We need a break

<p>If we all stopped publishing for three months would anybody actually notice? I&rsquo;m serious. Would it make a fundamental difference to the sales of books or the lives of readers? I suspect not.</p>
<p>What if we just put everything on hold for a while? This isn&rsquo;t an original idea, it was suggested to me by Kate Hyde, digital producer at HarperCollins, and we have seen a number of companies in other industries do the same thing recently. Honda has closed its Swindon factory for four months. For the first two of these all staff remain on full pay, they then move to about 60% of normal earnings. Hardly ideal, but surely better than widespread redundancies. These are difficult economic times. Publishers big and small are cutting costs and, most painfully of all, cutting jobs. Would a publication freeze be a genuine alternative to such measures?</p>
<p>Think about it. A whole financial quarter without plant or printing costs, without having to pay retailers for new promotional space and even, dare I say it, without having to advertise any new books. What would actually happen?</p>
<p>Would people stop buying books? Of course not. Would retailers suddenly run out of stock? No, they&rsquo;d simply sell the books they already have and reorder from the millions sitting in warehouses up and down the land. Publishers are always moaning about the retail obsession with new books and the fast turnover of promotional titles. Don&rsquo;t give them any and they can&rsquo;t turn them over.</p>
<p>If anything it would give everyone a much needed breather. A chance to catch up, move ahead of schedules and do those things that we struggle to find the time for&mdash;reading and, that rarest of pastimes, thinking.</p>
<p>Now I realise that this will never happen and that the idea is full of holes and issues&mdash;not least how it would impact on freelances and those whose sole income comes from new publications&mdash;and I can&rsquo;t address them all in this short space but I do genuinely think it is something to mull over, even if only to get us all thinking laterally and creatively at this difficult time. And when I mull it over I keep coming back to the same point&mdash;I really don&rsquo;t think readers/customers/consumers (delete as applicable) would give a shit. They would carry on reading books, shops would carry on selling them and a considerable amount of money would be saved.</p>
<p>Now do excuse me, I&rsquo;ve got a bunch of books going to print that need to be signed off.</p>