As our governing officials turn their attention to how to reopen our nation after the coronavirus recedes, this is a good time for writers to ask themselves, What’s next? What kind of books will consumers want to buy?
A Snapshot of Now
The seeds of readers’ intentions generally are found in today. Our world has been rocked. Everyone I talk to acknowledges that the future won’t look like the past. That’s partly because we aren’t the same as the person we were before we saw the agonizing scenes on our television screens and read of the suffering endured by those who are recovering from COVID-19. The statistics are staggering and beyond our ability to take in.
We now know what a pandemic can do to the health system and to the economy. We no longer expect to go to the grocery store and find the shelves burgeoning with everything we can imagine and even some things we can’t imagine what others use those ingredients for.
Ultimately, as a friend of mine said, “We’ve lost our innocence.”
But families also have found the joy of being together, sharing mealtimes rather than rushing off to the next soccer game. And new hobbies have sprung up, not to mention a renaissance of baking (yeast is much sought after and seldom found).
My sense is that people will be more home bodies even once we’re free to roam. We’ve established the habit of staying home, and habits are hard to break. Plus we’ve discovered ways to keep our creativity flowing and most likely we’ll continue to pursue some of those outlets.
As I read our local newspaper today, I noted a variety of ways people are expressing themselves.
- Victory gardens. When you’ve been to the grocery store’s produce section and had to grab the last of the lettuce, onions, and garlic, it makes an impression on you. You start to think about how you wished you had a garden that would have supplied you with at least some of your veggies. Not to mention the assurance of knowing the person who handled your produce (you!). (And, yes, I live in California, where it’s time to plant gardens.)
- Sewing. We’ve all seen media features on people taking to their sewing machines to make face masks–some quite arty, others just pragmatic. But sewing goes beyond face masks, as people find it’s a soothing activity that requires focus and creativity in choosing what to make the fabrics to use. This weekend I discovered one of my grown daughters purchased a sewing machine and an ice cream maker, although she’s not a sewer or a cook. She’s looking for diversion.
Some Activities That Might Not Have Occurred to You
- Jigsaw puzzles. A local toy store, which is offering curbside pickup, reports puzzle sales are triple of last year’s. The owner, Steven Elliott, reports that the most popular size of puzzles are those with 1,000 to 2,000 pieces. The most popular subjects are puppies, kittens, nature, and the Golden Gate Bridge (a local icon for us). He points out that one person can work on a puzzle, or the whole family. And it’s not a project that’s complete after an hour’s investment. A puzzle “focuses your attention and takes your mind off other worries,” Elliott observes. He has thousands of dollars invested in puzzles that are on back order–proof that the hobby is nationwide. (Plus, ordering a puzzle from Amazon is a challenge; most are on back order.)
- Pottery. Two local artists decided to provide a creative outlet for kids/adults/families by creating a Quarantine Clay Kit. The kit includes clay, a tool kit, and instructions on how to create pottery art–a mask, a mug, or a pot. Customers order online, drive by to pick up their kits, and then drop off their pieces to be fired and glazed in the colors they choose. The artists have sold 250 kits so far, and 20 organizations around the country have asked for help in setting up their own clubs.
What’s Next for Books?
This flowering of interest in hobbies, arts, and crafts is likely to provide a boon for books that instruct readers on how to become more proficient and creative at their endeavor. The renewed discovery of how fun and diverting cooking and baking can be already has resulted in increased sales for cookbooks.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention an upsurge in children’s books. Not just books that make homeschooling more interesting for both child and parent, but also books for pure enjoyment. It’s a moment when a book-loving parent can encourage a child to fall in love with the magic of a great read.
I’ve just taken a peek at one aspect of how life has changed and how that will affect what books will be purchased in the upcoming few years. Has the pandemic affected what type of book you will be buying? What other types of books do you think readers will be searching for?
How will the pandemic affect the types of books people will buy? Click to tweet.
What’s next for books as we contemplate a post stay-at-home world? Click to tweet.