Amazon is temporarily suspending deliveries of non-essential goods, including print books, to its UK and US warehouses as it focuses on household staples and medical supplies in response to the coronavirus outbreak. It comes after Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a £350bn economic lifeline for businesses as cases of Covid-19 increase.
The majority of staff at the major publishing houses have been directed or encouraged to work from home, as the latest government advice concerning coronavirus urges people to stop all non-essential travel and all non-essential contact.
On the heels of S&S UK's decision requiring all staff to work from home "for the foreseeable", similar guidelines have now been issued to all staff at Penguin Random House UK (including DK colleagues). It advised all London office-based colleagues to work from home, while all events scheduled until the end of June have been cancelled. Pan Macmillan also announced it is closing its offices from Thursday. Hachette UK staff have been remote working from the start of this week and the offices are also being closed on Thursday. HarperCollins' London teams moved fully to remote working on Tuesday (17th March).
Meanwhile, the Booksellers Association has called for publishers and authors to support local stores, which are likely to see a decline in footfall as the crisis bites. Booksellers have urged the government to issue clearer guidance for retailers as social distancing ramps up with many bookshops closing.
Latest update, 3.50 p.m. (Wednesday 18th March): Huddersfield Literature Festival announces online 'Mini-Fest'
The Huddersfield Literature Festival, which was forced to cancel its live events due to the coronavirus outbreak, has announced a mini-programme of online author readings, Q&As and creative writing support. Details will be announced on social media and the HLF website over the coming days. It kicks off with a virtual launch party tonight (Wednesday 18th March), when the festival’s social media followers will be invited to relax with a drink and enjoy a filmed short reading by Monique Roffey from her new novel The Mermaid of Black Conch.
Latest update, 3.30 p.m. (Wednesday 18th March): academic presses confirm working from home arrangements
Academic houses including Wiley, Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press have this week been sending employees home to work remotely, in the same way as their trade counterparts.
Wiley on Monday asked all colleagues around the world to work from home until further notice, including teams based in the Wiley Chichester, London and Oxford offices.
OUP has told all UK-based employees to work from home if they can, meanwhile increasing the level and frequency of office cleaning for those who can't be home-based with the option to travel into the office at non-peak hours. The publisher is also granting all employees globally paid, authorised leave if they have to take unplanned absence – for example, because of childcare, or because they have to self-isolate and are unable to work from home.
CUP staffers in New York are working from home, and in the Cambridge office are working from home "where possible", while the publisher is also working "closely" with colleagues in other offices around the globe
Many have been helping instructor customers who need to teach remotely by offering free access to online resources for students and teachers.
Latest update, 3.20 p.m. (Wednesday 18th March): 'Bookshops need help now', BA tells 'slow' government
Laura McCormack, the Booksellers Association's head of policy and public affairs has said, although "encouraged" by the chancellor's pledges to help UK businesses cope with the economic fallout from coronavirus, its members need help "now" – including in the form of clearer guidance from the government.
"We were encouraged to hear the chancellor say he'll do 'whatever it takes' to help businesses survive this crisis," said McCormack. "However, bookshops need help now. The government has been very slow to provide details of measures announced this past week and we know a number of our members are struggling with the lack of clarity. At the BA, we will continue to do all we can to ensure the help provided by the government is comprehensive enough to support them through this crisis."
Latest update, 3.10 p.m. (Wednesday 18th March): Orenda Books offers to fulfil indie orders directly to sidestep 'uncertainty about the distribution network'
Karen Sullivan, publisher for Orenda Books, has said it will support independent bookshops by fulfilling orders from its offices directly.
"In unprecedented times and in a bid to support independent bookshops, Orenda Books will fulfil any orders taken by independents from our offices," she said. "We are aware that indies hold small quantities of stock for most books, and rely on getting books in from wholesalers or distributors on a next-day-delivery basis. With so much uncertainty about the distribution network, we feel it might be easier for all involved to send out orders for delivery from here. We will split the cost of postage with booksellers and meet existing discounts."
Latest update, 2.50 p.m. (Wednesday 18th March): Oliver Jeffers gives reading a day for children stuck at home
Oliver Jeffers has been using Instagram Live to share a reading from one of his books every weekday at 6 p.m. GMT / 2 p.m. EST / 11 a.m. PST and to talk about some of the things that went into making it. The HarperCollins Children's author-illustrator said: "We are all at home, but none of us are alone."
Latest update, 2.30 p.m. (Wednesday 18th March): W&N to rush out 'urgent exploration of the Covid-19 emergency'
Weidenfeld & Nicolson is rush publishing Italian physicist and novelist Paolo Giordano's How Contagion Works: Science, Awareness and Community in Times of Global Crises, pitched as a book that "helps us understand why the Covid-19 should be a wake-up call for us all".
The e-book edition will be available next week while the audio download is due for release at the end of the month and it is aiming to publish the paperback original on 9th April 2020. The author, whose recent article "The maths behind the contagion" was shared more than 3.5 million times, is donating his royalties to medical research charities and to those who are working on a cure.
Quarto has meanwhile reissued two titles related to viruses: Virus An Illustrated Guide to 101 Incredible Microbes by Marilyn Roossinck and The Atlas of Disease: Mapping Deadly Epidemics and Contagion from the Plague to the Coronavirus.
