Speakers on the Book Manufacturers Institute trade panel agreed that the Covid-19 experience will likely permanently change the way consumers shop for books and that all aspects of publishing will need to adapt to the new landscape, BMI executive director Matt Baehr told PW in recapping an hour-long session held October 26. The trade panel was one of a series of sessions BMI is holding this fall as a replacement for its annual conference, which was canceled because of the pandemic.

Dan Cullen, senior strategy officer for the American Booksellers Association, said that as independent booksellers have made changes to their business models—after being forced to close during lockdowns—by adding curbside pickup and e-commerce options, stores will continue to operate with an omnichannel approach after Covid-19 passes. Joe Upton of Gasch Printing noted that he believes Covid-19 has changed some consumer behavior as well, Baehr reported.

In the trade market, the coronavirus has led to more direct-to-consumer sales, which in turn has led to greater adoption of print-on-demand by publishers, according to Baehr. Greater use of coursepacks by colleges and more homeschooling by grade school parents are also contributing to more interest in POD.

BISG executive director Brian O’Leary provided a recap of sales trends so far this year, including the shift to more online sales. He said that if the shift to greater online sales is permanent, the industry should consider using the existing network of bricks-and-mortar stores to encourage more customers to buy online and pickup at the store store or via curbside pickup in order to support indie bookstores, rather than using the direct-to-consumer Amazon model, which bypasses physical stores.