About 20 months ago the whole world began to slide into the worst pandemic since AIDs or the 1918-19 Spanish Flu. The rest is history, but also, strangely, ongoing. While some nations vaccinate more quickly, and resume business as more or less usual, thousands die daily, often because of vaccine diplomacy and shortages that suggest questionable priorities. If you're like our team, you have endured lockdown, social distancing, fear, anxiety, and maybe illness and hospitalisation; you may sadly know a friend, neighbour or loved one who has died. Maybe you lost your job, were furloughed, had to do your studies online, felt more and more isolated, and maybe even have suffered emotional or mental health issues, brought on by the most uncertain and frightening times globally since 1939-45. We hope you are recovering, doing your best to 'get back' to whatever normal means. But the trauma remains - it happened to us all, and it wasn't that long ago. Take your time, do your best, and don't feel pressured into pretending to be okay.
Here at BSPG, we're doing our best to keep working for you, our authors and readers. It's been incredibly challenging for most small businesses in the UK over the past 20 months, and even with some government support, many of the issues that are so irksome or worse, remain - including the gas shortages, supply chain breakdowns, and the missing 100,000 large lorry (truck, juggernaut) drivers that interconnect these isles and bring us our food, let alone paper supplies or books.
Add to that major bookstore closures for over 6 of the past 18 months, including over Christmas (when normally 50% of sales happen), sluggish retail recovery after the worst economic downturn in 300 years, and a turn to more commercial and feelgood books and a wider turn from more challenging books, and most of the smallish indie presses have faced incredible turbulence, and have risen to the challenge impressively, as best they can.
So, we're doing, yes, we're doing, barely, okay. Our small company has made it through some of the worst, but we are still owed money by a lot of shops, as it is taking time for people to all get back to the regular schedules.
What we need now is patience. We just need time, after what we hope is the worst of the storm, to slowly return to in-person launches (we have at least three planned for the next three months, the most in two years!), to getting our editorial schedules back in order, after months of missed work for our team as at various times various of us were ill, sometimes dangerously so, or took bereavement leave, or needed time to focus on family, to help those we loved in their times of need.
It hasn't been a normal time. It's gaslighting to now pretend it is all back to normal. It isn't. We've been tested, we've been wounded, we've been - sometimes - weakened. No false Nietzsche here. This isn't A Fish Called Wanda. This is real life. This small company is run by humans, recovering from a major disaster. We love what we do, we're resilient, and we're on the mend. But we won't pretend we'll meet all the deadlines we set in December 2019. The goal posts moved.
What we can promise is, when we tell you how we are, you'll know we mean it. We're ok, thanks. We really really look forward to 2022 and 2023, and getting all our books out, properly edited, proofread, and printed, so all our writers can enjoy the best possible live launches, readings and global distribution. Because, what we're doing is a very human labour of love.