Latest update, 11.45 a.m. (Wednesday 18th March): French publishers bring in measures to help indie bookshops
The two largest French publishing groups, Hachette Livre and Editis, have announced measures to help some of its 3,000 independent booksellers through the coronavirus crisis, including postponing booksellers’ payment deadlines and invoices. It follows the closure of all shops in France, except for those considered essential, announced on Saturday (14th March) and the total national lockdown now in place. Books are not considered essential items.
Latest update, 11.40 a.m. (Wednesday 18th March): English PEN postpones or cancels all events until at least 30th April 2020
English PEN has issued a statement sharing its decision to postpone or cancel all events at least until 30th April 2020, following the latest public health advice from the government. This includes: "Displaced Memories: Recollection and Exile" at the British Museum on 20th March; "Vigil for Ahmed Mansoor" at the UAE Embassy on 25th March; "Vigil for Writers at Risk" at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia on 27th March; "Rebecca Solnit in Conversation" at Tyneside Cinema on 31st March; "Liberating Languages" at the Free Word Centre on 6th April; and "No Frontiers: Celebrating Writing in Translation" at the British Museum on 17th April. Those who have purchased tickets have been advised to contact the venue to arrange a refund.
Daniel Gorman, director English PEN, said: "Our commitment to PEN’s values remains as strong as ever and we’ll do whatever we can to support our community in the coming weeks and months."
Latest update, 11.30 a.m. (Wednesday 18th March): Hachette UK closes offices
Everyone at Hachette UK has been remote working from the start of this week, a spokesperson confirmed, and the offices are being closed tomorrow (Thursday 19th March).
Latest update, 11.15 a.m. (Wednesday 18th March): Stratford Literary Festival cancels Spring Festival
The Stratford Literary Festival has announced it has cancelled the 2020 Spring Festival (9th–17th May) following the government’s guidance on the Covid-19 outbreak.
Tickets will be refunded (automatically if bought online; those bought via the Play House Box Office will need ticket-holders to contact the box office directly).
Festival director Annie Ashworth said: "It is with enormous regret that we will not be going ahead with the Spring Festival. Protecting our team, speakers and audience is our priority, and following the government’s recent announcement, we had to take this difficult decision."
The Festival’s Winter Weekend is still going ahead, scheduled for 20th–22nd November. The line-up will be announced over the summer and tickets released for sale.
Latest update, 10.50 a.m. (Wednesday 18th March): Creative Industries Federation raises concerns for the UK's self-employed creative workforce
The UK's self-employed creative workforce will be "hit hard", according to the Creative Industries Federation, which has raised concerns the chancellor's measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak "fall short of guaranteeing these workers’ income".
The Creative Industries Federation said it welcomed Chancellor Rishi Sunak's package of loans and grants announced on Tuesday evening (17th March), which for businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector includes a year-long holiday from paying business rates and grants of up to £25,000. But it questioned whether the measures go far enough after a survey it conducted with 2,000 members revealed 54% "expect income to decrease by over 50% due to the fallout from the pandemic, with many already experiencing immediate losses".
Its statement, in part, read: "a third of the UK’s creative workforce is self-employed and they will be hit hard. The measures announced on mortgage payments and alleviating hardship are welcome but fall short of guaranteeing these workers’ income – a government measure that is now desperately needed ...
"Our creative industries are one of the UK’s leading success stories. They are vital, not only for our economy, but for our way of life, bringing communities together and joy to millions around the globe. It is vital that our creative businesses are able to survive."
Latest update 9.30 a.m. (Wednesday 18th March): Libraries Connected calls on government to make 'clear decision' about closing libraries
Libraries Connected has issued a statement, saying "in light of the recent escalation of the Covid-19 crisis and the latest government advice, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that library buildings should close to protect communities and staff from infection. We are calling on government to make a clear decision about closing libraries, along with other public buildings."
While it has been working on ways to improve remote library services, including to help older people who are self-isolating and parents of young children, it highlighted "it is equally important that library staff are safeguarded during this period".
Some libraries have already closed owing to the latest government advice and Libraries Connected has said it expects more to follow. However lack of clarity from the government means, as Public Libraries News editor Ian Anstice pointed out in his latest newsletter, that "up and down the country, senior library managers are having to make decisions for their service because the government has avoided doing so. They should all be supported as it is the most difficult time in their careers, as well as ours."
Latest update 9 a.m. (Wednesday 18th March): more publishers delay the publication of their spring titles and postpone or cancel major events; indie bookshops continue to close or announce new trading hours
Following in the footsteps of Transworld, which delayed the publication of Ruth Jones' Us Three on Friday 13th March, more publishers are delaying the publication of their spring titles and postponing or cancelling major events. Among the titles publishing later are Raynor Winn's The Wild Silence (Michael Joseph), Sophie Mackintosh's Blue Ticket (Hamish Hamilton) and Jeff Kinney's Rowley Jefferson's Awesome Friendly Adventure (PRH Children's).
Meanwhile independent bookshops across the country are closing their doors and encouranging customers to support their businesses and place orders online instead.
Latest update 8.30 a.m. (Wednesday 18th March): Amazon prioritises essentials
Amazon is temporarily suspending deliveries of non-essential goods to its UK and US warehouses to free up space for household staples, medical supplies and other high-demand products.
The Independent Publishers Guild in the US, in a message to members, said: "This morning Amazon informed us of a significant change to their ordering practices. They have temporarily paused ordering for products that are not household staples, medical supplies, or other high demand products. This includes print books. E-book sales are not affected by this change.
