How COVID-19 Stopped The Press

BookPub takes a look at how lockdown affected publishers releasing books…

It’s very hard to wrap your head around the fact that COVID-19 pandemic stopped the WHOLE world and not just a single country at one time. The world has spent over, if not just under, 10 weeks under lockdown. Some have risked their lives to protect the rest because their jobs are heavily relied upon. Authors and Publishers, on the other hand, found conflict on the best approach to release their books and whether or not the pandemic should be the topic of their next novel. When sitting down to write this article, it dawns on you how many factors have been placed on this pandemic.

Publication Push Backs

One report has stated “Key Spring and Summer releases will be pushed back to European Autumn”. Writers have thought it is best to produce a quality piece of work over the quantity of the pages within the book. Many have rushed deadlines from publishers to produce work, especially if the demand is high like sequels or franchises, but sometimes can’t escape writers block therefore delaying. Other occasions like COVID-19 have caused the release of a book to be pushed so far ahead because there are pre-booked tours and interviews which some writers prefer for publicity. Like the music industry, there are only allocated slots that will be purchased for the book to sit on the shelving. This is otherwise known as advertising space for marketing. As titles get pushed back at the beginning of the year, it will mean the shelf space is being taken up due to the competition of books that were originally planned to be released in Autumn and ones that were delayed in early 2020. For example, BookPub was super excited about The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna only to discover it was pushed back to Spring 2021! If we have to be honest though, it will be worth the wait. You can find more examples below:

Financial Loss

The people who suffer most from this process is Indie book stores who are suffocated by ecommerce giants. The IBAI (Independent Bookshops Association of India) has recognised the issues of a preference for online platforms, deep discounts offered (Amazon) and differential treatment of retailers based on volumes sold so they are campaigning to raise publishers and distributors attention enough to get them to help with their concern.

Support #IndieBookshopWeek from 20 to 27 June 2020!

Alongside India, America has been joining their unified courage in order to help save book stores. Many have turned to crowd funding in order to help save their business which have been significantly struck by the struggles since the outbreak of COVID-19. James Patterson and Reese Whitherspoon’s Book Club ‘Hello Sunshine‘ have been campaigning on twitter under the hashtag: SaveIndieBookstores having raised over $750,000. The two have paired together in order to raise funds by hosting live Instagram feeds to their fans. Other Giants like BookShop have donated $10,000 towards local book stores around the U.S but as they generate a $5 Million profit a year this is yet to increase. BookPub have also noticed that there are supermarkets like Co-Op, Lidl and Poundland who sell pre-loved books or like new books in stores. The issues that appear in these environments are books are often left or not appreciated on shelves because of the fast-paced environment (expiry dates etc.) where as book stores are personally designed for readers to browse. It is a well known fact that authors like to go into a book store and move round their books to the front or watch people enter to buy it. Most importantly it is their source of income!

Out with the ‘old’ and In with the ‘new’

The main cause of loss from this figure is due to the lack of book stores being open when they’re easily accessed online. German Publishers and Book Sellers Association reported to have placed stock loss value of half a billion euros. If you think about it, some books at the beginning of the pandemic might be stuck in import docks, been touched so much it risks health and safety, couriers are unable to send them to warehouses, factories cannot physically print the books and book events have been cancelled. Germany have made a good example to just a small factor of the financial loss that book stores and chains are facing due to the disruption. It depends how quickly publishers can deliver books to individual stores worldwide. There are some balancing factors to lockdown but at a hefty price.

BookSeller had told The Guardian that book sales plummeted 60% but many stores had been hit as bad as 90%. Sales in books have been bashed over the past five years which first took it’s clear drop in 2017 due to the usage of radio. As technology have evolved, the music industry have dominated with the release of Dre Beats Headphones or Ipods. We have all been so consumed into a niche of buying fancy equipment and posing for Instagram had taking its toll on ‘traditional’ activities. Amazon Kindle (2007) hit the jackpot with their technology that enables readers to download books on the go. This has since boomed for users allowing them to take books on the go, perfect for commuters, beating competition with fantastic prices on books leading consumers down the path of online purchasing.

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Waterstone’s announced they will be leaving their books for 72 hours before allowing them to be sent to customers. This is to allow for any traces of the virus to disappear from hard surfaces after being handled by couriers, staff and factory workers.

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