Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Friday, November 14, 2008

Make Books A Priority

There's been a lot of buzz around my blogroll lately about the depressing state of publishing, and about ways we can all work to help (or even save) the world we work in.

Things are bad. No amount of sugarcoating can change that. I won't go into how it got that way or why I think some of this is a vicious circle that feeds on itself. I will talk today about things we can do to help the industry, and maybe ourselves, out a bit.

A few ideas I've heard and that I have:

- Buy a book - any book. If each writer bought one book this week, it wouldn't save the industry but it would go a long way toward showing the industry that books aren't dead (and never should be).

- Skimp a little to buy that book if you have to. Around here a standard paperback runs about $8 at the grocery store (sometimes if I'm lucky $7). Bigger paperbacks run around $16. Big hardcovers are about $30. I know that most of you already know what books cost in your own area, but I'm working up to a point here. The point is that most people spend at least $8 on lunch for themselves. If you're into fastfood, it's $8 easy. If you're more into a sit-down experience, you're looking at $16 - after the tax and tip. If you're dining with friends, $30. If you miss one meal, you'll have enough and if you just cut back to tuna, you'll probably be able to make up the cost of one book in two or three days. A little skimping goes a long way.

- Make books and reading a priority, not just for you but for those around you. Try to get other people as excited about a new book as they would be about a new movie. If you've got kids, take the Wii controller out of their hands, and shove a book in. Take a book to grandma and read it to her if you have to.

- Find ways to infuse your own enthusiasm about the industry into other people. Write a blog encouraging people to read a new book. If you know someone whose book is about to release, shout it up. (BTW, Karin Tabke's latest: Have Yourself a Naughty Little Santa just released! Know any women? Sure you do. Buy them a copy. Better yet, show them yours, say 'neener neener neener' and tell them to get their own.) If you've recently read a really great book, chat it up with store clerks and neighbors and strangers in the park. I've sold more books to the cashiers at my grocery store than I can count. I read 'em, I chat 'em up, they go to the rack and buy them.

- Read. No matter how busy you are, approach reading like you do writing. Set aside a certain amount of time to read every day. (I'm guilty of not doing this lately, but I really need to get back to it.) Shut off that sitcom, and spend the half hour reading instead. Put the kids down for a nap and instead of picking up a living room that's just going to be a disaster again when they wake up, read. Brown bag it, and read on your lunch hour. Take a book to your next doctor's appointment instead of thumbing through their ancient magazines. (Which works two-fold. You read, and other people see you reading which might give them the idea to get a book themselves.)

Anyway, no matter what you do, do something. If you want to see new authors on the shelves next year, or the year after, or ever... If you value the printed word... If you're a writer and are worried about ever getting published (or ever getting published again)... DO SOMETHING TO HELP.

Just to put my money where my mouth is, I bought two books yesterday. Night Secrets by Cherry Adair for my daughter and Crossfire by JoAnn Ross for myself. (Cost me about $17 - which means no Pizza Hut tonight. I'll live. In fact, my ever-widening ass will thank me for it later.)

What are you doing to help the industry (and yourself, if you're a writer)? Have you bought any books this week? Help a writer along and leave the titles in the comments.



Kristin B said...

Bout 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, and An Abundance of Katherines by John Green at an event they held last night. And got both signed.

As an aside, my collection of signed books has quadrupled this year. An easy feat, since prior to '08, I'd attended all of one signing.

Kristen Painter said...

I bought three books from three authors I've never read before this week!