"This will be in effect today through 5th April, 2020, and they will let us know once they resume regular operations. Amazon understands this is a change to our business, and they did not take this decision lightly."
Latest update, 7 p.m. (Tuesday 17th March): Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveils £350bn economic lifeline
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has outlined a £350bn package of new economic measures in light of the coronavirus crisis, including £330bn in loans, £20bn in other aid, a business rates holiday, and grants for retailers and pubs. Last week, Sunak pledged to abolish business rates for small businesses in a budget dominated by plans to alleviate the impact of the pandemic. Speaking alongside the prime minister, Sunak went further, extending the business rates "holiday" to all firms in the hospitality sector and also announced funding grants of between £10,000 and £25,000 for small businesses. He said: "We must act like any wartime government and do whatever it takes to support our economy."
Latest update, 4.05 p.m. (Tuesday, 17th March): CUP offers free access to coronavirus research
Cambridge University Press is offering free online access to higher education textbooks and coronavirus research during the outbreak.
Existing customers are being offered free access to key reference works on request to help them overcome the disruption caused by the global response to the pandemic.
All 700 textbooks published and currently available in HTML format on Cambridge Core – the online home of CUP's academic books and journals — are available regardless of whether they were previously purchased. Free access is available until the end of May 2020.
Latest update, 3.45 p.m. (Tuesday, 17th March): Michael O'Mara to remote work
Like the vast majority of publishers, Michael O'Mara has announced its staff will also be working from home. The new arrangements kick in tomorrow.
Latest update, 3.35 p.m. (Tuesday, 17th March): Booksellers call for clarity
Booksellers are calling for more clarity from the government over insurance for retail businesses that close during the health crisis.
Mr B's owner Nic Bottomley told The Bookseller: “The government basically told people not to go into pubs and restaurants but told pubs and restaurants to stay open. It’s fairly obvious there is an insurance implication in that. If the government has not told you to close, and you decide to close, then you may stand to gain nothing in terms of business interruption insurance.”
Latest update, 3 p.m. (Tuesday, 17th March): Waterstones cancels all events
Waterstones is cancelling all its events until the summer, it has announced this afternoon.
A spokesperson said: "In order to prioritise the health of our customers and booksellers and following updated government guidance on public gatherings, we have made the decision to cancel or postpone all bookshop events until summer. We are working closely with publishers and are looking to rearrange at a later point where possible."
Latest update, 2.55 p.m. (Tuesday, 17th March): Sweet Cherry joins homeworking ranks
Leicester-based children's publisher Sweet Cherry has cancelled all face-to-face meetings and events and staff are now working from home.
The company said business will continue with minimal disruption with home-offices set up and virtual team meetings in place.
A spokesperson said: “With the coronavirus pandemic now reaching 129 cases in the Midlands, protecting the health and safety of staff is a priority for Sweet Cherry.”
Latest update, 2.45 p.m. (Tuesday, 17th March): Round Table Books closes as Knights Of staff work remotely
Round Table Books closed on Monday to "ensure the safety" of both our customers and staff. Work is under way to build an online store front as quickly as possible.
The firm said in a statement: "The shop in Brixton is a focal point for a number of communities and we're working on creating as many safe, welcoming spaces for communities to continue to share stories as possible via message groups, Twitter and Facebook.
"Everyone at Knights Of is now working from home, following government advice on social distancing, with as little interruption as possible – we are expecting it to affect sales and are concerned, but excited to publish Sharna Jackson's Mic Drop next month and will have to get creative in how we share it with readers."
Latest update, 2.20 p.m. (Tuesday 17th March): Faber's office now closed
Faber confirmed it started trialling remote working on Friday and its London office has now shut. "The London office is now closed and all our staff are now successfully working remotely," a spokesperson said on Tuesday. "We are contacting our authors about postponing events."
Latest update, 2.15 p.m. (Tuesday 17th March): all Canongate staff working from home, with most events for the next couple months cancelled
A spokesperson confirmed all Canongate staff have been working from home since last week, with meetings now taking place via Zoom and Slack. Those who are able to walk into the office are dealing with mailouts on a rota, which in Edinburgh constitutes a majority of the staff. Additional safety measures have been put in place for those in the office alone, with check-in and check-out protocols.
"Given we’re already based over two offices we’re perhaps slightly more used to working remotely than other companies," a spokesperson said, "but this will still prove an interesting challenge for the whole team – albeit one we feel confident of reaching."
They added: "Inevitably most of our events for the next couple of months have also been cancelled, but we’re working closely with both authors and booksellers on alternative ways to ensure the books still get the best launch possible, despite the circumstances."
Latest update, 1.55 p.m. (Tuesday 17th March): Portobello Bookshop announces temporary closure
The Portobello Bookshop in Edinburgh is closing tonight until at least April.
Its management said: “We anticipate many shop closures are likely in the coming weeks and months, and we are closing with the intention of keeping our staff healthy so that we can launch an online store to help us survive this crisis.”
Latest update, 1.30 p.m. (Tuesday 17th March): Toppings to postpone events over coming months
Edinburgh bookshop Toppings has announced it is working to postpone some of its events this month, alongside those planned for April and May. The store said it would email or text all those who have booked for each event to let them know and advise them of new dates.
