Thursday, April 08, 2021

What will the world look like, post-Pandemic?

It’s a question I keep coming back to. Tom’s post this week, in which he mentioned the changes 2020 brought regarding book promotion, only created additional questions. Among them, for me: What, in the book industry, will go back to pre-Pandemic? What new ways of doing things will remain?

My agent reports that she’s worked from the Berkshires almost exclusively for the past year-plus and doesn’t feel the need to maintain her New York office. In terms of reading and submitting, the move out of the City changed little.

In my day job, as director of writing and founder of the Lamplighter Literary Arts Summer Writing Institute for Northfield Mount Hermon, many online ventures have been successful, author readings among them. A.M. Homes read to a virtual crowd of 225 people over ZOOM, then hosted a spirited Q@A. Books sales? I have no idea. Nothing signed obviously. But the night did allow her to reach 225 potential book buyers. Was the connection between author and reader as authentic as a face-to-face reading and signing? No, but . . .

. . . but it was not bad. Not bad at all, really. People liked the story she read (if you haven’t read her, you should. She has ties to our genre, in fact. She produced Mr. Mercedes for TV). People laughed at her jokes. People found her, even over Zoom, totally genuine, humble, and sincere. And I didn’t need to spring for travel and lodging. Was the evening as compelling as a live reading? I won’t go that far. But the Zoom option was cost-effective and allowed many more people to attend.

So I wonder, come post-Pandemic, what goes and what stays? Will my daughter have six-plus snow days each year and go until damn near July to make them up? Better not. This year, I had several authors visit classes over Zoom, something the students embraced and got a great deal out of. That will stay.


I hope those come back. A Zoom conversation, especially with strangers, isn’t the same as a face-to-face one. But it’s a good option to have.


Speaking of live readings, here's the real Keeley when she was 6 reciting Shel Silverstein's "True Story."

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