When the COVID-19 pandemic caused bookstores across the United States to close indefinitely, many publishers decided to push back select publication dates for their titles in order to give them the best chance to succeed in the marketplace. Three publishers shared in interviews how they went about making these decisions and how they’ve approached marketing newly released titles during this time.
Emily Bestler, EVP and publisher of Simon & Schuster imprint Emily Bestler Books, said that every Simon & Schuster imprint has changed some publication dates. The process started in mid-March, after the publisher made the decisions for workers to stay at home. Bestler said that since demand for books by well-known authors has been high during the pandemic, some books had their publication dates moved up, such as novel Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner (Atria), which was published two weeks early, on May 5. Other Atria titles shifted many months forward, such as essay collection Keep Moving by Maggie Smith, which moved from May 5 to October 6, and memoir Everybody (Else) is Perfect by Gabrielle Korn and nonfiction Bad Medicine by Charlotte Bismuth, which both moved from June 2020 to January 2021 publication dates.
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“For books whose authors we planned to tour, it made sense to move some of those back and wait for travel restrictions to ease, and stores to reopen,” said Bestler. “Certain non-fiction titles dealt with subjects that would perhaps be overlooked during this period or were heavily dependent on media coverage which is no longer available, at least for the time being.” Bestler said the process was done “in collaboration with production, publishing, sales, publicity, editorial and author and agent.”
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