Bluemoose Books founder Kevin Duffy has called on the publishing industry to rally behind its smaller presses at this time of crisis, and to establish a fund to help independent publishers survive what Duffy said had been a 90% reduction in revenue as a result of the lockdown.
Bluemoose is co-publishing, with fellow indie Little Toller Books, a one-off e-book A Stone Statue In The Future, written by former Bluemoose author Benjamin Myers, as a way to raise funds quickly. Priced at £3, the digital book will be available to buy from The Little Toller website, from 17th April. But Duffy argued that more needed to be done.
Pointing to similar arrangements in France, Germany and Norway, Duffy said: "[The] bigger publishers are taking our tax money [for furlough], they should pay back by setting up a fund as we indie[s] are doing most of the R&D in Lit Fic and they benefit down the line by acquisition of IP and our audience."
Speaking during The Bookseller's Twitter conversation #BooksellerChat, Duffy also highlighted the collaborations that already took place between indie presses in the north of England, most notably the Northern Fiction Alliance, and between bookshops and publishers. "It is in our DNA to work collectively and to support each other in these straitened times. The publishing industry is becoming more risk averse and so to get great new stories into readers' hands we need the collective outreach of indies to market each other, it works."
A tweet from Little Toller, added: "We run our business from a very rural place so sometimes this can feel isolating. The cross pollination of small presses could be a really good thing not just through a crisis like this but perhaps we can make changes and do things more collectively in the future."
Duffy also highlighted the twinning scheme it has with local bookshops @ForumBooks and @drakebookshop, whereby they support Bluemoose's output with visibility and promotions, in return for special rates from the publisher. "Without indie bookshops, we'd be lost," he said.
Arts Council England has set up an emergency fund to support indies, but Duffy warned that this might not be enough to cover current losses. "@ace_national do a great job and the emergency fund is very, very welcome but my fear is that there will be winners and losers, and although it isn't their fault, surely there must better way to fund the creative arts", he said.
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