It is time to say something about how we plan to thank our readers. You’ve been there for us through this; every order, every message of support, every offer of help … It is time for us to tell you how we are going to repay that. Quite simply, without you we wouldn’t still be here.
In that late March week, when our book sales disappeared, I thought about the advice Andy Kirkpatrick gave me about big wall climbing: ‘Jon, something will go wrong. Don’t just rush headlong into a solution. Sit down, brew up and think about your options. Deal with the problem, adjust and carry on ... ’
And so it was. Something did go wrong and I’ve written a lot about the effects – often devastating on a small publishing business – that coronavirus has had. I also knew at some point it would be over and we would be able to get on with normal trading again. Publishing books and hassling you lot to buy them ... I pictured what that normal would be like afterwards and I set myself some aims, a set of reference points to make each decision by ...
Firstly, no one was to lose their job at Vertebrate; the company was going to put team welfare first. Vertebrate staff were going to be able to support their families first in the knowledge that their jobs were safe, no matter how long it took to get things right again.
The second guarantee we gave was to our authors. Many self-employed, many reliant on book sales, we said there would not be any reduction on their royalties; we’d keep to our schedules as best we could and keep to our promises for new books.
Thirdly, we wanted to strive to make our books as widely and easily available as we could. We hope we publish books that inspire and have a positive effect on people’s physical and mental well-being. Continuing to get books out and into readers’ hands was important to us.
Fourthly, it would be no good us coming out of this mess if our partners, suppliers and other stakeholders didn’t. Some, like our landlord and insurance company, really came through with some discounts and extended payment terms; while smaller suppliers we just carried on paying. We also tried to keep production going and therefore keep our suppliers busy as best we could. We bought what we could from independent businesses, bookshops etc., where possible. It is tempting in times like this to completely batten down the hatches but we took the decision to keep trading, keep printing and keep going.
So that was what we wanted to do: keep together our team, our authors, our friends and our readers and keep publishing books that promote healthy lifestyles and exercise – a great defence from this pandemic.
Did it work? Yes! I won’t pretend there weren’t times when I thought something would have to give. Three weeks of no ‘buy’ buttons on Amazon isn’t something I’ll forget in a hurry, or the day when we thought the post offices were going to shut completely.
Three things got us through – direct sales from our website, government support and some hard hours from the team. The team will get a doughnut – I may even get my mum to vote for Rishi (she’s in his constituency) – but most importantly it’s time to thank you lot.
We have three things we’d like to announce as way of thanks:
1. An offer for everyone – all the time.
We will always offer free UK shipping on our website and all our books will always be 20% off – forever!
(Special editions are excluded from this, as we know folk like the clothbound books, but we won’t make them any more expensive than they have to be.)
2. A free book will be sent out with every order between 15 June and 1 September.
That book is The 100 Greatest Climbing and Mountaineering Books– a list of the world’s top-voted mountain literature.
3. An offer for our enewsletter subscribers.
We will rebrand this our Vertebrate Adventure News and it will have the following benefits:
• Twenty-four-hour advance notice of new pre-order offers and releases.
• Special offers including signed books, free gifts and additional content.
• Free and automatic entry into monthly prize draws from our partner brands, including jackets, ropes, trail running shoes and other stuff you need!
• An additional 5% discount code on top of the 20% site discount.