Whilst you may have utilised your new-found free time in the midst of quarantine by hunkering down with a stack of novels, the publishing world was catapulted into unprecedented territory.
With bookshops shutting their doors for the foreseeable future, many of those employed in the industry working from home, and literary events being forced online, an industry that typically relied on face-to-face interaction was restricted almost entirely to the confines of the internet. Whilst festivals, events, billboards, bookshop displays and so on were fantastic marketing and publicity resources in pre-COVID times, with everyone cooped up inside, publishers had to really think outside the box, and as a result of such restrictions, the release dates of many titles were pushed back to later in the year.
Fast-forward to August, where many of these pushed back titles are now due to be published in September. In fact, on 3rd September 2020, almost 600 new titles will be released in the UK, which is a staggering increase of a third in relation to last year. At first glance, this may seem like an exciting prospect, but there are a multitude of issues that come with this avalanche of new titles.
Firstly, many of these new releases won’t even have the chance to be displayed in bookshops. With an enormous amount of competition, it will ultimately become a contest of popularity, where authors with a larger online following or pre-existing popularity, many of the larger and more well-known publishers, or those with a greater marketing budget, will nab the top spots. This in itself is not an issue, but it could mean that releases from smaller or independent publishers will be pushed to the side-lines, and voices with fascinating and important stories to tell may not be heard. This point applies to both larger chain bookstores and independent bookstores. With a large number of titles to filter through, bookshop owners are in for a real challenge when choosing which books to prioritise and designate the desirable shelf space to.
With the abandonment of typical marketing strategies, and the vast majority of these 600 titles not being displayed in bookshops, these new releases will not be given enough exposure for curious browsers. How many times have you wandered into a bookshop with no particular purpose, but been drawn to a gorgeously designed cover, exceptional display, fascinating blurb, or even just asked the bookseller for a personal recommendation?
With a wave of titles heading our way on the dreaded September 3rd, and simply no means to accommodate them all, this could be very bad news for minority writers, forecasting a bleak future for the publishing industry.
Words by Hollie McDevitt
Want more Books content from The Indiependent? Click here
Support The Indiependent
We’re trying to raise £200 a month to help cover our operational costs. This includes our ‘Writer of the Month’ awards, where we recognise the amazing work produced by our contributor team. If you’ve enjoyed reading our site, we’d really appreciate it if you could donate to The Indiependent. Whether you can give £1 or £10, you’d be making a huge difference to our small team.