Thursday, June 4, 2020

Are Books Surviving In 2020?


Folks, some good news. The book industry is actually holding its own despite an ugly confluence of factors that could easily destroy it. Take a look at the numbers.

Despite bookstores in lock-down for several months, despite people being sick, fearful, and broke as a result of the pandemic, and despite recent unrest across the country, book sales are surviving. With any luck, and as things improve, the second half of the year could be a boom time for books.

According to Publishers Weekly, sales in mid-May jumped. Print sales were up 11% from a similar week a year ago. YTD, print sales are only down a half a percent. Imagine if all of the stores were fully open and today’s 40 million unemployed were working again.

It turns out, people love books and despite running to spend record hours online, or Netflixing, or video-gaming, people still read books. Young adult non-fiction print sales are up 19% for the year and juvenile non-fiction print books are 26% ahead of a year ago.

On the other hand, bookstores are hurting. Being boarded up means Amazon is eating their lunch. What corona did to stores is now being amplified by violent looting. Things need to open up soon.

Further, rents have gone up over time, pricing many indie stores out. Malls see less traffic – even before corona – which means bookstores are becoming places one must purposely seek out and not a place that just gets discovered.

We need some PPP for the book industry. From bookstores and libraries to book publishers and literary arts centers, America needs to provide support. Without each of us patronizing the arts, purchasing books  or donating to libraries, our intellectual capital will go bust.

Maybe corona has taught us new ways to sell and market books. And if we can harness the Internet to achieve greater book reading, awesome. But we need a physical world to market books as well, We need store shelves to be browsed with recommendations from store clerks. We need places to gather to read and discuss books, and to meet authors, and to see fellow readers. Our community of readers desperately craves having a place to go, not just to order from.

There is a backlog of books to be published in the fall and winter, books that were delayed and displaced by corona. This second half of the year could be explosive and put the book industry back on track. It will take some heavy lifting from authors, publishers, libraries, schools, and consumers -- but we can keep the book world alive.

I am optimistic and opportunistic. The book world can grow again and bounce back from a hellish spring. Keep buying books – and support the book ecosystem now and always!

Please See These Posts

It Is Essential For The Book World To Re-Open

Why We Need Our Indie Bookstores Now

We Shall Defeat The Coronavirus Epidemic

How Authors Must Promote Books During A Plague

A Book Marketing Pandemic Playbook

Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this 
terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2020. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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