Here we are… by SJV
It’s been well over a year since I last jotted down a few words for our Features page… but I couldn’t let our 10th anniversary go by without, dare I say, ‘reaching out’ to say hello.
What a year we’ve all had. I don’t think, as I posted my last column on the brink of my extended festive break in 2019, braced for the impact of a new decade, that I could ever have imagined how the next 14 months would pan out. I don’t think any of us could. But here we are.
It’s been said, time and again, just how ‘changed’ the world is. Maybe forever, but certainly for now. And as the days have rolled into weeks, and the weeks have rolled into months, those of us that can, take another deep breath, count to 10, and try to put our best foot forward.
For everyone whose life has been immeasurably changed – whether that’s through the loss of a loved one, the loss of an income, the loss of a sense of self – my thoughts, love and sympathy go to you. I’m well aware that I’m one of the lucky ones. I haven’t lost a family member or close friend. I haven’t lost my job. I haven’t lost my home or my business or my income. I haven’t had to turn my hand to home schooling. I don’t work in healthcare or social care or on a front line. I’m not a key worker, or a delivery person, or in essential retail. I can, and have been, working from home since 16th March 2020, all be it on a console table pushed up against a wall in the dark and cold hallway at the top of my stairs, with my back to the toilet. I’ve got food in the cupboard, fair to middling Zoom skills, and a canal on my doorstep. And I share my space with another person who’s very funny, isn’t a bully, does the hoovering, and rubs my bunions when they ache. I’m lucky. And I don’t take one bit of that luck for granted. Even if, at times, despite having nothing to complain about, I do feel miserable. And isolated. And bored. And frustrated. And anxious. And scared. And lonely.
But. And here’s the thing. It feels that, like never before, or certainly never in my memory, books have been my saviour. Not only are they the reason I still have a job, an income, a roof over my head and food in my cupboard, but they’ve given me something tangible to do for 12 hours a day – Monday to Friday – for the past 48 weeks. They’ve given me a purpose. A motivation. And a huge bucket of satisfaction. Even when, like the rest of the world, the book industry had to pivot through Lockdown 1, Lockdown 2 and now, still, Lockdown 3, we’ve kept on keeping on. Our authors have still written the words. Our publishing teams have still planned and scheduled and strategised and created. Our printers have kept printing. Our supply chain has kept supplying. Our retailers have, in the main, and despite all the challenges, been able to keep selling. And, crucially, readers have kept reading. That’s YOU. You’ve been the reason our industry will, hopefully, with a fair wind and a huge collective crossing of fingers, keep going through to the other side of this. Yes, it’s changed. Of COURSE it’s changed. EVERYTHING has changed. Everyone involved in our industry has had to adapt, evolve and innovate. We’ve been forced to make some tough choices, some unpopular choices, some heart-breaking choices. But you guys have kept buying books, kept reading books, kept championing and cheerleading and recommending books. And for that, I am truly grateful.
So today, on the 10th anniversary of www.booksandthecity.co.uk, the community we created FOR you, and only keep going BECAUSE of you, I want to say thank you. Thank you for every kind word. Every review. Coming to every event. Signing up to our newsletters. Taking part in our blog tours. Entering our competitions. Tweeting and instagramming and facebooking. Sharing your love for our authors, and their novels. Every single one of you is wonderful. I’m immensely proud of everything we’ve done here at Books and the City in the last 10 years – and, despite where we all are today, I’m feeling optimistic, positive, hopeful and, crucially, incredibly excited to see what the next decade will bring. I hope you will all join us on our journey, my friends…
Stay safe, stay warm, stay well.