Publishing’s Responsibility Amid the Cost of Living Crisis
By Hayley Cadel, Yashika M., Alexandra Constable, and Maisie Clarke
The cost of living crisis is affecting the majority of those living in the UK, seeing prices rise and day-to-day living becoming more expensive. In light of this, in the book world many publishers, libraries, and authors are doing their bit to try and ease the squeeze on our wallets. Despite the bleakness of the topic, it has been an important focus for many in the industry of books. For example, The Guardian reported that 60% of libraries across England, Wales, and Scotland will be trying to take part in a “warm bank” scheme, which would provide shelter and warmth for those in need, a resourceful way of making sure the vulnerable are protected. Furthermore, a large number of libraries throughout the UK have stopped charging for the late return of books in order to encourage people to visit their library more and to not add to the monetary difficulties many are facing.
With fuel prices going up at unprecedented levels, any form of energy conservation is an imperative in society right now. EDF claims that we spend on average, a whopping £175 on food every month. To make matters worse, using ovens and microwaves consumes twice as much electricity as the stove. To tackle this issue, people are now turning to low-cost recipes and saving energy in the process. Recent publications in the culinary world have come to our rescue and have helped provide a sensible and sustainable way dealing with the energy crisis at hand whilst not encouraging a compromise on basic food needs. Books like One Pot: Three Ways by Rachel Ama, The Doctor’s Kitchen by Rupy Aujla and The Green Roasting Tin by Rukmini Iyer are just a few examples of culinary masterpieces that offer constructive solutions and talk about modernseed forms of cooking that result in energy reduction. The Airfryer Cookbook written by Clare Andrews and published by Michael Joseph is one of the most anticipated reads of 2023. The book emphasises energy saving recipes and sustainable cooking. It details its recipes around an air fryer which paves the way towards saving costs whilst simultaneously creating a healthy, balanced diet.
A rise in those talking about ways to combat the cost of living crisis in the kitchen sees backlist titles rising through the charts once more. An example of such a title is Low Cost Living: Live Better, Spend Less by John Harrison originally published in 2009. Recently the book has experienced a resurgence in popularity, presumably contributed to by the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent economic crisis in the UK. The book dwells into a less consumerist, more economically efficient and ecological lifestyle. The first part of the book covers culinary aspects of a low-cost life with other parts covering general life where savings can be made. Another book, The Cost of Living Crisis: Time to End Economic Justice by Micheal Calderbank was published in 2015. It explored similar topics advising the audience on methods to reduce daily energy consumption and save costs. Finally, the book gives political advice on amending daily costs and examines why the costs have risen for the consumer.
Aside from offering resources to readers to ease the burden, publishers have the ability to empower readers also, with a forward-looking view of the future. Published this year by Verso, Owning the Future by Adrienne Buller and Mathew Lawrence which discusses ownership, its increase since the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating impact on the environment and democracy. Alternatively, dealing with politics more head-on, Isabel Hardman’s Why We Get the Wrong Politicians, in which she examines why the public get political leaders they are so unhappy with, whilst promising the reader a vision of “a future with a better government.” Publishers not only have the ability to educate and help readers during the crisis, but can also publish books which encourage readers to exercise their democratic power. For books which directly tackle this, smaller publishers can be the perfect one-stop shop, with publishers such as Verso which positions itself as “the largest independent, radical publishing house” in the UK, their series Verso Futures addresses the limits of political and social possibility to imagine a revolutionary future.
We would like to leave you with another suggestion we think you should add to your reading list that bears relevance to the current socio-economic climate. Christine Westhead’s 2022 Cost of Living Crisis: How to Survive it and Get Out of Debt is an informative and valuable read for anyone looking to improve their methods of saving and lowering their regular outgoings. It is one of multiple books Westhead has written with the theme of economic self-help, and is definitely one to add to your list if you’re searching for some advice!