2020 was an extraordinary year. Bookshops were closed for much of it, learning became increasingly online, and many important events were postponed or cancelled. The impact of the pandemic was felt by all of us on a personal and professional level. Yet despite all of this, reading in lockdown grew and many more people sought the pleasure of a good book.
As our members had to grapple with transforming their businesses, the Publishers Association’s aim has been to provide the best possible support and resources, but also to provide a direct line of communication to government at such an uncertain time. To do so we shared regular updates on government announcements and collected information about what publishers were doing to mitigate the impact of the crisis, as well as what they needed to get through it.
We were able to call for additional industry support, successfully securing the early implementation of the VAT cut on e-publications and more flexible furlough among other things. While I know that many publishers have really struggled over the past year, it is my hope that the actions we took as an association and the advice we provided this year have helped our members in part to weather this storm and prepare for brighter times ahead.
We are incredibly proud to represent this industry, but especially in a year that has presented so many challenges and needed so many solutions — many of which came from publishing.
By any standard, Covid-19 on its own was a lot to contend with. But beyond the pandemic — if there can be such a thing — our policy agenda was full. A Brexit deal struck at the very end of the year required a rapid assessment to provide comprehensive advice on its impact on publishing and how best to respond. We did so with welcome support from Publishers’ Licensing Services and we hope that the Brexit Review helped the industry grapple with an enormous shift in trading conditions.
Over the past year there have been a number of notable moments: from removing VAT on e-publications in March 2020, to delivering virtual member briefings with high profile individuals such as UK High Level Climate Action Champion for COP26, Nigel Topping, and publishing key industry reports on AI, audiobooks, as well as our annual statistics Yearbook.
If all of that wasn’t enough, we have continued our big-tech roundtable discussions and with online retail platforms in particular. This has led to some real progress in how publishers’ content is being dealt with online and we are very grateful for all of those members who have supported this work as it is finally bearing fruit.
This year, while members have hopefully seen the value the Publishers Association offers amid turbulent times, we have been reminded of the immense value our members offer society. From world class education materials to cutting edge peer-reviewed research, to the enormous comfort of fiction for all ages. We are incredibly proud to represent this industry, but especially in a year that has presented so many challenges and needed so many solutions — many of which came from publishing. We look forward to continuing to work together over the years ahead as our success is dependent on the ongoing support and engagement of our members.
This was originally published in the Publishers Association’s Annual Report 2020.