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The Effect COVID-19 Has Had on Publishing

As we find ourselves still in the middle of the pandemic, it is hard not to think about what it was like before and how things have changed and how each individual has been affected, whether in their personal or professional lives. Businesses in different industries have had to change and adapt to keep going. However, unlike some industries, the publishing industry has actually seen growth amid the pandemic.

Like many others, the publishing industry has seen its share of employee, staffing, and supply chain issues. These are areas that most in the industry will continue to deal with as the pandemic continues. Yet, unlike most other industries, the growth that has been experienced is nothing but good.

According to Cliff Guren, Thad McIlroy, and Steven Sieck and their article “COVID-19 and Book Publishing: Impacts and Insights for 2021,” “Trade sales in 2020 were almost uniformly ahead of 2019, and in several categories unit sales were up over 20 percent through mid-December.”

This is due to publishing being a part of the arts. In the beginning of the pandemic, individuals turned to the arts to keep busy, distract themselves, and find enjoyment, especially when we were all in lockdown.

Additionally, according to Statista and their stats on “Unit sales of printed books in the United States from 2004 to 2021,” “Data showing how many books were sold in 2021 revealed that the printed book market remains healthy: a total of 825.75 million units were sold that year among outlets which reported to the source, marking year-over-year growth of 8.9 percent. Trade paperbacks remained the dominant format with over 450 thousand print units sold.”

Furthermore, specific areas in publishing, trade publishing to be exact, are thriving even more than others. When individuals sought out material to read, they sought books that could be considered predictable and unrelated to what was happening in the real world. According to Rachel King and their Fortune article “The romance novel sales boom continues,” “The predictability of these novels makes for literary comfort food, one that many readers craved in abundance during some very turbulent times.”

King went on to further state, “Unit sales for romance books topped 47 million in the twelve months ending March 2021 (including print and ebook sales combined), representing an increase of 24 percent from the previous year, according to NPD BookScan. Romance accounted for 18 percent of adult fiction unit sales in the twelve months ending March 2021, making it the second most popular fiction genre overall—second only to general adult fiction—which accounted for 30 percent of adult fiction sales in the same time frame.”

This is not to say that other genres were not sought out. Genres like mysteries and thrillers also soared like romance. Overall, the publishing industry continues to thrive and the data is showing that it is going to continue to do so. So, even though the pandemic has changed so much and continues to change things, this can be considered one positive that has come from it.

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