We are living through the most extraordinary times, and my heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones, or whose livelihoods are threatened. All we can do is stay home, wash our hands, and do our best to keep healthy. This, too, will pass.
Times in publishing (as in many industries) are pretty tough. You might assume that this is the perfect time for books, and indeed many people are reading more than ever before, but it's not quite that simple. Some distribution warehouses are unable to operate safely, many foreign borders are closed, and bookshops are closed. Even the large online retailers are struggling to meet demand. I've had a number of emotional conversations with some of my foreign publishers this week, particularly in countries where the e-book market is very small.
Many publishers have postponed books that were due out this month or next, and I can absolutely understand their reasoning. It's heartbreaking to work on a book for a year or more - whether as the author or as part of the wider team - only for it to sink without a trace.
The paperback of After the End is due out very soon, prompting a series of conversations with my own publisher. With bookshops closed and my tour cancelled, is there any point in bringing it out now?
We think so. Readers need books, and it would be unfair on those of you who have already waited a long time for the paperback of After the End, to expect you to wait even longer. Many independent bookstores have reacted swiftly to store closures and put their stock online, and they need your business more than ever before. Here in my book club, I'll be highlighting a different UK independent book retailer each month, working with them on our book club pick so that we can all do our bit to support the high street. More on this, below.
Life chez Mackintosh has been busy over the last month. I've been supporting my own community by running a volunteer scheme for self-isolators, and by distributing food parcels. Together with Rob, I've been home-schooling our three children (and will never criticise teachers again...) and spent time whipping the garden into shape. Down in the field, Pete the goat is having to cope with some rather amorous rams, all three remaining hens are laying daily (thank goodness, because I'm baking every day), and I've fenced off a section to grow fruit. Place your bets on how long before Pete breaks in...