The Challenges of the Path Forward
(Although I believe these issues are true on a world stage, I can only observe and comment on my own region of the world. Namely, Ontario, Canada, and Ottawa.)
Inflation and people's spending behaviours.
Necessities vs. needs.
The rewriting of Consumer habits (quite literally where and how we shop).
These are the byproducts of the past 2 years of the pandemic, a re-wiring of our social-economic system.
And as we attempt to exit the pandemic and navigate into a new Post-Covid reality, it is only further compounded by our leaders' mixed messages and our hypocritical Public Health Officials (yes, I'm talking about you Dr. Kieran Moore), leading to the erosion of Consumer confidence.
These, and more, are all the numerous factors that feed into the real question.
The real question is that of Fear vs. Paranoia.
You and I have both seen it run rampant; entire demographics of people consumed in mindless paranoia. People driving in their cars, alone, windows up, wearing their masks.
A completely mindless and broken logic; I witnessed an older woman at a craft fair, masked, asking a volunteer for directions, only to lean forward, pull her mask below her chin to speak.
This is full blown paranoia. We have lost our critical thinking. At least, some of us have.
We are seeing this divide between fear and paranoia. And we are seeing the dichotomy of philosophy arising.
Many stores had abandoned and taken down their plexiglass barriers. Some stores are embracing the Covid-exit. IKEA announced on November 30th, their kids play area will reopen. All the while Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Keiran Moore, just recommended masking in any and all indoor public settings.
But others have not. This is no longer fear. Fear is justified. This is paranoia. And this paranoia is and will shape our future and our livelihoods and economy if we allow it to continue, make no doubt. (And our ability to care for the vulnerable is directly contingent upon a healthy and prosperous economy).
As a writer, as a publisher, I am watching and observing. I am attempting to construct a plan to navigate these unsailed and turbulent waters.
How does one do a new book release or book launch, when a large percentage of the population is - not frightened - but paranoid? Approaching a local restaurant with a separate event space, should a publisher expect them to supply the extra staff, or even have the extra staff available?
With the big-box bookstores adjusting their merchandise away from books and literature and towards knick-knacks, expensive water-bottles and yoga mats, is it even worth attempting to move your books through these avenues? (I cite the example of Chapters Rideau closing and reopening as Indigo in Rideau Centre, describing themselves - in their own words - as "...new destination store, which will include a curated assortment of books but also more lifestyle products and inspiring displays.")
Do we focus on online ebooks and worldwide print-on-demand services? And if so, how best to promote it? Social media platforms are in a state of chaos, change, and degradation.
But maybe it isn't all doom-and-gloom.
The revelations we discovered in the Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster lawsuit, were an eye opener. Apparently, over 50% of 58,000 titles (books) sell less than a dozen copies. Admitted, there is a lot of information to unpack and interpret here.
Just for comparison, if we look at the titles published by Broken Keys Publishing, the number which sold less than a dozen copies sit at slightly over 11%, significantly better than 50%. So what are we to think?
Maybe what we are seeing is the end of numerous antiquated models and systems and mindsets and people.
Maybe this entire situation is best looked at as a natural forest fire. To burn down the old wood, its ashes to nurture the new growth.
Maybe the rampant paranoia we are seeing isn't paranoia, but actually and truly fear. They are in fear of the end of their age, of their domain; that they are following the path of the dinosaur.
Maybe this is the sign of a new age, a new way.
Many businesses had listened and obeyed and abided to our leaders' dictated rules and advice and suggestions, and many businesses have folded and closed, permanently.
There's only a few questions left to ask oneself:
Fear or paranoia?
Ride the wave of change, or be buried under it?
Which path are you going to follow forward?