Appearances from David Farrier, Frances Leviston and Tim Parks are among those that have been cancelled.
Latest update, 1.15 p.m. (Tuesday 17th March): Aitken Alexander shuts office
Aitken Alexander has become the latest agency to close its office owing to the coronavirus. The firm tweeted all staff including those on reception would be working from home “until further notice”.
Latest update, 1 p.m. (Tuesday 17th March): authors pull together for "virtual book launches" as tours cancelled
Authors have been using social media to support one another and help publicise books where events have been cancelled. David Nicholls will be hosting a series of “virtual book launches” for affected writers on Thursday. In the meantime, he has been publicising other titles from the past few weeks.
Elsewhere, Clare Mackintosh has been offering to share details of new books in her newsletter. On the 31st March William Sutcliffe will be giving over his Twitter freed for a virtual book launch of Hamnet (Tinder Press), by his wife, Maggie O’Farrell.
Latest update, 12.20 p.m. (Tuesday 17th March): Booksellers Association asks for trade support
The Booksellers Association is calling for publishers and authors to support local bookshops by pointing readers towards them rather than Amazon.
M.d. Meryl Halls said: "We are very keen for publishers and authors to help reinforce this message too – not to default to Amazon as the de facto buying option, but to link to bookshops and to reiterate the importance of shopping locally, supporting their local community and emphasising the contribution of bookshops to safe, nourishing and mutually supportive neighbourhoods.”
Halls said resources were being supplied to shops to help them boost trade. She added: “We know how resourceful and resilient booksellers are in the face of adversity, and we will do everything we can to support them during this difficult time, and encourage the publishing industry, the government and consumers to do the same."
The BA has also written an open letter calling for support for high street bookselling.
Latest update, 11.20 a.m. (Tuesday 17th March): Plum Pudding says it's business as usual despite home working
The Plum Pudding Illustration Agency says its staff are now working remotely. In a message to clients, director Mark Mills said a working from home test had been successful and everything was in place to make sure the new conditions would have as “little impact as possible”.
He wrote: “We will be having daily virtual team meetings, are now booking and conducting our virtual book fair meetings with clients in place of both LBF and Bologna and our regular client office meetings, and are all connected over Plum’s VPN!
"So, it’s still business as usual here for Plum, even if that business is temporarily being conducted from the homes of each of our amazing team!
“We are proud to represent some of the best talent in the industry, we have a strong team and we’re all as available as if we were together in the office, so please, let’s keep talking! It’s more important now, than ever, that we continue to bring joy to children around the world through the power of books.”
Latest update, 11.10 a.m. (Tuesday 17th March): Mackintosh novel delayed
The publication of Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh (Hamish Hamilton) has been pushed back from 7th May until 27th August in response to the coronavirus situation.
Latest update, 11 a.m. (Tuesday 17th March): Curtis Brown invites staff to work from home
All staff at Original Talent and Curtis Brown were given the option of working from home as of yesterday evening.
Curtis Brown chairman Jonny Geller said: “We will keep a skeleton staff, on rotation, to come in to maintain elements of our services that cannot be done digitally, but we are all set up to work remotely and continue business as normal in these abnormal times.”
Latest update, 10.30 a.m. (Tuesday 17th March): HarperCollins asks those who can work from home to do so
HarperCollins is now asking those who can work from home to do so, with London teams who have been working partly from home now to move fully to remote working. "Enhanced deep cleaning" is one measure being deployed for those who can't work remotely, alongside "increased social distancing".
A HarperCollins spokesperson said: "The health of our employees and their families is our priority and we are focused on reducing the risk to our people by following government advice as well as fulfilling our obligation to reduce movement and protect those who are most vulnerable. In all our sites we will be asking those who can work from home to do so. Our London teams will move from 50/50 working to remote working from today, as will those in the rest of our sites who are able to do so. The wellbeing of those who cannot work remotely, including those in our supply chain, is at the top of our minds and we will continue to support them with enhanced deep cleaning and hygiene regimes and increased social distancing between colleagues at work."
Latest update, 9 a.m. (Tuesday 17th March): Pan Macmillan runs test 'work from home day' and closes its offices from Thursday
Pan Macmillan has announced it is closing its offices from Thursday evening (19th March), "until further notice", and has asked everyone at the company to work from home "for the foreseeable future".
Anthony Forbes Watson said: "We have taken this decision in order to prioritise the health and wellbeing of everyone at Pan Macmillan and those who depend on us. We are well set up as a company for remote, flexible working, further to our move to The Smithson and our new way of working, and our intention is to continue to progress our business while operating virtually from home. I know that the team at Pan Macmillan will be as adaptable, creative and collaborative as ever, communicating in our usual open and energetic way to tackle every challenge and make the most of every opportunity as we enter these uncharted waters."
In preparation for the new set up, Pan Macmillan is running a test "work from home day" on Tuesday (17th March). The offices will be open on Wednesday and Thursday for those who wants to come in to prepare for working from home, though no staff will be obliged to work in the office from now on. While the office is closed, there will be security in the building and the post room will remain open.
The xxecutive team will review the situation over the coming weeks.
Latest update, 6.30 p.m. (Monday 16th March): Boris Johnson announces new coronavirus measures
Boris Johnson has delivered a statement on the latest stage of the coronavirus outbreak, telling people with symptoms (and anyone in their household) to self-isolate for 14 days. The Prime Minister has also urged people to stop all non-essential travel and all non-essential contact and said the government "needs" people to work from home where possible.
