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Writer and Artyness columnist Barbara Henderson has a new assignment – and talking to some publishers, she hopes readers can support them ....

By Barbara Henderson

What a whirlwind! As the new writer in residence at the iconic Forth Bridge, I spent last Sunday chatting to bridge visitors in North Queensferry.

Barbara Henderson.
Barbara Henderson.

Apart from a dozen or so live events already planned and funded, the residency will be flexible.

A new book project is in the early planning stages, and so much can be done remotely that I may not, contrary to my family’s fears, make the A9 my temporary place of abode.

I am excited about this new chapter in my writing journey, but simultaneously almost paralysed by the possibilities. Still, forward we go.

This made me think about the industry I am part of. How do publishers move forward from here? And how can we, as book lovers, support them best? I asked three north of Scotland publishers for their thoughts.

Managing director of Sandstone Press, Bob Davidson, with his award for 2014 Saltire Society Publisher of the Year.
Managing director of Sandstone Press, Bob Davidson, with his award for 2014 Saltire Society Publisher of the Year.

Bob Davidson of Sandstone Presssaid: “Publishing is a difficult artform with low margins, high risk, and slow returns. No wonder the pandemic cut such a swathe through the industry; now compounded by print costs that are ascending like an Apollo rocket and a cost-of-living crisis that is emptying everyone’s pockets. Add to this the problems that our great friends at Waterstones are experiencing while their new ordering systems bed down and we have a perfect storm times three. Readers should not despair for their reading habit though. Instead they should, please, consider buying directly from the publishers’ online shops. Sandstone’s is at sandstonepress.square.site/ and copies are delivered directly from the warehouse.”

Anne Glennie of Cranachan Publishing (www.cranachanpublishing.co.uk/shop/) agrees: “As we move into the pre-Christmas period, the key trading season for all bookshops, I’m acutely aware that given the current financial climate and difficulties that people will be facing, that it’s highly likely book sales are going to be significantly impacted. Books make the perfect, personal present – so if you are able to buy gifts this year, please support your local bookshops, authors and publishers if you can – your choices make a difference.”

Keith Whittles of Whittles Publishing in Caithness (www.whittlespublishing.com/books.asp) adds: “Despite the obvious challenges that everyone faces, additional factors include the rocketing price of paper, Brexit hangovers, and the struggle to be heard in this crazy world. We rely on the local population to continue buying our books and hope they will mention us as and when, and anywhere, they get the opportunity! How about The Immeasurable Wilds (includes travelling over the Ord by horse and cart a couple of hundred years ago!) or The A to Z of Whisky Place Names doing exactly what it says on the bottle!”

There we have it: the way forward is to buy books, but you probably already knew that.

Also see: Margaret Chrystall: Sandstone in my suitcase in whatson-north.co.uk

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