The book publishing industry is, as my parents used to say about me when I’d get a little too lippy, which was a lot of the time but who’s counting, skating on thin ice. Layoffs, acquisition freezes, losses… publishers are feeling the effects of our current economic Hindenburg just like every other retailer. People just aren’t dropping cash the way they did during the glory spend-it-now-someone-else-will-clean-it-up-later days of yesteryear — not even for books.
Blogger Moonrat talks about the publishing crisis on her Editorial Ass blog in C[r]ash Flow (Or What Went Wrong in October in Book Publishing). According to Moonrat:
“The crux of the problem is that book publishing is a returnable industry. That means that say Big Chain Store (BCS) agrees to stock a book that my company publishes. They buy 100 copies at, say, $1 a piece (to be easy). They give me $100; I send them the books. Two months later, they didn’t sell any, so they send them back. I have to give them $100.”
The post inspired the creation of the Buy a Book, Save the World group on Facebook, tasked with spreading the word (get it? Books? Words? See, if you don’t get it, you totally need to read more, so you might as well sign up) about the importance of books and how we can all support authors, publishers, and readers by pledging to buy at least one book this holiday season (or more. No one will say no if you want to buy books for everyone on your list, or even just twenty books all for yourself). Author Karen Dionne has also taken up the cause, tracking book buys toward a one million book goal through her blog, When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Buy Books.
How Can We Help?
I’m all about anti-consumerism, especially when it comes to people that are willing to go into massive debt or worse — kill each other — to get the best bargain on a bunch of crap they don’t even need. And I think I speak for women everywhere when I say that we don’t need any more bath products, coffee mugs, nail polish sets, or vanilla-scented candles. Right, ladies?
But I have a different take on books. Yes, I’m an author, and soon I’ll depend on book sales to support life’s little luxuries like groceries and rent and an occasional Spinach Benedict at the Greek diner where my baby brother works. But more importantly, I’m a reader. I love love love books, and I don’t want them to go away ever.
Books have been my teachers. Through them I’ve fallen in love, believed in magic, dared to dream. Books have taken me around the world, around the corner, and deep within my own heart. They’ve made me cry (those are the best kind). They’ve stayed with me and haunted me long after I turned over the last page. Books have been a best friend, a silent partner, a shoulder on which to lean. I’ve shared them and passed them along and read them over and over again, always inspired, always encouraged, always grateful for the unique and meaningful stories that bring us all together.
That’s why I’m asking as both an author and a reader that if you’re financially able, you pledge to buy at least one book before the end of the holiday season. Just one. It can be a kids book or a cookbook or a romance novel or a boy book with explosions and blood and militant self-aware robots. Maybe you need to learn something for dummies, or read a classic for a class assignment, or indulge in a little Edward Cullen hot-vampire-boy-fantasizing in the break room at work when no one is watching.
Whatever your reading pleasure, please, just do it! And don’t forget to join us on Facebook at Buy a Book, Save the World and leave a comment for Karen Dionne to help her reach that one million book goal.
Thanks, everyone, and happy reading!