He said: "Our objective is to delay and flatten the peak of the epidemic by bringing forward the right measures at the right time, so that we minimise suffering and save lives. And everything we do is based scrupulously on the best scientific advice.
"Last week we asked everyone to stay at home if you had one of two key symptoms: a high temperature or a new and continuous cough.
"Today, we need to go further, because according to SAGE [the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies] it looks as though we’re now approaching the fast growth part of the upward curve.
"And without drastic action, cases could double every five or six days.
"So, first, we need to ask you to ensure that if you or anyone in your household has one of those two symptoms, then you should stay at home for 14 days."
He added: "Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel.
"We need people to start working from home where they possibly can. And you should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues.
"It goes without saying, we should all only use the NHS when we really need to. And please go online rather than ringing NHS 111.
"Now, this advice about avoiding all unnecessary social contact, is particularly important for people over 70, for pregnant women and for those with some health conditions."
Latest update, 5 p.m. (Monday 16th March): Bonnier Books UK introduces "managed remote working"
From now until the end of the week, Bonnier Books UK is transitioning to a policy of "managed remote working", a spokesperson has said. The offices will remain open for business, but the company will be taking action to reduce the number of people in its offices and those travelling to and from them. "Wherever possible, we’ll be asking people to work remotely," said Bonnier Books UK's spokesperson. "Inevitably there will be some work that needs to carried out within the offices, and managers will work with teams to decide how best to cover what needs to be done; how teams can travel within quieter periods and generally achieve greater flexibility in their working patterns."
Latest update, 4.30 p.m. (Monday 16th March): PRH UK tells all London office-based colleagues to work from home and cancels all events
Tom Weldon sent a message to all Penguin Random House UK, outlining plans for all London office-based staff to work from home from Tuesday (17th March) and explaining it is cancelling all events, including bookshop events, Penguin Live, launch parties and "any meetings".
The decision for London office-based colleagues to work from home followed a "successful" remote-working test on Friday last week, despite the presence of some issues such as the distribution of loan laptops and ensuring access to large files. The only exception to the instruction to work from home will be employees who are working on Business Continuity Planning.
Those based outside London will be expected to follow suit shortly after Wednesday (18th March) when another remote working test will be carried out. Meanwhile "extra steps" will be taken to ensure warehouse-based staff, whose roles mean that working remotely is not an option, are in a safe environment and "protected to the very best of [PRH's] ability". This includes the introduction of a separation between shifts and "stepping up" deep cleaning.
On the events-side, Weldon said PRH UK had made "the very difficult decision" to cancel all planned events from Tuesday (17th March) – including its annual company showcase, Penguin Presents – and publishers would need to "be imaginative and creative" in the interim.
"This is a testing time but I often think that it is in these moments that people, communities and companies are at their best," said Weldon. "I know that our company is strong and rest assured that we will do everything we can to support our colleagues, authors and partners in the book industry."
Read the full story here.
Latest update, 3.40 p.m. (Monday 16th March): Gardners reveals action plan in response to coronavirus outbreak as Bertrams stops unneccesary travel
Gardners has outlined a series of measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak. To “ensure continuity for customers, suppliers and to protect the welfare of staff”, the wholesaler says its action plan “fundamentally creates segregation within the workforce”.
A system of "teams" has been introduced within office departments, with separate welfare facilities, in order to duplicate activities where possible and working hours have changed in the warehouse to prevent any overlap of shifts and to allow for the extra cleaning of key areas and equipment.
An off-site office facility has been set up, which has no physical link to Gardners current office areas and members of staff have been given the ability to work from home wherever possible. Staff business travel offsite has suspended, and likewise visitor access on site, with all business meetings being conducted via phone or video link.
In a statement, Gardners said: “We can confirm that all in the business will be working hard to ensure that Gardners high service levels are unaffected by these measures, and that we will be maintaining the usual order deadlines, shipping schedules and other SLAs. We are also reminding our bricks and mortar customers that they have the ability to use our home delivery (dropship) service, so that they can get books to their customers who want them without having to leave their homes with just a few clicks of a mouse.
“The situation is still evolving and we will be constantly reviewing our contingency plans, as guided by the government, to best serve our customers and to protect our staff. We will of course keep you updated with any further relevant changes as they occur.”
Meanwhile, Norwich-based wholesaler Bertrams has stopped unnecessary travel and meetings, with essential external meetings being held by phone, Skype or other means, with more staff working from home.
Latest update, 3 p.m. (Monday 16th March): The Book Society cancels dinner with guest speaker David Shelley
The Book Society has cancelled a dinner where special guest speaker and member David Shelley, c.e.o. Hachette UK, was due to speak on 2nd April. A spokesperson said on behalf of the committee that the decision had been arrived on "after careful consideration"' They added: "This seems to be the best course of action in light of the unfolding situation with Covid-19."
Latest update, 2.40 p.m. (Monday 16th March): Huddersfield Literature Festival cancels programme for 2020
Huddersfield Literature Festival has announced "in light of the increasing threat of the coronavirus outbreak" it has cancelled all events planned for 19-29th March 2020. The festival hopes to return to Huddersfield in March 2021.
