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Saturday, 28 March 2020

Welcome to our Covid-19 Series!

A message from Dr David Reiter, CEO / Publisher, IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

Stay tuned as we dance between COVID-19 droplets for the weeks and months to come.

With so many businesses standing down employees, public events being cancelled and so many people retreating indoors with only the Internet as a lifeline to the outside world, it's hard to be optimistic about the future.

But there will be a future, though the shape of it post-pandemic is somewhat uncertain from the perspective of this bad dream that is the present.

Poets will continue to write, painters to paint, musicians to play in synchronicity on balconies or via Zoom and other apps. Many creatives actually start from a base line of advantage. They are often introverts who choose self isolation as their environment. And things of enduring beauty grow from that redoubt.

Creatives know resilience like the back of their hand. They can feel their way out of dark spaces without a torch. They will find a way to do what they do best in spite of the depressing headlines.

But of course they are not made of words, or pigments, or drum rolls. They need to eat, feed their children, keep a roof over their heads. Handouts from government buy them time but not a living.

That's where you come in. You can help by buying their books, their artworks, their songs. There's mutual benefit in that: they create the art, and you can share in it by expressing its value through your purchases.

In the Old Economy that predated the pandemic, you might go to book launches, gallery openings, open-air concerts, and buy their merchandise directly. You knew that those direct sales benefit artists the most, and your purchase somehow prolonged the emotion of your contact with them.

But people—even those well-off in the Old Economy—have fallen into the habit of sourcing artist content through the cheapest channels, sometimes not even paying for it at all. A whole generation has grown up with the attitude that everything online should be accessible for free.

The distance imposed by the Internet between artists and their audiences only encourages this sense of entitlement in people who "consume" art rather than supporting it through attendance and subscription.

What I'm suggesting is that, in the pandemic and post-pandemic New Economy, we should do our best, within our means, to support artists directly at points as high up the supply chain as possible.

In the case of authors and book illustrators, this could mean buying their work directly—either from the creatives themselves or their publishers' online stores. Next best option is to buy through your local independent bookshop, resisting the option to source the title from those discount sites that are now second nature to our buying habits.

Publishers have a role to play in this New Economy. We will be substituting virtual means of personalising our artists' contact with you, their audience. These new methods may include more blog and vlog posts, audio samples, and podcast interviews. There may be other channels yet to be invented that will bring our artists closer to you.

So, make it personal from now on. Express your interest in the creatives you follow by buying their work at the highest point in the supply chain as you can afford. Like and Comment on their posts, and by all means spread the word. 

We'll all feel better for it.