The Printed Book is Still Thriving

July 27, 2020

Written by guest blogger Matt Baehr.

I had the pleasure of writing an article in May about Book Manufacturing during the Covid-19 pandemic. We are now in July and things are continuing to evolve. Schools are starting to make their decisions about fall classes. The American Academy of Pediatrics has pushed for schools to open with students physically present. In my home state of Florida, the state Department of Education said that all schools should be physically open 5 days a week. But with the number of cases in Florida climbing steadily, we shall see if that actually happens.

Writing the article was not an easy thing for me to do. My job may be to run the association for book manufacturers, but that does not mean that I am a book manufacturer. In fact, I am far from it. I am an association professional. My job is, and has been, to run associations. I help create benefits and services for members of a particular industry. Generally, the idea is to do something that will better the industry that individual members probably couldn’t do for themselves. That could be because it is cost prohibitive or time prohibitive. Either way, my job is to make my members’ jobs easier/better/more profitable. Needless to say, trying to aid an industry that has been in upheaval because of a global pandemic has been quite a challenge. The good news has been that our industry and its members have been up to the challenge.

For our industry, the good news is that printed book sales are up, year over year. As people are staying home, they are looking to read up on topics that are greatly affecting us all today: politics, race, and other social issues. Amazon has stopped its policy of deprioritizing books, which is helping to spark sales as people no longer have to wait a long time for the title they are searching for. I personally just bought two books in the last three days and was disappointed when the book was delayed a day.

In speaking with book manufacturers, the consensus is that the fall is going to be very busy. Books that were supposed to launch earlier in the year will hit in the fall along with titles already planned for that period. Add to that a continuing uncertain public health crisis and a massive national election, and I would dare to guess that most folks will be happy to have more new book options to help them escape from the rest of 2020. I for one just may curl up with those two new books for the next six months.

Matt Baehr is the Executive Director of the Book Manufacturers’ Institute (BMI), the non-profit trade association that serves the book printing, binding, and distribution industry.

His latest article in Journal of Scholarly Publishing entitled “Book Manufacturing in the COVID-19 Era” is free to read for a limited time here.

The UTP Journals blog features guest posts from our authors. The opinions expressed in these posts may not necessarily represent those of UTP Journals and their clients.

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