Festival director Michelle Hodgson said: "It is with great sadness that we announce that this year’s festival will be cancelled. Although we were able to run several successful pre-festival events, we feel that we have to take this global pandemic seriously for the sake of our authors, performers, audiences, festival team and volunteers."
According to the festival, the team is currently looking at the possibility of rescheduling some sold-out events in the autumn and details will be available on the website in due course. Ticket-holders for other paid-for events will be issued with refunds "as soon as possible". Festival organisers have asked audiences to allow time for them to administer this process.
"We had hoped to be able to support authors, performers, booksellers and suppliers again through our events this year, and we are devastated to be in this position after all our hard work and planning," said Hodgson.
Latest update, 1.35 p.m. (Monday 16th March): Stacey Halls cancels events and ABCD postpones awards
Bonnier author Stacey Halls, who is currently promoting her second novel, The Foundling (Manilla), has cancelled her upcoming events at Alderney Literary Festival, Lancaster Literature Festival and Waterstones Harrogate. She said: “I love meeting readers more than anything, but it feels irresponsible to go ahead in the current climate. I really hope I can revisit these locations for the paperback tour, but in the meantime please contact the organisers directly for info/refunds. Hope everyone stays safe. Lots of love and thanks for the support.”
The Academy of British Cover Design has postponed the ABCD 2020 awards. The ceremony, recognising the best book covers of the last year, was due to take place on Thursday 19th March at Underbelly London. A spokesperson for the organiser said: “It is with huge sadness that we’ve reluctantly decided to postpone Thursday’s ABCD event. It doesn’t feel like a time to be celebrating and we don't want anyone to become ill as a result of the awards. Hopefully we’ll go again in September. Sorry for the short notice.”
Latest update, 1.30 p.m. (Monday 16th March): Hachette UK's offices remain open, but the company is urging as many people as possible to work from home
A spokesperson for Hachette UK said of its latest position: "We recognise this is an anxious time for our people and our first priority is to support their health and mental wellbeing. Our offices remain open, but we are urging as many people as possible to work from home.
"For those who need to be in the office or our warehouse, we are minimising the risks by taking measures such as deep-cleaning the premises regularly, limiting face-to-face meetings, and staggering start and finish times. We are continuing to monitor developments daily and will of course take further preventative measures if the situation evolves."
Latest update, 1 p.m. (Monday 16th March): Raynor Winn and Michael Joseph postpone publication of The Wild Silence
Michael Joseph has moved the publication date of Raynor Winn's The Wild Silence, from 30th April to 3rd September 2020. The author wrote on Twitter that the publication of the book – the follow-up to her Wainwright Prize-shortlisted and Costa-shortlisted novel The Salt Path – had been postponed "with careful thought and consideration" because her husband, Moth, isn't well and he "needs me fit and healthy to care for him". In this context, a book tour in May felt "unwise", she said.
"We're working hard to rearrange the scheduled events," she said. "I really hope you understand and I'm very sorry to keep you waiting. I'd like to thank all the booksellers and readers for their continued love and support of my work – without you none of this would be possible."
Latest update, 12.30 p.m. (Monday 16th March): Fane Productions postpones March and April shows
Event firm Fane, which produces many literary events, has decided to postpone shows in March and April, saying it can no longer wait for government advice on mass gatherings.
In a statement, Fane said: "All Fane shows in March and April have been postponed. Whilst the government advice does not make it clear when or at what capacity events will be banned, we can no longer continue to wait. The safety of our staff, artists and audiences must come first. Ticket-holders will be contacted by venues in due course—they will be able to transfer to the new date of the show in question, or offered a full refund if they can no longer attend. All shows from May will continue as planned unless otherwise stated. Thank you for your support and understanding."
From Tuesday 17th March, all Fane staff will be working from home.
Latest update, 11.30 a.m. (Monday 16th March): Goldsboro Books to close until end of March
London bookshop Goldsboro Books will close until 31st March, m.d. David Headley has announced, with the indie's online business continuing to trade as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
In a letter to customers, Headley said: "We have continued to monitor the Covid-19 situation over the weekend, to put the safety and welfare of our employees and our customers first.
"We feel that we must do what we can to help prevent further spread of the virus. We have decided that it is important for us to close our London shop to the general public, effective immediately. If you wish to collect books, please contact us before arriving so that we can get your books ready to take away immediately. If you usually collect but would like for us to deliver, please contact us.
"Our physical store will remain closed through to the end of the month, 31st March, and we will evaluate whether we need to extend the closure at that time. It is our intention to keep the website open and we’ll continue to send books out as normal. Thank you for your continued support and loyalty."
Latest update, 11.15 a.m. (Monday 16th March): Blackwell's Wellcome Collection shop to shut tonight
Retailer Blackwell's will close its branch at the Wellcome Collection tonight as the London museum will be closed from 6 p.m. this evening until further notice. For now, the retailer has no plans to temporarily close any of its other high street or campus bookshops.
Latest update, 10 a.m. (Monday 16th March): 2020’s Bristol Women’s Literature Festival cancelled
Organisers revealed that due to the coronavirus outbreak it has cancelled 2020’s Bristol Women’s Literature Festival. They said that continuing with the festival could put speakers, audience members and the team at risk of contracting the virus and this was "the responsible course of action".
"It was a really hard decision," explained Sian Norris, who set up the festival in 2013. "But the situation is moving so quickly and we have to put the health and safety of our team, audience and speakers first. We are so sad that we won’t be celebrating the amazing work of our writers and thinkers over the weekend programme but we would urge you to seek out their work."
