaudi, Sperling & Kupfer and Piemme. Finally, in December, Mondadori reaches an agreement for the international distribution of books produced by the Group’s publishing houses on Google Books and Google eBooks.
Mondadori’s strategy for developing digital content, launched in 2010, accelerates. Thanks to an accord with Vodafone Italia, Mondadori launches the first online newsstand for tablets. Through this new platform it is possible to access the digital edition of the Group’s major weeklies and monthlies. Through a dedicated application it’s also possible to access more than 110,000 ebooks available on Bol.it. The digital development continues in July 2011 with an agreement between Mondadori and Amazon that makes the Group’s ebooks available through the Kindle store. In September 2011, Mondadori’s digital titles are also made available on the iBookstore for the Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
With the creation of Box for You, Mondadori enters the gift box market. Made by Mondadori Direct and sold in the Group’s network of stores and on Bol.it, Box for You offers a wide range of options across the country. Each box offers a prepaid voucher, a book of discounts and benefits on Mondadori’s services and products, the catalog of offers, and a theme book. For overnight stays a booking center is available to help choose the structure and obtain all relevant information.
Mondadori introduces in Italy Kobo’s eReader devices
Mondadori Group and Kobo Inc., a leading company globally in digital reading, sign an accord for the distribution in Italy of Kobo’s eReading platform and related devices. Thanks to the biggest network of bookshops in Italy and one of the biggest online media stores, Mondadori represents for Kobo an ideal partner to enter the Italian market with its products.
Kobo’s eReader devices – with various models such as Touch, Mini and Glo – offer competitive prices and features and are supported by an open network that allows users to synchronise purchased ebooks across different devices (desktop, laptop, tablet, Android smartphones, iPhone and iPad). The first eReaders hit Mondadori stores in October, followed in November by the 7” Android tablet Kobo Arc, which gives access to magazines, the internet, music, news, videos, apps and the entire panorama of social networks.
Following excellent sales in China, Thailand, Indonesia and India, 2013 saw the successful launch of Grazia in 3 new key markets: Spain, Korea, Mexico. Consequently, the women’s magazine that interprets Italian style and elegance now has 23 editions around the world and a monthly circulation of over 7.8 million copies.
November 2014 saw the creation of Mondadori Libri S.p.A., a wholly-owned company of the Group that brings together the publishing and distribution activities of the Books area and the assets of the book publishing companies in the trade, art and educational sectors Edizioni Piemme, Giulio Einaudi Editore, Mondadori Education, Mondadori Electa, Sperling & Kupfer Editori, as well as the stake in the joint venture Harlequin Mondadori and the distribution company Mach 2 Libri.
The creation of the new company allows for a more functional structure for the potential achievement of further development, as well as opportunities for new partnerships and acquisitions. Two separate areas of responsibility have been maintained within the new company: trade, for the publication of fiction and non-fiction; and, educational, that brings together all of the company’s internally designed production (from school textbooks to training in general and art and illustrated books), as well as the organisation and management of exhibitions and archaeological sites.