As in "in the black." As in "profitable." This is the hope of all retailers every year of course, but a lot of us are crossing even more fingers and toes than usual. And for those of us in the Boston area (and many other parts of the country, I hear), this past weekend was a serious optimism damper. It was the WEEKEND BEFORE CHRISTMAS, which should have spelled retail manna, but three consecutive days of terrible winter weather saw relatively few area cash registers ringing.
All of this is making me think for the umpteenth time of the holiday message sent out this year by Roy Blount Jr., president of the Authors Guild, which has been getting a lot of circulation in bookselling circles. In case you haven’t seen it or need reminding of Roy’s increasingly-important message, I’m reprinting it here for you with an exhortation to PLEASE help us hard-working booksellers make this holiday season (and this year) a black one — especially those of us who’ve just spent three days in the white.
Holiday Message from Roy Blount Jr.:
Buy Books From Your Local Bookstore, Now
December 11, 2008. 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.
President, Authors Guild