Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Best Gift You Can Give

As almost everyone is aware, the economy is in serious trouble. We hear daily reports of failing banks, massive layoffs, stock prices dropping, etc. The economic crisis has also hit the publishing industry.

The big publishing houses are laying off staff; indie presses are closing; and bookstores are showing record losses. All of this is grim news for the writer shopping a first-time book to agents and/or publishers. What can you do, as a writer, to help the publishing industry (and provide future markets for your work)?

Buy a book.

One of the reasons publishers are suffering is that book publishing is a returnable industry. Stores are allowed to return unsold books for a full refund. It works this way: Major Bookstore orders 50 books from Happy Publishing. They pay Happy Publishing $50. Three months later, Major Bookstore hasn't sold any of the books. They return the books (usually with covers damaged to mark them as previously purchased) to Happy Publishing for the full refund of $50. Happy Publishing eats the cost of producing and marketing 50 books. This means that Happy Publishing is going to have to cut costs to make up for the loss. What do they do? Publish fewer books.

And that affects you, the writer. Your unpublished book that is making the rounds has just lost a potential market.

Returns affect every level of the book publishing industry. Returns for a romance line can create cuts in the cookbook line.

What can you do to keep the publishing industry alive?

Buy a book this holiday season.

Buy a cookbook, a novel, a self-help book, or a children's book.

Buy your books online or in a store. Every book purchase reduces the rate of returns.

DON'T buy gift cards, address books, blank books, or those beautiful lined notebooks used for personal journals.

DO buy a book that has text and/or pictures.

A book is relatively inexpensive and provides hours of pleasure, entertainment, or education. A book lasts longer than most video games. A book can be inscribed with a personal note to the receiver. A book inspires the imagination and challenges the intellect.

This year, every single person on my gift list will receive at least one book.

The "Buy A Book" campaign is spreading around the Internet. If you are a writer and have a blog or Website, pass it on: Buy A Book!

To read more about how book returns affect the publishing industry, go here.

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