A round-up of key industry news in these challenging times. Apologies if the linked reports for some items are behind paywalls.

Quarto ‘pleased’ to post 2019 profit, but pandemic forces cost-cutting measures


Quarto has posted a trading update for its 2019 results, saying it expects revenues to slip 9% to $135.8m (2018: $149.3m) but will be returning a profit of $2.9m. However the company is putting in place immediate cost-saving measures as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, including reducing its output of books and a voluntary four-day week for all staff.

The coronavirus crisis is however causing problems, both Lau and Powell conceded. Lau said the group was “taking proactive measures to mitigate our operational risk and manage our business and cash flows” in the face of the pandemic, the impact of which on the economy long-term is expected to be “significant”.

Read more here.

Despite relaxing paywalls, publishers like Bloomberg, WSJ and The Atlantic see subscription spikes

USA: This is more about newspapers and journals than books, but still important for the book publishing industry.

Publishers are seeing a spike in subscriptions over the last four weeks in the U.S. and Europe, fueled by readers’ appetite to stay as informed as possible during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Bloomberg Media has witnessed record subscriber numbers since February, the average daily subscriber count is three times as high as usual, according to the publisher. Bloomberg, along with others like The Wall Street Journal, is putting virus-related content outside of its paywall. The Atlantic also had its single best week of subscriber growth despite coronavirus coverage not counting against its metered paywall.

Read more here.

Women’s Prize for Fiction awards ceremony postponed to September


The Women’s Prize for Fiction award ceremony has been postponed until September because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Organisers had planned to hold the ceremony on 3rd June but it has now been put back until 9th September. It marks the first postponement in the history of the award, which turns 25 this year.

The six-book shortlist will still be announced as planned on 22nd April but the shortlist readings event has also been put back until September.

In a statement on the prize’s website, founder Kate Mosse said a delayed real-life event was preferable to an online event sooner.

Because it’s our 25th – and we want not only to celebrate this year’s shortlist & winner, but also to say thank you to all the hundreds of people who’ve made the prize such a success over this past quarter century – we wanted to gather together and properly mark the occasion. Virtual events are amazing – and such clever things are happening – but we decided bringing everyone together was worth waiting for.

Read more here.

In this period of confinement aimed at curbing the Covid-19 epidemic, izneo and all of the BD comic book publishers wanted to provide reading solutions accessible to all


6000 albums from thirty publishers can be read for free unlimited for one month on the izneo.com site or the izneo applications for iOS, Android or Nintendo Switch and Android TV. And because it is not always easy to choose what to read, izneo Super-Readers and journalists from the 9eart site will regularly offer BD, Manga, Comics and Webtoon reading tips on the izneo site.

Read more here.  OP in French.

“The Moment We Have Been Dreading”: Coronavirus Lands Thanos-Sized Punch on Comic Shops


The specialty comic book market is facing something that could, without an appropriate response, prove decimating to the industry as a whole

“We have reached the moment we have been dreading,” said the email.

It was from Ed Greenberg, the owner of Collector’s Paradise, the comic shop which has three stores in the Los Angeles area. In an message to his customer base, he was reacting to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “Safer at Home” emergency order, which was unveiled Thursday and mandated non-essential services close.

“We have been selling comics for close to 26 years now, and this is truly the first time that we are uncertain about the future of our store, our industry and our favorite art form,” continued the email, which in many ways summed up the precarious state of the comic book retail business.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, comic shops had been struggling to reinvent themselves as sales slumped — but with social distancing, self-quarantining and the effects of COVID-19 changing the way the world works, the specialty comic book market is facing something that could, without an appropriate response, prove decimating to the industry as a whole.

Read more here.

How to make the most of your library during the coronavirus pandemic


In times of crisis, we return to stories.

There’s no better time to escape with a good book or movie, and with a library membership you can do just that — for free — without leaving home.

Even though libraries have closed because of coronavirus precautions, many librarians are still working to connect you to what you need, and their online resources are as ready for you as ever.

There are ebooks, audiobooks, e-comics, e-music, movies, virtual story time for kids, and a whole lot more.

Here’s how to make the most of your library from home.

Read more here.

Arts Council England announces £160m coronavirus emergency fund


Arts Council England (ACE) has announced a £160m emergency funding package to help artists and art organisations cope with the coronavirus crisis.

ACE is making the funds available to cultural organisations, freelancers and artists to survive the financial hardship brought on by the pandemic.

Read more here.

PRH increases revenues and profits 6.2% for 2019, with ‘strong’ performance in UK


Penguin Random House increased both its revenues and profits in 2019, according to parent company Bertelsmann, which said it would continue to expand the publisher’s businesses including through acquisition.

Thomas Rabe said the “good business performance” was driven by a number of successful measures, such as the expansion of the RTL Group’s streaming services (the goal is to reach five to seven million paying subscribers by 2025) and Arvato’s expansion of its e-commerce activities, while the Bertelsmann Education Group had doubled its earnings, benefiting from “continued high demand for digital educational offerings”.

He said of Penguin Random House the complete acquisition was an “important milestone” that “strengthens our core businesses in the long term”, after Pearson sold its remaining 25% stake in the business in December.

Rabe disclosed further: “We will continue to expand Penguin Random House’s businesses over the next few years, including through acquisitions.” It follows a year of Penguin Random House expanding its presence in South America, with its acquisition in May of the publishing group Ediciones Salamandra, operating in Spain and Latin America, and the purchase of the literature and educational publisher Editora Zahar in Brazil through Companhia das Letras.

Rabe added: “In this extraordinary situation, all media are of special societal and systemic relevance. In Germany, we are part of the critical infrastructure which must be maintained and supported, especially now. We provide authoritative information and entertainment to millions of people, who now face unprecedented disruption to their personal and professional lives in connection with curbing the spread of the coronavirus.”

Read more here.