As of the end of February, the 27 respondents employed 202 people in publishing jobs.
85% of respondents have not had to make lay-offs as a result of Covid-19. The vast majority of those lay-offs that were made are considered to be temporary lay-offs.
74% of respondents have not had to make salary cuts.
64% of respondents have deferred some spring/summer books to autumn, and 56% have deferred some 2020 books to 2021.
In total respondents had planned to publish 376 titles in 2020 as of February. Post Covid, the numbers of books to be published by the respondents in 2020 is 319 – a drop of about 15%.
20% of respondents had cancelled outright some books planned for 2020 or 2021.
Rights and Travel
Only 20% of respondents felt that their rights income had suffered as a result of the cancellation of London Book Fair. Only 12% of respondents planned to attend Frankfurt Book Fair if it goes ahead.
Among the concerns raised by respondents regarding the impact of travel restrictions on their business were:
- Closure of bookshops and low subs due to reps’ inability to travel to shops
- Cancellation of festivals and other literary events impacting on marketing exposure for new books, book sales and author incomes.
- Cancellation of book fairs not only impacts on rights income but also on sales income as these fairs are often used for relationship building with international buyers.
- Inability of some authors to travel (particularly those cocooning or based abroad) impacts on ability to launch books.
- Meetings, both internal and with usual business contacts, moving online to video conference.
76% of respondents would be interested in attending paid online training provided by Publishing Ireland. The main areas of interest were digital marketing (68%), audiobooks (63%) and design/technical (53%). The board is now exploring options for providing training in these areas via video conferencing.
Aside from the impact on publishing programmes, other plans have had to be put on hold, including events, partnership / funded projects and, significantly, hiring of new staff. This is not a good time to be looking for a job in publishing.
When asked how working from home was going, the responses were mixed. Some found it easy, or already worked from home so there was no difference. Most were happy with no commute and many will integrate video conferencing into their work practices even after returning to the office, resulting in reduced costs on travel, etc. Others were concerned that it was less efficient, people’s set up was sometimes inadequate in terms of space, access to books and equipment, etc, and inability to effectively train newer staff members remotely. It was also felt that simultaneously caring for children and vulnerable adults could prove a distraction, and working hours were necessarily less in sync because of that, making spontaneous communication with colleagues more challenging.
Reduced sales was the overwhelming response to the question of what worried respondents most. Some also elaborated on the difficulties of planning and commissioning in such an uncertain environment.