Time travel

Had enough of 2020? James Evelegh transports himself to August 2021 and reports all is well…

By James Evelegh

Time travel
Photograph: Tatyana Dobreva on Unsplash

This time last year, I was sipping margaritas by the pool in Mexico, enjoying the sun, the food, the drink and the tiny bit of culture our kids permitted. Happy memories.

This year. Ummm. No overseas holiday. In fact, not much in the way of holiday at all…

But rather than wallow in self-pity, I thought I would transport myself forward twelve months to a happier place, August 2021. The Oxford University / AstraZeneca vaccine had passed all its trials in the autumn and had been successfully rolled out over the winter, meaning that the dreaded Covid-19 was no more. Hooray!

I’m on a city break, Rome would be nice, enjoying an early evening Bellini in a bar near the coliseum and thinking about how far publishing has come in the last six months:

  1. Flexi-working is now the norm: The lockdown period had shown what could be achieved with remote working, but it had also demonstrated the value of an office environment where people can meet and interact. So, publishers have now embraced more flexible working practices giving their employees a much healthier work / life balance: much more working from home, but regular meet-ups in the office too.
  2. Face-to-face events have returned bigger and better: The events of 2020 proved beyond doubt that nothing beats the face-to-face experience. Publishers are reporting increased revenues from record attendances at awards, conferences and exhibitions.
  3. We all work more efficiently now: The experience of remote working had shone a spotlight on publisher workflows and some of the higgledy-piggledy systems we used. No longer. Publishers bit the bullet and installed more powerful, flexible and transparent cloud-based systems, an investment that has already paid for itself many times over through greater productivity. The process of creating and editing content is now virtually hassle free for most publishers.
  4. We are now more agile as an industry: 2020 unleashed a wave of innovation as publishers sought new ways of connecting with their audiences in the most challenging of circumstances. New products and formats were taken to market in record time. That agility and innovation have endured and are now hard-wired into publishing culture, making publishing a much more vibrant and attractive sector to work in. Publishing has become a career young people aspire to once again.
  5. Renewed hunger for our content: The pandemic led many people to take up hobbies, learn new skills, get fitter and make the most of what life has to offer. This has led to renewed demand for our specialist content and expertise and sales of consumer media have gone through the roof.
  6. Press freedom is cherished once more: President Joe Biden, six months into his term, has recommitted the US to its proud first amendment traditions and is leading a global push-back against encroachments into press freedom and the persecution of journalists and is being given enthusiastic support by the UK government.

As I finish my cocktail and contemplate another, I reflect that 2020 was traumatic and challenging, but publishing has emerged from it, a little leaner perhaps, but well placed to thrive in the exciting post-Covid era.

Bring it on!

The process of creating and editing content is now virtually hassle free for most publishers.

This article was first published in InPublishing magazine. If you would like to be added to the free mailing list, please register here.