I believe the answer to this question is something that worries writers--and for good reason. Print books in particular are affected. In NJ where I live, the libraries are shut. It is doubtful that librarians are ordering new print books at this time. This is an important part of the publishing business. Brick and mortar bookstores are shut down as well, being deemed non-essential during the pandemic. Virtual book tours are now in demand. But how effective are they?
Might readers be ordering more e-books? Theoretically that should be the case—but is it? Time will tell.
THE WRITER in its current newsletter observes: “A well-known fact of publishing: Sales of romances rise during tough times. When life is uncertain, most people want something to distract them, not remind them of the unpleasant things happening in their lives. The question is how long, if ever, people will yearn for distraction. Could pandemic books become a thing in the near term? Or are we a decade away from literarily grappling with the outbreak? History suggests the latter…The majority of people aren’t ready to read fiction or nonfiction focused on COVID-19.”
Anne Bogel, who hosts the book-focused podcast “What Should I Read Next?” observes that most of the readers she hears from want a pleasant distraction. People dealing with death, financial issues, and job insecurity in real life probably don’t want to read about those things in novels.
So should we be writing light, fluffy fiction with humor and whimsy? Is this all that publishers will be considering if they are, in fact, considering anything new at all?
Many publishers are currently on hiatus. Some of the small indie publishers have already been driven out of business.
Several fellow authors have written to let me know that their books which were scheduled for release have now been postponed for at least several months, others indefinitely. Fear of the virus currently dominates every aspect of our lives. Many millions of Americans have lost their jobs due to the lockdown of our country. Will these people want to sit at home and purchase e-books to read? Unfortunately, unemployment benefits last just so long.
But let me not be the author of gloom and doom mentality. Hopefully, the worldwide economy will open once again which is already starting to happen and the pandemic will eventually pass into the annals of the history books.
Americans are nothing if not resilient and adaptable. Perhaps the publishing industry will prove to be as well.
Your thoughts and opinions welcome here.