Ticket holders can get refunds from the festival venues. Refunds for the launch party are available from Spike Island. Refunds for the weekend programme are available from Watershed. Bristol Women’s Literature Festival said it would like to invite ticket holders to donate the value of their refunded tickets to the festival’s partner charity, Womankind Bristol.
Latest update, 9 a.m. (Monday 16th March): S&S tells staff to work from home for the foreseeable; event cancellations continue, for David Nicholls' first US tour and the Stoke Newington and Killer Women Festivals, while Gutter Bookshop temporarily closes
All staff across Simon & Schuster UK, India & Australia are now working from home, after management decided to implement the same policy as colleagues in the US requiring all staff to work from home with effect from Monday 16th March "until further notice".
David Nicholls, who was due to tour the US for the first time to promote Sweet Sorrow (Hodder), meanwhile revealed the tour has been cancelled owing to coronavirus. The author wrote on Twitter: "So excited at the prospect of my first US book tour for #SweetSorrow. Sadly, sensibly it's been cancelled and I'm sorry not to be meeting readers and seeing those cities. Ah, well. In the meantime, I hope you'll bear with me if some promotion moves here [on Twitter] instead."
The Killer Women Festival, due to take place yesterday (15th March), and Stoke Newington Literary Festival, due to take place on 5th-7th June 2020, were also cancelled.
A statement for the Killer Women Festival said it had made the decision "with great regret" but, following the escalation of Covid-19 in Europe, "the health of all participants is our priority, and we feel that this is the right decision". A number of panelists had withdrawn from the festival due to complications arising from travel and/or underlying health conditions, it explained further; "as a result, we feel we are not able to deliver a programme that fully reflects the varied and innovative events that audiences have come to expect from the Killer Women Festival".
Stoke Newington Literary Festival said it "regrettably but inevitably" made the decision to cancel, also. "With peak CV-19 cases predicted to hit in 10 to 14 weeks, we can't put audiences, authors, volunteers and other partners at risk," the statement read. "We're gutted especially as it's our 10th anniversary but we're looking at rescheduling something later in the year. Schools activity will be rescheduled to next academic year too. In the meantime, we're looking at ways to bring snippets of the festival spirit to book-related stuff online. And when this is all over, we're going to help organise a massive party where we can hug one another and talk about all the amazing books we've read in lock-down. Please remember to support your local bookshop. Most are happy to make recommendations and post to you. Stay well."
The Gutter Bookshop in Dublin said it was reviewing the situation daily and that it expects to be closed for the remainder of the month, until 31st March 2020, in support of the community. It is still processing online orders, however.
"It’s with a heavy heart and after a lots of thinking that I’ve decided to temporarily close both of our bookshops in order to help stop the spread of coronavirus/Covid-19," wrote owner Bob Johnston. "We consider ourselves a community bookshop and it’s time to protect and support our communities by encouraging and supporting social distancing – we want to keep all of our staff and customers as safe as we possibly can and we need to do everything we can to stop the spread of this highly contagious virus."
Arts Council England has said its "number one priority" for the next three months is "to support people who work in the arts, museums and libraries".
First steps to help people working as artists, freelancers and in publicly funded cultural organisations include refocusing some grant programmes to help compensate individual artists and freelancers for lost earnings, it said, adding: "This will require further planning. It may take about 10 days before we can announce the details."
It said further: "National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) and Creative People & Places (CPPs) will continue to receive funding but funding conditions will not apply for at least three months with immediate effect. We can also advance grant payments to assist with cashflow.
"For NPOs and CPPs, the priority is staying in business. In exchange for our support we ask them to honour contracts agreed with freelances and artists and to think about what help they can offer their communities.
"This is just the start. We are collecting intelligence from across the sector so we can understand what is needed and we are in constant conversation with colleagues at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport about the short and long-term financial implications."
Latest update, 5.30 p.m. (Friday 13th March): Dohle seeks to reassure PRH staffers as US colleagues told to go home
Markus Dohle, chief executive officer for Penguin Random House, has shared a note to reassure staff worldwide that the safeguarding of their health is its "highest priority", at the same time as staff in its US offices, in New York, Colorado Springs and Emeryville, were told to "plan for today to be your last day in the office".
Dohle said in a letter to staff that the company "is strong" and will "do everything to ensure business continuity, so that we are able to share our books with readers around the globe during this difficult time". Full story here.
Latest update, 5 p.m. (Friday 13th March): Waterstones temporarily closes campus bookshops
Waterstones has temporarily closed its campus bookshops in Hull, Durham, UEA and Essex as footfall decreases as a result of the pandemic.
A spokesperson said: "After careful consideration, we have decided to temporarily close four of our campus bookshops in Hull, Durham, UEA and Essex. We have seen footfall significantly decline in those shops, due to concerns about coronavirus, and decided that it operationally makes most sense to close the shops and move booksellers to their nearest shop to support the existing teams there during this period."
Latest update, 4.30 p.m. (Friday 13th March): Transworld delays publication of Ruth Jones novel
The publication of Ruth Jones' second novel Us Three (Transworld) has been postponed from 14th May to 3rd September to avoid jeopardising promotional plans for the book following the coronavirus outbreak.
Transworld was clear that Jones' book tour, originally scheduled for 10th–19th May in collaboration with FANE, has not been cancelled.
