noun: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness
I cannot believe that we’ve already finished over a week of the new year! For a year that felt like it was never going to end, 2020 sure did “zoom” by – and I’m not too sure how I feel about it. To start things off, I’d like to first say: Happy Belated New Year! We’ve survived twelve whole months of nonstop struggle, and I think we’re all ready for a year of replenishment and growth. If there’s anything to appreciate from last year, it’s that we’ve proven, once again, how resilient we can be as the human race. We’ve learned to adapt and overcome obstacles throughout history, and 2020 was no different. However, it’s important to know that despite all the trauma and hardship the year brought, 2020 did allow people to discover (or rediscover) talents and hobbies they never would have tried; it was a year that got people to reconnect with the world around them, rather than stare at it through a screen; and most of all, it taught us the importance of human connection and how to appreciate our family and friends.
I say all that and then look at the publishing industry: rather than take the heavy blows that came with pandemic closures, the Canadian publishing industry learned to adapt. It realized that going digital was important now more than ever, and I’m happy to say that it delivered. I did a little research and found out that, while many bookstores were embracing the online approach before Covid-19 hit, the surge in activity for the online platform jumped when the pandemic did hit. Yes, indie bookstores faced the sudden hit to business as the rest of the economy when the closures first began, but it didn’t take long for traffic to pick up online. It’s really reassuring to see that Canadians truly care about books and are willing to support their bookstores no matter what. In fact, a black-owned bookstore in Brampton, called Knowledge Bookstore, saw an increase in support through their online shop during the BLM protests.
My research also led me to Bookmanager – a point of sale and inventory software that helps North American indie bookstores manage their online sales. The software also saw an increase of traffic during the pandemic. I checked out the Bookmanager website and found that it had a lot of helpful tools – not only for bookstores, but for publishers as well – that would help booksellers stay in top shape for business. I also believe that this pandemic was a stepping-stone for a lot of booksellers to adapt to an online delivery method if they hadn’t already so that they may thrive in the market going forward.
It wasn’t just the bookstores that had to switch to an online model though – one of the biggest zine events also saw their venue switch to the digital realm: I’m talking about Canzine! Canzine 2020 would not go down with the pandemic, and so it adapted to an online event that still saw so many incredible contributors and so many wonderful chapbooks and zines. It was a lot of fun navigating through the artwork, and I might say it made it a little easier since you could take in the fantastic talent from the comfort of your own home! The only downside (and this is NOT the fault of the event whatsoever) was that I couldn’t get my hands on the zines I bought until a month later. That did, however, make for a great holiday surprise, so am I really complaining there?
Overall, I believe that we survived and came out of 2020 with a few battle scars. Some of us may not have made it to see the new year, but those of us that did can appreciate what we have and know that the Canadian publishing industry is one tough cookie. Much like most of you all, I hope that this year treats us a little better, and if it doesn’t, well we know that we can fight to make it so. Until next time!
Bookmanager, 2021. https://bookmanager.com/tbm/. Accessed 2 Jan 2020.
Glasner E. “Indie booksellers thriving during pandemic thanks to new ways of connecting with customers.” CBC, 12 Nov 2020. https://www.cbc.ca/news/entertainment/pandemic - independent-bookstores-1.5797276. Accessed 12 Dec 2020.
Henighan, S. “How COVID-19 Infected the Publishing Industry.” The Walrus, 14 Jul 2020. https://thewalrus.ca/how-covid-19-infected-the-publishing-industry/. Accessed 14 Dec 2020.
“Virtual Canzine 2020 is Live!” Broken Pencil, 3 Oct 2020. https://brokenpencil.com/news/virtual-canzine-2020/. Accessed 12 Dec 2020.