Reflections on publishing during a pandemic

Oct 23, 2020

Collectively, the Page Two team has experienced some tough times in book publishing. It’s a precarious industry that’s gone through a lot of transformation and upheaval in recent years. But nothing could have prepared us for what 2020 had in store.

Since mid-March, we’ve been sending our authors regular updates on the book retail market and supply chain. Through our news updates, we’ve also celebrated the work of Page Two authors who have bravely launched books, initiated new projects, or shifted their marketing or editorial plans as pandemic realities sunk in. Some have contributed to the urgent global conversations about racism, diversity, and inclusion, and others have touched us with acts of generosity and kindness that we will remember long after the painful memories have gone.

But we haven’t yet shared with you how our company and team have navigated the pandemic, and what lies ahead for Page Two. Partway into the last quarter of this crazy year, it feels like the right time to do that. Here is what we’ve been up to the past seven months:

We came together

From our home offices (which often double as kitchen tables and living room couches), with kids and pets and partners doubling as Zoom backgrounds, we met as a team and talked. We got raw and honest. We shared our fears. We held daily meetings to stay connected and kept our company Slack channels full of humor and kind words. We rolled up our sleeves. We worked hard, and with heart.

We built new things

Determined not to let the pandemic stall our growth, we embarked on some new initiatives, several of which will be announced soon:

  • We laid the groundwork for a new publishing program that will allow us to support the work of Indigenous entrepreneurs and professionals in a robust and dedicated way;
  • We began building a custom audiobook program that allows us to manage the audiobook creation process as closely, and with as much care, as our print books and ebooks; 
  • We launched an ebook bulk sales offering to support our authors who are doing more virtual events and finding new opportunities to sell digital books in volume to groups and organizations;
  • We hired three new staff members (Chris Brandt, Meghan O’Neill, and Madison Taylor) into full-time positions to run our dynamic new marketing program; promoted Gabrielle Narsted to Director of Operations; welcomed our project manager Rony Ganon back from maternity leave; hired into a permanent position Caela Moffet, who had been covering Rony’s maternity leave; cheered on our editorial director Amanda Lewis as she was awarded our country’s most prestigious editorial award; and celebrated our creative director Peter Cocking’s two-award win at the Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design. 
We remembered why we got into this crazy business in the first place

While most of us went into publishing for the love of books, at Page Two, we’ve realized that our real love is for our authors. We discovered this long ago, but it’s struck us forcefully during the pandemic. A few standout moments include:

  • Joe Gold, who is writing the story of his parents’ survival through the Holocaust, shared with us what the concept of “lockdown” would have meant to his Jewish family in Eastern Europe when the Nazis took power. 
  • Melanie Parish paused a critical sales meeting for her book The Experimental Leader to express empathy for a Page Two staff member who was taking the call outside in the cold because there was no quiet space inside her home.
  • Heather Plett held a virtual circle on her launch day to bless her book, The Art of Holding Space, as it made its way into the world, and it was one of the most moving book events we’ve experienced, live or online.

We don’t know what lies ahead in the remainder of 2020, but we’ll be laser-focused on doing what we love, and doing it well. We’re wishing each one of you health, safety, and a good book (or five) to cosy up with as fall kicks into gear.