Retailers were notified of the change in publication date today. The book's release in September will be accompanied by a major UK book tour, all being well, plus media appearances from Jones. Read the full story here.
Latest update, 3.50 p.m. (Friday 13th March): Rathbones Folio Prize ceremony cancelled
Rathbones Folio Prize director Minna Fry said: "You won’t be surprised to hear that we have taken the sad decision to cancel the Rathbones Folio Prize ceremony at the British Library on Monday 23rd March.
"The winner of the prize will still be announced on Monday 23rd—details of when and where to be confirmed.
"We are also looking into a digital solution for the Rathbones Folio sessions featuring the shortlisted authors, due to take place on Sunday 22nd March. Further information to be announced shortly.
"In the meantime, I hope you might take the opportunity to read as many as possible of the wonderful titles on our 2020 shortlist. They really might help stave off the anxiety of these uncertain times and transport you to other worlds beyond Covid-19 and self-isolation."
Latest update, noon (Friday 13th March): Curtis Brown confirms it is trialling working from home
Curtis Brown has temporarily shut its offices to trial working from home as a precautionary measure. Jonny Geller told The Bookseller: "We are trialling working from home over the next week in the expectation that the government will declare a position soon. Luckily, we have a system that allows us to function to 100% technical capability."
Latest update, 10.00 a.m. (Friday 13th March): Waterstones postpones announcement of its Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2020
Waterstones has decided to postpone the announcement of its Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2020, scheduled for 26th March, until summer 2020.
A spokesperson said: "With current developments, and potential changes in government advice, the decision has been made not to risk a very short notice cancellation, but instead to postpone to a time when we can be certain that we can give the best possible support to the winning authors and illustrators." A new date has yet to be confirmed. In the meantime, Waterstones has said its shops will continue to support the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize shortlists.
Latest update, 9.40 a.m. (Friday 13th March): Scottish Annual Book Trade Conference postponed
Publishing Scotland said the event, which was due to take place on Tuesday 21st April, has been postponed.
In a brief statement, Publishing Scotland said: "We are very sorry to announce that the Scottish Annual Book Trade conference with the Bookseller's Association
is postponed. With all the current concerns over the coronavirus, mass gatherings and travel, we feel it is best to reshedule the event."
Latest update, 9.20 a.m. (Friday 13th March): Amazon asks staff to work from home
Amazon has asked its staff across the world to work from home if possible until the end of March. Amazon employs around 798,000 people. Office workers will be able to work from home but many of the firm's workforce have jobs that require them to be on site.
An Amazon spokesman said: "We continue to work closely with public and private medical experts to ensure we are taking the right precautions as the situation continues to evolve. As a result, we are now recommending that all of our employees globally who are able to work from home do so through the end of March."
Latest update, 5.30 p.m. (Thursday 12th March): government issues new guidance as outbreak moves to 'delay' phase
The UK has moved to the 'delay' phase of the coronavirus outbreak, which includes the option of more stringent measures designed to slow down the spread of the virus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a press conference at Downing Street.
“We are now getting onto the next phase,” Johnson said. “This is now not just an attempt to contain the disease as far as possible but to delay its spread.”
Issuing new advice, Johnson warned: "I must level with you, level with the British public—more families, many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time."
People with symptoms of Covid-19—a new, continuous cough and/or a high temperature—are being told to self-isolate for seven days.
Latest update, 1.10 p.m. (Thursday 12th March): Irish Book Trade Conference postponed
The Irish Book Trade Conference, which was scheduled for 20th March in Dublin, has been postponed until the autumn.
In an email to delegates, John Keane, chair of Bookselling Ireland, announced the event had been pushed back following the first death from Covid-19 in the country. The conference was due to be held at the Radisson Blu hotel near Dublin Airport.
He wrote: "I hope you will agree that with events unfolding as rapidly as they are, and with the number of speakers and delegates who wouldn’t be comfortable attending the conference if it went ahead, this was the only sensible course of action to take.
“The Radisson Blu have been incredibly supportive of our plans and have agreed to move our booking to a date in the autumn. We hope to confirm a revised date with them soon."
Latest update, noon (Thursday 12th March): Adam Kay postpones tour
Writer and comedian Adam Kay, who earlier today announced his high-profile move from publisher Pan Macmillan to Hachette’s Orion, has revealed he is postponing upcoming performances of his show “This is Going to Hurt”, based on his bestselling memoir, because of coronavirus concerns. Read full story here.
Latest update, 10 a.m. (Thursday 12th March): deep cleaning at HarperCollins' News UK building as Times coronavirus case confirmed
Deep cleaning is being ramped up at the News UK building, home of HarperCollins, after an employee of the Times tested positive for the coronavirus.
A member of staff at the newspaper tested positive for the virus yesterday (11th March), although they had not been at the office since 2nd March. HarperCollins confirmed action was under way to ensure the wellbeing of its staff. Read the full story here.
Latest update, 9 a.m. (Thursday 12th March): W H Smith issues profit warning
W H Smith has warned the impact of the coronavirus outbreak could cut its profits by up to £40m as the pandemic hits its Travel business.
The retailer said it expects profit to be down between £30m to £40m for the financial year ending 31st August, with revenue expected to take a £100m to £140m hit.
Shares in the retailer fell 15% this morning following the news. Read the full story here.
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