As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to grip the globe, Buddhist publishers are among the many facing a challenging marketplace. Quarantine orders and social distancing guidelines have largely disrupted publishing operations as well as sales, but houses are finding ways to make up for lost ground.
Nikko Odiseos, president of Shambhala Publications in Boulder, Colo., pointed out strategies the press is taking to reach retailers and consumers during the pandemic. Shortly after the outbreak of Covid-19, Shambhala launched a weekly email outreach series, Take Heart, which focuses on issues surrounding the coronavirus and offers “encouragement for uncertain times.” It has more than 200,000 subscribers, according to Odiseos. The publisher is also offering free domestic shipping on orders from the Shambhala.com website, free digital resources from authors, and 40% off online courses, in addition to promoting its authors’ online events.
“We continue to fire on all cylinders with all 42 of our team working remotely, collaborating, and moving things along efficiently as possible,” Odiseos told PW. “Revenue from our online courses with our authors have doubled in March, mostly in the last 10 days, and our audio offerings are seeing a bump as well.”
Odiseos noted that backlist titles from religious and personal development authors, such as Pema Chodron and Russ Harris, have also seen a sales spike. “Amazon is prioritizing books on kid’s activities as well as ‘natural therapies,’ which includes meditation and mindfulness, all of which continue to ship quickly,” he said.
Parallax Press is also making up for losses in the physical marketplace via online specials. In addition to offering a 30% discount on children's and classroom books for all the families staying home and homeschooling at this time, the Berkeley, Calif., based publisher hosted an online summit with LionsRoar.com Buddhist magazine, which featured seven of its authors. Registered event attendees are receiving e-book offers and a 40% discount on those authors’ core backlist titles.
While Shambhala and Parallax have not yet adjusted on-sale dates for any titles, Wisdom Publications’ CEO/publisher Daniel Aitken said the press released some of its titles early—while it could ship from the Wisdom website. The press is now considering delaying the pub date for other soon-to-be-published books. “It has not exactly been business as usual,” Aitken observed.
The publisher is focusing on its digital offerings as well as its membership platform, while Wisdom authors are providing online meditation retreats based on their books. “This all has been extremely successful,” Aitken noted.