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Sunday, January 3, 2021

COVID-19, a name that has turned our lives upside down, we are all trying to meet the challenges that the pandemic has brought us. It is not just the individuals facing the hardships of handling these unprecedented times; even different business institutions and industries are having a hard time adapting to the sudden changes and the new-normal way of operating.


While a portion of us wants to fight the pandemic, there is another part of us wanting to stabilize the economic crisis and accustom to the changes happening around us individually and as a society, and there is this the third part of us wanting to enjoy the abundant amount of time left with us. Almost every industry has chosen to work remotely, giving so much free time that people have chosen to become lockdown chefs, YouTubers, Bloggers, you name it.





The pandemic was not kind to big business institutions and flourishing industries. Even the most prominent firms and facilities have hardships in handling these unprecedented times, so is the publishing industry. The Publishing industry is not so ideal for remote works and counts on every contributor to work directly. From printing to selling books, many human interventions are needed, a problem for the print industry. This is not the only challenge that the publishers have to face; there is a lot more. We will see them later in this article.


Given the free time, many people's natural choice to spend time reading books, which were eventually knocked off the essential category during the lockdown. Now, having the lockdown relaxed in many places and the halt in the books' selling is resumed, what is the impact of Covid-19 on the publishing industries? Let's discuss it.



A Surge in E-books -


Digital platforms took over physical books for quite some time now, but the pandemic has paved the way for a sudden surge in e-books and audiobooks consumption. However, the lockdown is tranquil in most places; book lovers favor reading online to forthcoming the bookstores in the terror of being exposed to the disease.


Also, the so long followed protocol of releasing the e-book after the paperback has been broken in this pandemic, few books have been released as an e-book which is to be compiled and released as a physical book later, several being released already.


Booksellers say the purchase rate has doubled from before the pandemic, and the rising rate is dominated by e-books and audiobooks. It is expected that this increase will continue beyond the pandemic.


Though the reason for e-book consumption is new-normal habits, experts say that this might be the future of the publishing industry where most of the physical books will be replaced by e-books.


It is a happy note that people have turned to books, but it is also essential to not forget that this rise in e-book consumption is likely to put print works at stake. Publishers and small-scale booksellers who depend on print books have the possibilities of being washed away in the digital tide.


All sudden changes come with a price. Similarly, even the rise in e-books has led to a drastic increase in pirated books and torrent downloads, which is a severe threat to online retailers. Many online sellers are forced to give generous discount offers to fight back piracy, which will be a setback in the future. These changes are not limited to any locality and are found worldwide.

 


The Pandemic and Authors -


When we talk about the publishing industry, we inevitably talk about the authors. Many authors have found different ways to stay connected with their readers. Most of them took social media and various digital platforms to release snippets and quick reads to put together their readers.


Releases of new books were a challenging task this year. Few authors opted for a virtual launch while a few postponed. With delayed book launches, title release waited for cover releases, the pandemic was hard on the authors generally, but harder on the debutant authors. The famous authors kept in touch with their readers by posting short-reads and quick reads, although the lockdown, but the newbie authors who had planned launches were to face tough times.


These issues are now smoothed out a bit. However, the virus has not gone yet, and the authors are continuing to rely on digital platforms, which are proving to be a more successful way to connect with the base.


Few authors had released a lockdown series that was initially posted on social media handles. Releasing an e-book or a printed book, authors remain close to their readers as long as they provide quality content.



Small Scale Publishers and Online Retailers -


The pandemic has taken its toll on everyone but, worse is the cases of business and individuals who run on a small scale with limited customer reach. Large scale publishers were able to migrate their sales to online platforms, though the change was languid, they were having options in hand.


That was not the case with small scale publishers. They were not able to reach the customers due to the lack of finance to invest in e-commerce, and few that managed to step into the digital platforms were not able to compete with the existing sellers who had got the hang of digital marketing for quite some time now.


Few publishers managed to sell copies through their websites and in response to the orders obtained from the customers calling indirectly, but those were not enough sales to make ends meet.


Most of the small-scale publishers are dependent on the various book fairs conducted at different locations. As you know, the pandemic didn't allow us the luxury of organizing such significant events where usually thousands of customers gather to meet, buy, and network with the publishers.


Book fairs are not just for the publishers. Even many booksellers depend on them as these are the places where they get a lot of sales, as only book lovers walk into one such fair, and it is definite that he buys.


You can know the importance of book fairs if you talk to a publisher. On average, they say a publisher takes part in 300 different book fairs at various locations and occasions. So, this cancellation of book fairs for nearly the past one year is an irreplaceable loss for the publishing industry, especially small-scale publishers and sellers.


However, online retailers have had good sales reach with people developing a new interest in e-books. They managed to form online communities and organized digital gatherings to promote and increase their sales. Few individuals also started book blogs where they review and affiliate market books, which increased online sales.



The Print Media -


When we say the publishing industry, it doesn't limit itself to books, even magazines, and newspapers come under the publishing industry.


The transformation of print media to digital platforms is quite a visible change. You may not be surprised to see nearly every magazine and newspaper having apps and websites where digital articles are being posted from time to time.


Having no liberty to work from home, Journalists and editors had to face a hard time working amidst the virus spread, but that didn't stop the print media from functioning but limited it.


Even the consumers who generally rely on the hard copy newspapers and magazines turned to digital reading just like with books;. However, this is the required change in containing the virus; there is the fear of adapting to this habit. Once a pattern is created, there is no going back.


It is going to be difficult for both the newspapers and book publishers to bring back the lost charisma to printed copies, as the e-copies are more attractive with videos, Gifs, images, and above of all is the ability to follow a personalized reading.


With algorithms and data from everywhere, digital platforms seem to be closer to readers than printed copies.


However, one could not deny that there is a separate fan base for the print copies which still love to feel the touch and smell of printed books and papers they read; the worrying points this category is receding.



Future Trends of the Publishing Industry -


The publishing industry changes, or any other industry for that matter, will not be gone along with the virus. We need to know that though the virus may be gone in the future, the changes are permanent. It is only wise to act and adapt to the expected end.


Evolution is inevitable in any field. Even the publishers had to change according to each phase, and the expected is the digital era. The Digital era of books is not new, they were just taking off, and the virus acted as a catalyst to the change.


Let us hope for better development and for the virus to be gone for good, leaving the best practices for us.

 

 

 

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