The Bookseller – News – Covid had a ‘lasting legacy’ on freelance web development

Steven Pryse of Pickled Pepper Books said the challenges of selling books during the pandemic have accelerated the development of websites for many independent booksellers.

The owner of the independent North London bookshop has explored the challenges of selling books in lockdown for The bookstore Children’s conference on Monday 20 September. He also stressed the need for corporate tariff reform and warned of supply chain issues.

He explained how booksellers rose to the lockdown challenge. “[While] the retail sector has been ordered to close its doors to the public, with books in greater demand than ever following the lockdown, it was never going to be easier. Bookstores and booksellers took the opportunity to show creativity and resilience, reinventing themselves to meet the demands of a public in need of books, whether for homeschooling or the essential personal escape.

“For many, ourselves included, that meant book fairies delivering much-needed supplies to the doors of wondering toddlers, concocting click-and-collect moments and frankly anything that would deliver the right books at the right time. ”

Pryse, who is also chair of the Bookseller Association’s children’s book sales group, highlighted how the Covid-19 crisis had acted as a catalyst for website functionality for many freelancers. “It also meant finally having the exodus for fully functional websites. I’m sure we weren’t alone in this. I think website development is one of the lasting legacies of that time, as independents eventually gained the ability to not just match, but actually surpass giant retailers. The launch of also couldn’t have been more timely, providing valuable sales as well as vital publicity for independent bookstores, especially those that lacked resources for their own websites.

Pryse explored the most permanent changes to book retail since Covid-19. “For many of us, we got used to not having to work seven days a week and being able to close the store in time to pick up the kids from school or do other things. For many of us, this means making longer-term changes to the way we work – employing more staff, reducing opening hours and generally seeking a better work-life balance. private.

He praised the furlough scheme and the support of publishers to help many businesses continue through the crisis. He said: “While no business has had it easy by any stretch of the imagination, the financial support throughout the government shutdowns has enabled most of us to reopen in recent months while generous rebates from publishers have enabled us to invest in new inventory,” he told delegates. In addition, a Kickstarter program has also allowed Pickled Pepper to expand its team, offering jobs to young people starting a career in the bookstore.

Among the new challenges, Pryse considered the long-term change in shopping habits: “The advent of the pandemic has dramatically accelerated the pace of change in our main streets, cities and cities. Chain heavyweights struggling with huge debts have led to fewer retail job opportunities, desolate storefronts, and fewer reasons to visit your downtown. Initiatives such as the Culture Palace in Enfield, in which we are involved, are just one example of how empty shops can be repurposed and new life and much-needed interactive activities bought into our town centres.

Pryse was particularly concerned about the lack of flexibility in professional pricing, which he said threatened the sustainability and creativity of freelancers. “A sustainable economic recovery is a distant dream at present,” he said.

He also cited instability in the supply chain as prices rise and urged government intervention. Longstanding problems in the industry in recent months – a shortage of pulp and heavy truck drivers as well as shortages of ocean freight and containers – have also driven up costs.

After the pandemic, many customers were looking for events rather than just products, a situation that booksellers should be aware of, Pryse continued. “In the short term, we are seeing a decline in retail spending as people no longer seek the solace of books as much and make up for lost time by participating in activities, which is why it is so important for all of us. to offer more than just a product,” he said.

Climate change is also changing book retail, he said. “Combined with a move towards reduced consumption in relation to the climate crisis, increasing the number of books produced in an environmentally sustainable way rather than just books about the environment is also an important step and we hope it will continue. will continue.”

James S. Joseph