Spread the Word and The Bookseller launch survey for small presses


Spread the Word and The Bookseller, the key British publishing news organisation, have launched a survey of small independent presses to assess the financial pressures they are under as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.

A number of small publishers have contacted both organisations over the past month in order to share concern about the situation, with many “uniquely impacted” by the loss of high street bookshops and the ability to run events.

The survey is aimed at shedding light on their predicament and comes as a number of small presses look to launch crowd-funders in order to ensure their survival. The Bookseller reported at the beginning of April that independent publishers were facing an “existential crisis” during the pandemic lockdown, with the presses agreeing that government measures such as business rate relief and loans were of limited use to them, although many were applying for the new funding streams, including the Arts Council England’s (ACE) £50m emergency pot.

Ruth Harrison, director at Spread the Word, said: “Independent presses are a critical part of the UK’s literature and publishing ecosystem–from discovering and nurturing debut writers through to creating new markets and readers. They are often at the forefront of taking risks with their titles alongside creating change in the industry. The impact of Covid-19 is potentially devastating for these presses with the loss of markets and existing emergency support not being able to be accessed. We urgently need to get a picture of how Covid-19 is affecting this essential part of our industry.”

Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller, added: “We are very concerned that small and independent presses are not getting the attention they merit, with many uniquely impacted by Covid-19. Many of these publishers have no staff to furlough, and will not be receiving any kind of boost from digital sales or from supermarkets. With the closure of high street bookshops their route to consumers has vanished, and their ability to generate sales through events has been pulled from beneath them. This survey will help the industry assess their needs.”

To take the survey, visit www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/smallpresses.

Published 5 May 2020