2020 was a tough year for us all, but the continuous lockdown and employment cuts had a huge impact on the publishing industry. There's a lot going on behind the scenes that an average Barnes and Noble shopper might not know about, so let's pull back the curtain.
1. Cancellation of Events - The cancellation of in-person events like book signings and literary festivals was a hard loss, for authors, readers, and institutions, but while it led to a lot of shifting in the industry, it also opened doors to virtual events. Virtual events are a huge benefit to those who were unable to attend in-person events before the pandemic was even in our sights. There's been a lot of talk about what the future will hold in terms of virtual events when this is all over, but the prognosis looks promising.
2. Delayed Releases - Back when we all thought the pandemic might be over in the fall, publishing houses started to delay the releases of their spring and summer publications. This seemed like the right thing to do at the time to give their authors the best chance at bookstores reopening and promotional events going on as planned, but now that that's not happened, publishing schedules are taking a hit as publishers struggle to decide what books should receive top marketing when so many are being released at the same time.
3. Lost Jobs - Just like in every other industry during this time, the publishing industry has had to make cuts. Prominent people at large publishing houses have lost their jobs due to waffling sales numbers and a downward trend in acquisitions, and it's unsure at this particular moment what the future will look like, especially in the wake of the Simon & Schuster/Penguin Random House merger that happened in the fall.
4. Book Sales - While early on, book sales struggled to hold on as bookstores across the nation had to close their doors, with time, things seemed to go back to normal and services like digital library loans and e-books made a big comeback when people realized they had more time on their hands than they were prepared for. Throw in shows like Bridgerton, which had everyone racing to get their hands on a copy, and it seems book sales will survive covid after all.
It's hard to say what the publishing industry will look like on the other side of this. This has been a changing, struggling market for a very long time, and it's hard to say if 2020 was the thing to finally kill it stone dead or whether our beloved stories will make a giant comeback.