Monday, December 15, 2008

Bailout for Book Industry

Humorist, author (his book on the Pittsburgh Steelers, About Three Bricks Shy of a Load, is one of the best sports books ever written), and president of the Authors Guild, Roy Blunt Jr., has penned a letter that should be read by every shopper this holiday season. Hope plenty of consumers take Mr. Blount's words to heart in the coming days:

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.
Authors Guild

The Guild's staff informs me that many of you are writing to ask whether you can forward and post my holiday message encouraging orgiastic book-buying. Yes! Forward! Yes! Post! Sound the clarion call to every corner of the Internet: Hang in there, bookstores! We're coming! And we're coming to buy! To buy what? To buy books! Gimme a B! B! Gimme an O! O! Gimme another O! Another O! Gimme a K! K! Gimme an S! F! No, not an F, an S. We're spelling BOOKS!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Let it Snow!

For the sixth year, I participated in the Indiana Historical Society's annual Holiday Author Fair at the Indiana History Center. This year, I shared a table with Geoff Paddock, author of the IHS Press book Indiana Political Heroes. Since I worked on the book with Geoff, and on the essays in the book that also appeared in Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History, we had a good time. IHS photographer David Turk snapped this photo of us as we held up our recent tomes.

Geoff almost didn't make the event on Saturday, December 6, due to the snow that blanketed the state. He had a harrowing trip from Fort Wayne to Indianapolis and saw a number of vehicles slide off the highway. The snow may have prevented some people from attending, but there was a steady crowd most of the day and the readers seemed pleased to be able to talk with and get books signed by approximately ninety Indiana authors.

John Beineke, author of the youth biography Going over all the Hurdles: A Life of Oatess Archey, wrote an op-ed about the event that was featured in today's Indianapolis Star. To read the article, go here.