Literature in lockdown has meant major shift in the way bookshops operate

  • The pandemic has changed the way we consume literature 
  • The book publishing industry has had to look for different ways to sell books during lockdown
  • Manchester Literature Festival will be online this year but will virtually bring people together through digital events

Over the past year, the coronavirus lockdown has had a huge impact on both people and businesses alike.

The pandemic has affected many local businesses negatively, with a number of them having to close due to the financial strain.

Debs Jordan, who works at Chorlton Bookshop, revealed that takings are “down massively” at the store and that they have had to adapt to survive in these uneasy times.

She said: “[Local businesses] are really important to the life of the high street and community, especially if shops get involved in the local community which ours does.

“It (lockdown) has shown how much people really appreciate coming into the shop – browsing, having a chat, etc.”

Like many local independent book shops, one way they have continued to operate despite the closure of their store is through the online initiate The Bookshop.

Described as a “life saver” by Debs, she explained how it works: “Our manager has recently become self-employed and without she wouldn’t have been able to survive.”

The business has also increased their social media presence and are now taking orders online.

The books are from 13 different categories, including home schooling, cooking, exercise, and spirituality and wellbeing.

The CEO of Bloomsbury, Nigel Newton, said: “It’s clear that as people’s lifestyles have changed during the pandemic, so has their media consumption.

“Books are playing an important role for many right now, and we can see that people’s tastes are changing depending on their circumstances.”

Manchester Literature Festival, which will be running for its 15th year after its inception in 2006 with the aim to promote Manchester as a cultural hub, will be operating completely online this year due to the pandemic.

The object of the Festival is to provide a space for contemporary writers to experiment showcasing their talent.

Roger Robinson, the winner of the 2019 TS Elliot award, performed four new commissions in March and held a Q&A with Malika Booker, whose poem The Little Miracles won the Best Single Poem in the Forward Prizes for Poetry 2020.

On 8 April, Caleb Femi, one of two poets shortlisted for the 2021 Rathbones Folio Prize, will be performing a new commission especially written for the Manchester Literature Festival which focuses on themes of isolation during the national lockdown.

Other renown or emerging poets and writers such as Kazuo Ishiguro, Jackie Kay, Natalie Diaz, Jhumpa Lahiri and Kamila Shamsie will also be performing at the annual event.