Istat's annual report on the production and reading of books in Italy has produced alarming headlines, and the the fear that the publishing market will become increasingly thin. Only 40.5% of the sample say they have read at least one book in 2016. Although the sirens accompanying the rhetoric of the so-called functional illiteracy have had their say, and although the percentage is indeed low compared to other European countries, interpreting the data is complex. Detaching oneself from terror at the plague of ignorance, there is perhaps an opportunity to rethink the editorial and cultural policies: the idea that education goes only via the written word, for example, or directing more resources towards libraries and places of knowledge in general.