Meet the Exhibitor: The Paperback Shop

A Q&A with our Spring Conference supporter The Paperback Shop

1. How can you help independent publishers become better businesses in 2020?

There’s no doubt that 2020 has been the toughest year on record for many publishers. Everyone is making difficult decisions, and I’m sure many plans we had for 2020 have now morphed into something quite different.

Independent publishers by their very nature are adaptable, agile and energetic, and I’m sure they will do all they can to make their businesses even better than before. My top tip would be to look further afield and not just focus on leading retailers. These past few months have shown that Amazon will not always be the bookseller that publishers need, and many others, PBS included, have really stepped up to support publishers at this very challenging time.

To PBS all our publishers are special. Whether you have one title or thousands we will do all we can to make sure that our global customers have access to your books. We know what it’s like to be independent and we are proud of our roots—and we also know how difficult it can be when you don’t have big teams and budgets to help you along the way. PBS will not charge for any marketing support and we actively encourage our publisher partners to provide us with material for social media so we can share this with all our followers.

2. Beyond the coronavirus crisis, what is the biggest issue and the biggest opportunity in your part of the publishing world at the moment?

I think we all agree that we’ll need to adapt to a new normal for the foreseeable future. Things that we once took for granted are just not going to be possible.

I worry that some publishers, retailers, and wholesalers are not going to be able to survive into 2021. Bricks and mortar shops have been closed for weeks, publishing schedules have stalled and marketing and publicity campaigns have been put on hold. More than ever we will all need to support one another.

In terms of opportunities, for us at The Paperback Shop, we have a great deal to look forward to. We are equally an online retailer and a wholesaler. We have been fortunate—if that is the right word—that during the coronavirus outbreak we have been able to help publishers ensure consumers still have access to their titles, especially when no other suppliers were operating. We have seen tremendous growth in lifestyle, education, children’s and DIY titles, along with puzzles and craft items over this time.

Academic, education and school titles have always been big markets for us. With so much uncertainty around when schools, colleges, universities will be able to welcome students back, the need to access these titles has never been greater, and we see this area growing again during 2020 and into 2021.   

We list more than 11 million titles in our customer feeds, but there are still so many publishers that we are not working with. Consumer habits have changed since March and we see a future where customers are going to be prepared to wait a little longer for something they really want. We have been forced to slow down and I’m sure this will continue post-coronavirus.

3. What are you most looking forward to about the IPG's virtual Spring Conference in June?

I am really looking forward to seeing the engagement across our industry as we all come together in the toughest professional challenge many of us have faced. 

The publishing industry and all associated with it are a resilient and pragmatic collective. They will embrace the fact that the IPG is putting on this essential conference, in spite of the challenges—bringing something big to life in such a short period of time. Having been lucky enough to attend a number of IPG Conferences in the past during my life as a publisher, I know that the IPG team will ensure the content is excellent and accessible, despite not being able to hold a physical event. As a virtual supplier we already embrace the delights that this can bring, and we can’t wait to be involved in this ground-breaking event.

Visit The Paperback Shop website.