Anne Schroën, director of the Dutch Booksellers Association, has written an open letter to the country's policymakers, culture sector experts, readers and the wider public, highlighting the precarious position of the country's booksellers--who fall between the culture and retail sectors--due to severe Covid-19 measures, the European & International Booksellers Federation's NewsFlash reported.
"Culture in the Netherlands is under unprecedented pressure," Schroën wrote. "The entire system is faltering, and it is only a matter of time before blows with far-reaching and irreversible effect will occur. This also applies to the book industry, where bookstores are closest to the reader and the buyer. Keep our city hearts alive, where booksellers play a very important and unique role, precisely because they are both retailers and cultural centers."
Book industry employees in the U.K. "have expressed worries about staff freezes and reduced opportunities for promotion and development," according to a recent survey by the Bookseller, marking the anniversary of the first Covid-19 lockdown.
"The social impact has been great," a London literary agent said. "Assistants not growing up together and learning about the industry and meeting each other. The inability just to drop into somebody's office and chat things through, to work through problems. The inability to bond with new staff. These are far greater problems for us than the predicted financial issues."
A publishing staffer noted that the "move to home working is good, because it should make things more accessible to the industry, but I remain concerned the people being hired for entry level roles are [now] people who are moving within the industry and are seen as safer, more experienced bets who will require less training. The suspension of work experience and internship programs is also concerning--young people learn so much from just being in an office environment and seeing how things work."
Many survey respondents said they felt less likely to take professional risks and change jobs because of lockdown, the Bookseller wrote.
"[I'd be] more risk averse, having lived through so many changes, with the library closing then opening then closing then opening, it has been stressful," a librarian said. "There is comfort in the known at the moment." A publishing employee said: "I think I would really struggle moving to a new team remotely and not having the social aspect of meeting the team."
Some respondents, however, said that the last year had made them want to step out of their comfort zone, including a publishing house staffer who was "less risk-averse as I feel I want to make the most of opportunities and get the most out of each situation that I'm in."
Mysterious moves: In England, Bearded Badger Publishing Company tweeted: "Imagine if someone took this unit on in Belper (Derbyshire) with a view to opening a small bookshop with a real focus on showcasing the indie / small press community, whilst also using it as a base for a small press???? Hmmmm.... Thinking face."
Meanwhile in Canada, a Twitter thread from Woozles Bookstore, Halifax, N.S., hinted at big changes ahead: "Woozles is proud to be Canada's Oldest Children's Bookstore and we aim to hold that title for a long time to come. With that in mind, we have some exciting news and wanted our faithful Woozles family to share in our journey.
"These past months of adapting to Covid have forced us to reflect on many things including something that's become increasingly apparent. Our current home--our sunny yellow shop with the green door on Birmingham Street--is no longer the best spot for us to survive and thrive. It's time for us to move. We're looking forward to finding a new, fresh spot for Woozles that is entirely awesome--bright and cheerful, family friendly in every way, and easily accessible for strollers, wheelchairs, scooters, and you!
"You, our customers, have been nothing short of INCREDIBLE and have been integral in our success story so far. We simply cannot thank you enough and we hope you will follow us on this upcoming adventure. So here's to chapter 43... it'll likely be an epic one, so stay tuned as we release more details in the coming weeks and months. Love, The Woozles." --Robert Gray