Publishing in a Pandemic

February 11, 2021

It’s often said that the pandemic has accelerated changes already underway in business, and that’s proven especially true for book publishing. Even though the industry is often considered slow and not as susceptible to technological change (and print just enjoyed its most robust sales in more than a decade), it’s been a transformative time for the business of books.

The people who started or increased their digital consumption or online buying habits may not return to pre-pandemic behaviors. That’s potentially good news for self-publishing authors (who mainly focus on sales and marketing through online channels), digital distributors, Amazon, Bookshop, and anyone else who saw their business get a bump in 2020. But it will likely be a challenging future for brick-and-mortar bookstores, and it will change what books get discovered in the future.

The pandemic continues to speed up a slow but steady sales shift to backlist books and smaller publishers. In the end, no one will go unaffected—not authors, editors, marketers, or booksellers. Jane will discuss the big-picture changes still unfolding, the questions it raises for the industry, and what to watch for in the months and years ahead.

Jane Friedman is a full-time entrepreneur (since 2014) and has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. She is the co-founder of The Hot Sheet, the essential publishing industry newsletter for authors, which was named 2020 Media Outlet of the Year by Digital Book World.