“Engagement with readers improves the resilience of bookselling sector”

Spotlighting Coronavirus recovery at recent international book conference in Moscow 


EIBF director Julie Belgrado spoke at a digital panel event during the Moscow’s International Book Conference last Thursday, 3 September. The event brought together stakeholders from across the book sector, including publishers, booksellers, and representatives of various national and international book associations and federations, to discuss Coronavirus recovery and strategies for development of the book industry. 


Our director took part in the second panel discussion on digitalisation and innovation as the main tools for the restoration of the book industry, where she shared best practice examples for restoring communication with readers following the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her talk, Julie highlighted the severe impact of Coronavirus on the bookselling sector, with bookshops in many countries having to close and physical sales drastically declining. As the same time, booksellers saw a huge jump in online sales, however, this was detrimental to shops that didn’t have online presence. “It’s true that booksellers suffered a lot, and as many other businesses, they had to quickly adapt to the changing environment. During the pandemic, we have seen a lot of innovativeness, resilience and resourcefulness coming from the booksellers. And through that, we have seen how essential booksellers are to the community they are part of.”  


Pandemic as an accelerator for change 

Due to constantly changing customer demand, booksellers had to be very responsive and tailor their offer to customers: from hosting digital events with authors and reading children’s books online to help entertain children staying at home, to increasing supplies of games and puzzles. Many booksellers who didn’t have an online presence, took orders through email, phone, and/or social media channels, while also working on building their websites. As our director said: “During this time, the pandemic served as an accelerator for change, especially in regards to online sales. In that way, booksellers never really lost contact with their readers and communities.” 


Working together 

During national lockdowns, many governments and booksellers associations launched new or extensively promoted existing reading campaigns, highlighting the importance of reading, books, and culture. This helped in raising awareness of reading and books as activities that can be done while staying at home. 

"Book industry is a resilient industry - it has been here for many years, and it will be here for many more. We saw this during the pandemic as well, people turned to books, culture, and reading." Julie concluded her presentation by highlighting the important contribution of booksellers to their local communities, in ensuring continued access to books, literature and culture for all. 


Missed the talk?

Watch Julie’s presentation here (from 30.50 to 44.07) and find the slides in the attachment below. Catch up with the whole panel here (in English and Russian).