Nana Lohrengel is in charge of all didactic activities of the Umberto and Elisabetta Mauri School for Booksellers in Italy and since 2014 she is General Secretary of the Umberto and Elisabetta Mauri Foundation. Nana presented in Readmagine 22 the activities and the vision about the educational programs for the professionals of the book industry, specially the book retailers. Her participation as a speaker took place during the session devoted to the training and educational strategies for the future of publishing under the title: “Reskilling, upskilling (trends in training for the publishing)” and also shared her insights on the role of her organisation in relation with the SDG of UN 2030 agenda (the general topic for the event of this year).
The Umberto and Elisabetta Mauri School for Booksellers was founded in 1983 by Luciano Mauri, in memory of his father Umberto and of his own daughter Elisabetta who died prematurely. In its 40 years of annual iterations, the School has become a space for debating, testing and assessing the possibilities of the book industry. Programs have always been geared towards professional and aspiring booksellers, and the School restates its commitment by organising important dialogue opportunities about the future of books, involving Italian and international booksellers and publishers.
In this video you can follow the explanations by Lohrengel and how she regards the educational and professional training effort as something directed towards the creation of a common European book culture. The activities of this educational strategy focus on the fundamentals of running a business as a bookseller, exploring all the required management, technological and cultural skills. The program of Umberto and Elisabetta Mauri Foundation School for Booksellers also aims to take stock on the necessary knowledge for an ever-evolving profession.
This School’s project has long been characterized by two main activities:
- The specialization course in Venice, referred to as a postgraduate seminar
- The monographic courses held in Milan
Those are two exceptional training opportunities to address and explore the main aspects of a bookstore’s activities, including management, finance, distribution, marketing and promotion.
The specialization seminar was the first course, involving 30 professional booksellers, takes place every year at the end of January at the Venice Giorgio Cini Foundation.
The symposium includes three days of study and a final conference, a paramount opportunity to assess the Italian and international book scene.
In the on-line field Lohrengel said that the pandemic during 2021 and (also) in 2022 was a big challenge and the School successfully shifted to the online mode. Several hundreds of attendees joined the monographic courses and the two online editions of the final Conference were followed by over 1000 participants in 29 countries.
As of 2018, the School has decided to expand its teaching effort by starting various training projects in addition to the traditional ones in Milan and Venice.
Among this expansion activities, there is the partnership with the main Italian wholesaler Fastbook: in 2018 and 2019 the School has organized a series of courses in the cash & carry offices of Bologna, Padua, Florence, Rome, Turin and Milan.
In 2018 the School also launched a training project for booksellers in central and southern Italy in collaboration with the promotional networks Emmepromozione and PDE Promozione. The first three events were held in Rome, Naples (2018) and Palermo (2019). The fourth meeting – the first after the pandemic – is scheduled for Fall 2022 in Bari.
The purpose of all these initiatives is to involve an increasing number of bookstores, especially the independent and smaller ones, who may find it difficult to reach the School’s traditional locations.
In addition to the training program, the support provided by the School for Booksellers includes the assignment of the Luciano and Silvana Mauri Booksellers Prize and of the Nick Perren Job Grant. Both are assigned in Venice at the School’s annual final conference.
Lohrengel also explained the aim and organisation of the Luciano and Silvana Mauri Booksellers Prize. This Prize was established in 2007 in memory of Luciano Mauri and Silvana Ottieri Mauri, Umberto’s son and daughter. Now in its 16th edition, the Prize is awarded every year to an Italian bookseller who has distinguished him or herself for initiatives to support of culture and the dissemination of books.
Another activity is a resident program named after a great friend of the School of Booksellers, the Profile Books chairman Nick Perren, this Job grant was launched in 2020 by the initiative of Waterstones CEO James Daunt. The Exchange program offers the opportunity to spend a month in a Waterstones bookshop and experience a different professional approach in one of the most successful enterprises in the business. The first winner was Irene Quercioli (Rinascita bookstore, Empoli), who has just finished her experience at Waterstones Trafalgar Square.
Nana Lohrengel also shared her views about the challenges that the SDG pose on the book industry side and how they have to be managed also from the educational perspective.
For instance, among other considerations, she referred to the case of climate action, which is related to issues such as paper and ink management, energy consumption and emissions, paper waste management or transportation and books distribution. The diversity and inclusion linked to policies practiced by the organisation, equal opportunities and empowerment for women, remuneration and social protection policies to promote gender equality, skills development, health and safety for workers or welfare.
Nana Lohrengel is born in Munich. She starts working as a bookseller in Berlin at the bookstore Bücherbogen am Savigny Platz and studies at the Buchhändlerschule Frankfurt am Main (known today as Mediacampus). She starts her career working for Könemann Publishing (Köln) in 1998, being in charge as Sales Manager of major German clients, such as Hugendubel and Thalia. In 1999 she moves for Könemann to Milan, becoming Sales Director for Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel and Middle East. From 2003 to 2005, with Mauro Loce, she works in printing and binding producing mainly visual books for international publishers. Mother of two girls, she decides to take care of her family for a few years. In 2009 she starts working again as a bookseller at the Hoepli bookstore. Since 2013 she is in charge of all didactic activities of the Umberto and Elisabetta Mauri School for Booksellers in Italy. Since 2014 she is General Secretary of the Umberto and Elisabetta Mauri Foundation.