We were really thrilled to be a sponsor of the SYP Scotland Conference this year and had the opportunity to write a post about how the pandemic has affected our publishing and how we are refreshing our plans and looking ahead to the future. We thought we’d share this post here too so you can find out more about what’s been happening behind-the-scenes over the last year.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the first thing that seemed to disappear for most people was control. There have been titanic changes to social interactions, approaches to working and how businesses operate. The publishing industry has not been untouched by this – the effects of COVID-19 have ricocheted throughout our sector, affecting both SME and conglomerate businesses nationwide with disruption permeating everything. Businesses have been forced to adapt, to reflect on why things have been run in a certain way and question whether they could be run differently in order to survive and flourish. All in an attempt to take control of what had suddenly become a very uncertain present and challenging future.
Small publishers are perfectly placed to change what they do and innovate quickly. They are also often built on the idea of doing things a little differently. An ability to alter business models has been crucial for the survival of all publishers during the pandemic. With schools shut, exams cancelled and all learning moved online, Bright Red transitioned to home working and a more digital approach in order to meet the new learning demands. Fast-tracking our digital mindset has been pivotal to navigating through the many, ongoing challenges the pandemic has created. With trade establishments feeling the full force of national lockdowns, having our own online shop and independent warehouse in Fife meant we could continue supplying learning materials to the thousands of students in need of our resources. We approached social media with renewed gusto, highlighting our award-winning (and free) online learning platform that in turn saw an uplift in print sales, which are so crucial for a small, independent, business.
For Scottish publishers, there’s been a definite shift towards becoming digital content creators and experience providers. In educational publishing, there has been an increased demand nationwide for learning material and entertainment for children/young adults and therefore, a call to meet those needs. Posting daily challenges, creating playlists of video content on our YouTube channel and updating our Digital Zone saw a surge of website traffic and sales, and also a wave of appreciation for providing resources that could help students remain on track. With our loyal customer base and support, we reshuffled our publishing plans, focussing on getting our backlist fully updated before we pushed forward with new titles (and exciting new product launches).
Although schools and shops remain closed (and exams have also been cancelled this year), we are looking forward to the months ahead with renewed hope and continuing with what we do best – publishing high-quality, bespoke books for the Scottish curriculum that fulfil a pressing need. As a small publisher, we are able to publish into niche subjects or subjects that have historically had smaller cohorts, making us stand out from our competitors. Our books are unique in their features and presentation – they put the student at the very heart of the content and we feel that shines from the pages of our books. We are thrilled to be in the process of producing sets of revision cards for National 5 subjects – something new for Scotland and a direct response from teacher feedback.
As Scotland navigates its way out of the pandemic, it is companies that have been able to adapt, to change their outlook and move with the times, utilising the benefits of a digital community, that will be most likely to survive and, ultimately, thrive.