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An Ode to Publishing, After a Year Like 2020


Belle singing on a ladder on a book shelf in Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

2020 has been … a lot. That goes without saying.

But as far as publishing goes, it’s been an even rougher year that’s seen several closed imprints, publishing house mergers that could spell disaster for authors and readers alike, and the end of BookExpo and BookCon.

Even more difficult has been the landscape that authors have had to deal with during 2020. Many new authors found their debuts eclipsed by the chaotic goings on that we as a society have had to grapple with seemingly every month. And for indie bookstores, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a huge toll, with many stores in danger of shuttering for good.

A rough, heavy, and truly unpredictable year, but in spite of it all, books have continued to work the magic they’ve always done: inspire, heal, delight, andmore often than notcreate beautiful and necessary conversation.

I’ve observed so many people fall back in love with reading this year, and seek solace within the pages of a book when the real world became too difficult to bear. There’ve also been so many who’ve been inspired to take a stab at crafting words and weaving tales, creating in the process beautiful art—and beautiful friendships.

During a time where physical connection has been nearly nonexistent, the bonds that have been formed out of a good book and shared love of reading have produced the most wholesome domino effect that has (at least in my opinion) made it feel like we’re less alone, and not as isolated as we once were.

Though there are still many hurdles to overcome before this year is over, let this be a verbal token of appreciation to all the authors, publishers, editors, booksellers, and readers out there. Because of them, we’ve been blessed with the opportunities to discover new stories, new perspectives, and gain wisdom throughout it all.

And mind you, it is no small feat to publish a book, especially during a year such as this. And it’s even harder to captivate an audience that has truthfully had their attention spans stretched over many different channels these past months. So to see all the wonder and creativity that has still been sown through books speaks volumes. Books are important, and more than ever they’ve been a vehicle for positivity (and in many cases) progressive and well needed change. Not to mention a reminder of the magic that still exists, however subtle, in our lives and in our imaginations.

Though 2020 has been plot twist after plot twist, there’ve been so much grace, compassion, and positivity within the community, and it is my hope that there will only be more support, more stability, and best of all more successes for  2021.

(image: Free Pik)

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Larissa Irankunda (she/her) is an East African star child and writer based in Brooklyn. Fantasy and Science-Fiction are her first loves, and her writing focuses on amplifying diversity and inclusion in storytelling. You are most likely to find her nose-deep in a good book, or professing her love for Danny Devito and Jeff Goldblum on the interwebs.