The holidays are here, and everyone is out and about buying holiday gifts. Well, almost everyone. I wait until the last minute. The economy is bad, there's no doubt, and people are cutting back. But what is taking a huge hit that no one talks about are the bookstores. I hadn't thought much about that, until I got the following letter from the president of the Author's Guild:
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"I've been talking to booksellers lately who report that times are hard. And local booksellers aren't known for vast reserves of capital, so a serious dip in sales can be devastating. Booksellers don't lose enough money, however, to receive congressional attention. A government bailout isn't in the cards.
We don't want bookstores to die. Authors need them, and so do neighborhoods. So let's mount a book-buying splurge. Get your friends together, go to your local bookstore and have a book-buying party. Buy the rest of your Christmas presents, but that's just for starters. Clear out the mysteries, wrap up the histories, beam up the science fiction! Round up the westerns, go crazy for self-help, say yes to the university press books! Get a load of those coffee-table books, fatten up on slim volumes of verse, and take a chance on romance!
There will be birthdays in the next twelve months; books keep well; they're easy to wrap: buy those books now. Buy replacements for any books looking raggedy on your shelves. Stockpile children's books as gifts for friends who look like they may eventually give birth. Hold off on the flat-screen TV and the GPS (they'll be cheaper after Christmas) and buy many, many books. Then tell the grateful booksellers, who by this time will be hanging onto your legs begging you to stay and live with their cat in the stockroom: "Got to move on, folks. Got some books to write now. You see...we're the Authors Guild."
Enjoy the holidays.
Roy Blount Jr.
So if you're still buying presents, consider books. As with so few things in life, no matter who you are buying them for, one size fits all.
PS: I don't agree with replacing raggedy books, just so you know! To me, a raggedy book shows just how well-read, and just how vital, the book is to one's collection.