It cannot be stressed strongly enough that the global publishing industry is just that: global. And if we’re serious about participating in this Global New Renaissance unfolding we need to face up to the reality that the modern publishing world operates 24/7, 365 days a year.
Perhaps last century – and even before the last decade – this was no big deal. Publishing moved at such a glacial pace that a long holiday over Christmas and the New Year was not just a welcome (and of course much-deserved) break, but one shared by pretty much everyone else in our industrysphere.
New York, Toronto, London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Canberra… Hey, we’re all off work together. The rest of the world is just a sideshow, right?
Well, maybe in the twentieth century, and even in 2010. But days away from 2020 the global publishing industry is digitally interconnected and interdependent in ways unimaginable as this decade began. And as we start the 2020s that interconnection and interdependence will multiply manyfold.
When western publishing closes its doors for two weeks, as now, because “there’s nothing happening”, we do so in the knowledge that that is only partially true. Bookstores will be open most days – and a few books might even be sold on the hallowed Christmas and New Years days where some outlets will be open. And online of course shoppers never sleep. Orders can be placed online for print books any time, any date, and of course ebooks can not just be bought but also delivered at any time, any date.
But when we shut ourselves off from the wider world to take our seasonal and public holiday breaks we are also shutting ourselves out of opportunities and developments in other parts of the world that do not observe our own customs, traditions and rituals.
I’ve cited a few examples in recent TNPS posts of significant book fairs happening around the world, just by way of example and as a reminder of the global nature of 21st century publishing.
Take Pakistan, for example, where the week-long Islamabad Museum Book Fair kicks of, starting today, December 25.
Urdu Point reports,
A week long Book Fair will begin here at Islamabad Museum from Wednesday featuring national and international publications for book lovers, teachers, researchers and students.
Organised under Federal Department of Archeology and Museums, the event will run until December 31.
By Pakistan standards the literary event is a small one. The main book fairs in Lahore and Karachi can draw crowds of up to a half million each. The most recent Karachi fair finished earlier this month with a turnout of 400,000.
The significance of the Islamabad Museum Fair for us today is simply to ram home the point that our western calendar and festivals, while influential around the world, do not determine the world.
To those who are enjoying a welcome break or celebrating the religious or secular delights of the festive season, we at TNPS wish you well. But spare a thought for those in our industry and beyond for whom Christmas is just another working day, and for whom our New Year is not their New Year.
It’s for that reason that TNPS comes to you pretty much everyday, including today, Christmas Day. (Any misses are due to internet or electricity outages keeping me offline – as regulars will know, I write this from West Africa.)