Publishing in the Pandemic: Points to Note

[Approximate Reading Time : 4 mins]

The COVID-19 pandemic has given people across the world more time indoors, which is an opportunity that many seldom got in pre-COVID-19 times, when things were relatively normal. With more time on their hands, authors and readers are either refining their skills and hobbies or learning new ones. Fewer distractions have helped bookworms grab more than their fair share of reading, while others who previously didn’t have a penchant for the activity have now started cultivating it. A survey by Nielsen BookData has shown that the overall UK population has doubled its reading time to six hours a week.

Many publishing companies were unexpectedly hit with this crisis when they’d just begun venturing into e-commerce, yet they were better prepared than many other consumer products. And they are changing their business strategies just like any other media platform.

This pandemic has seen the sales of eBooks rise steadily, as people have begun taking hygiene precautions. Print copies of books are still preferred by avid readers who are reluctant to let go of the feel of physical books, but with many bookstores closed to the public and online stores concentrating on the delivery of essential commodities, physical books are difficult to obtain. Bookstores are therefore trying to sell print books through websites with delivery options, and this move is being welcomed by the majority. Many bookstores have opted for GoFundMe pages to petition for support from the public and publishers. As a bookstore presents a social experience that belongs to a neighborhood, people will certainly revisit them, once things reach a new normal.

Online sales follow a winner-takes-it-all algorithm, favoring books published by high-performing authors and previous works. So independent authors have to majorly rely on self-marketing and creating a following through social media platforms. Many book tours have been changed to online sessions where the reader can log in at a particular time and watch the author’s discussion. This has brought in more traffic and exposure than in-person visits, as it allows readers to connect from wherever they are. Ms. Veronica Roth, creator of the Divergent series, was surprised to have reached more readers from places she wasn’t planning on visiting.

Some publishers have pushed back release dates for new books, but many authors have started the release of eBooks followed by print editions, thus creating a new trend. International best-selling author J. K. Rowling released her children’s story The Ickabog online, chapter wise, and the print version is set to be released in November. Some authors, like Darren Shan, have also released their books earlier than their expected release dates due to the rise in consumption.

Reader preferences have changed, as many want to escape the glum reality. People tend to find solace in fiction, lifestyle, self-help, and even cooking titles. Writers who have set their stories in 2020 must now decide whether to include the COVID-19 outbreak, yet others have taken the quarantine as a romance trope.

Whatever be the new normal, the publishing industry will always thrive. People find comfort in stories, and reading and/or writing will always remain a habit. COVID-19 might have altered the preferred format and genre, but the reading community has grown.

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1. “Has Publishing Benefited from COVID-19?” BRINK, accessed October 4, 2020,
2. “How the Pandemic Is Affecting Book Publishing Industry,” NPR, accessed October 4, 2020,
3. “Paging through Pandemic: Reading Gets a COVID Lift,” Christian Science Monitor, accessed October 4, 2020,
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