As German bookstores reopen under stringent health guidelines, Michael Busch, head of the country's largest bookstore chain, Thalia Mayersche, has called for a loosening of the country's traditionally limited shopping hours so that bookstores can open on Sundays until the end of January 2021. As recounted by Buchreport, Busch said that the change would make it easier to keep customers separated in stores and win back some of the lost sales of the past month.
Busch acknowledged likely opposition to Sunday openings from unions and churches, but hoped that all groups could work together in an extraordinary time to do something to help the book business and maintain jobs.
With a ban on large events in Germany until at least August 31 and the cancellation of Oktoberfest (set for September 19-October 4), Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, which is scheduled for October 14-18, said in a statement that "based on the information that is currently available, we expect the Frankfurter Buchmesse to take place... What Frankfurt's 72nd book fair will look like exactly, we cannot yet say. What is already clear, however, is that it will be a very special event." He stressed that the health and safety of exhibitors, trade visitors, the public and fair employees is "our highest priority."
Boos added that "it will probably be possible to provide a clearer picture as of mid-June."
Because of closed bookstores as well as cancelled readings, book fairs, book exhibits and more, Literaturhaus.net, the network of the 14 Literaturhaus locations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, is calling on booksellers, bloggers, book fairs and others to include and publicize books published in the spring and summer 2020 season with books yet to be published. It hopes that the mixing will last into summer 2021, and would thereby create a "second spring" for books that likely are having trouble finding an audience. As quoted by Börsenblatt, "Instead of 'seasons,' we want to convey themes, histories and questions," the group said, adding that it wants "most of all to show solidarity with authors" and emphasize "the cultural value and sustainability of books."
The idea came from Hauke Hückstädt, head of the Literaturhaus in Frankfurt.
An update from Hachette Book Group in the Australian Booksellers Association's weekly newsletter gives an idea of the pressures on international publishers during the Covid-19 pandemic. As recounted by Hachette Australia sales director Daniel Pilkington, huge increases in air freight costs, including charges 10 times above normal for flights from the U.K. to Australia, have forced the company to end air shipments for now to Australia and from Australia to New Zealand.
The company will continue importing books by sea and printing books locally, and has substantially lowered local print minimums for its international books. It will stock a greater number of titles at wholesaler ADS in Australia, a change that may become permanent. "This should mean more books more readily available for readers, but not quite yet," Pilkington wrote. "It's going to take a couple of months to get those backlist books here. In terms of front list, given the major disruption to the U.K. and U.S. markets, over 800 Hachette titles have been delayed until later in the year. The good news is that stock for many of these titles is already available and we will have time to sea freight and still match international publication dates."
Strange days indeed... Amazon has pledged £250,000 (about $322,560) to the Book Trade Charity's crowdfunding campaign to help U.K. booksellers during the Covid-19 crisis. The donation has raised the total amount pledged thus far to about £380,000 (about $490,290).
At first, the gift was anonymous, and David Hicks, CEO of the Book Trade Charity, said that the donor "just wants to say they are committed to independent bookshops as part of a mixed bookselling economy and they want to show some support and we were their chosen vehicle through which to do that on the basis of the crowdfunder."
This morning, Hicks revealed Amazon as the donor to end mounting speculation about its identity. He added: "The additional boost of £250,000 from Amazon has put us in a very strong position to help even more booksellers suffering hardship from this crisis. We all recognise the value of bookshops to local communities, the trade, as well as the economy, and it is a privilege to represent such a broad cross-section of the industry who have put faith in BTBS to deliver support where it is needed in these difficult times. Confidential and non-judgemental as ever, a simple email to firstname.lastname@example.org will get the process started."