A Guidebook Editor’s Dilemma

From Publishers Weekly:

Since the world stopped traveling several months ago, I’ve been trying to find the way forward for my guidebooks. The future of travel is anything but clear: countries are tightening their borders, and some U.S. states that have reduced their coronavirus infection rates are restricting visitors from other states where the pandemic continues to wreak havoc.

I’m editor-in-chief for North America of 111 Places That You Must Not Miss, a guidebook series for locals and experienced travelers. Our books always sell best in the cities and regions they cover, and in many ways, our approach is well suited to a moment when people are planning staycations and local getaways.

But virtually all of our retail outlets were vastly diminished for several months. Bookstores, gift shops, and museum shops were closed due to the pandemic, and major e-commerce sites deprioritized books in order to direct resources toward shipping hand sanitizer, surface cleaners, and other crucial supplies.

My colleagues and I knew that our sales reports were going to be grim. But the difference between our figures for Q1 and Q2 2020 and those from the first half of last year is shocking nonetheless. When everyone went home in mid-March, we had several books either just released or on their way to our warehouse. It broke my heart to see talented, enthusiastic writers and photographers miss out on the once-in-a-lifetime experience of celebrating their first books and signing their first autographs. Normally, a book release is a time for parties with friends and family, book talks, TV and radio interviews, and a wonderful sense of accomplishment. But those events have been postponed.

Where our books once might have garnered good media placements, in recent months our press releases have yielded more out-of-office messages than interview requests. Many journalists have gotten sick or been laid off or furloughed, just like those in so many other professions.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly