Happy Thanksgiving! Hope everyone had a wonderful, food- and family-filled holiday. Now it’s Black Friday, and on this, the biggest shopping day of the year, I’d like to make a special plea: buy books this holiday season. Not my books, I don’t mean, or even those of my fellow WU contributors. Just books. Fiction, nonfiction, picture books, cookbooks—any books.
These are such crazy economic times we’re living in, and I know we’ve all of us been affected, but the book industry has been hit especially hard. Sales are down, publishers aren’t turning a profit—and what’s worse, countless local independent book stores are being driven out of business.
And the thing is, writers, aspiring writers, readers, publishers and book sellers, we’re all in this together. We all need the book industry not just to survive, but to thrive. Obviously writers need people to buy their books or they won’t stay published long. But for the aspiring writers out there—it’s incredibly rare that a publisher actually makes a profit from a first time author’s book. You need the publishers to have a comfortable enough profit margin that they’re willing to take a chance on buying yours, on waiting to earn money until they—and you—have built your fledgling career. Really, we all need that. I can’t count the number of wonderful break-out books I’ve read from first-time authors. What a huge loss if simple economics had kept them from being published.
And we all need our local independent book sellers to stay in business, too. Debut and aspiring writers especially. You need your wonderful local bookstore to host your book signings, hand-sell your books, recommend you to every customer that comes through the door looking for a gift or their next great read. There are so, so many books published each year. Local bookstores are what keep debut authors from getting lost in the crowd—what keep the intimate, personal element alive in an industry that in this internet and mega-store age could so easily turn faceless.
So please, this holiday season, consider driving straight to your local bookstore to buy your gifts. It truly is one-stop shopping—where else can you find the perfect present for just about everyone on your list?
And as my holiday gift to all of you, I’d like to offer this added incentive: if you buy a book in the next month—say, before Dec. 21st, which is when my next WU post will appear—send me an e-mail (anna at annaelliottbooks dot com) telling me the title of the book and who you bought it for. I’ll have my husband plug the list of entrants into a random number generator and we’ll pick a winner (I really wish I could offer this to everyone, but babies and publishing contracts—in that order, pretty much—forbid) to whom I’ll offer to read and give feedback on either a query letter OR the first five pages of your work-in-progress, your choice. And for any non aspiring writers out there who want to enter anyway I can offer . . . hmm . . a recipe for fruitcake? No? Well, we’ll think of something.
Let’s all just buy books this year. Support our independents. And most of all, let’s keep the magic of reading alive.