Friday, February 18, 2011

The Scary World We Live In

It's official!

Borders has filed for Bankruptcy, owing over $200 million US, and is set to close about 200 stores.

Barbados doesn't have any major chain bookstores. So as far as I'm concerned, if I, book-lover from countries where you don't exist, know you're name, then you're huge! Borders, Barnes and Noble, Hudson, Dymocks, Kinokuniya (Asia): they're all invincible. Or they were.

I could try (and probably fail) to illustrate the complex reasons why Borders is where it is today. But I'm no economist. And I believe that wherever there is a stack of complex problems, there is a single underlying one. The reason Borders went bankrupt is simple: they didn't sell enough books.

That's a scary thought as an aspiring author. But I'm not one to sit around and mope -well, not indefinitely anyhow. So here's my list of ways for us to fight back.

1. Buy Books.

I'm always seeing people recommending that aspiring authors read. Reading is great. I do lots of it. Maybe too much. But authors make money each time they sell a book. Not
each time someone lends their girlfriend a copy. Not every time someone blogs or reviews or jumps up and down screaming how much they love the book. (Sometimes they make money from libraries, but that often has a limit and I don't know if it's as high as royalties.) That is the bottom line. Our future salaries are tied to books sold.

So buy. If you can, buy a book a month. Or if you already buy, see if you can increase what you buy. It doesn't have to be spectacular. Maybe you bought 10 books last year, you could aim to take it up to 14 this year. Everybody is up in arms about the economy and how broke they are. But the truth is, most of us are not so bad that we can't afford to spend an extra $10-$20 US once in a while.

Think about it. If authors aren't buying, who will?

2. Give Books

There are a few times each year when we give presents. How about making some of these books? Personally, I love giving people gifts that they will LOVE! So I put a lot of thought into my gifts, just so I can watch their faces light up for that first 3 seconds. Sometimes I'll be reading a book and think, my neighbour, W, would LOVE this!

I don't think you should give a book just for the sake of giving a book. Nor should you give a book strictly because you love it. It's important to take the recipient into consideration. You might just be able to turn someone onto a new author or sub-genre. And before you can say, "Books rock!" they're off buying more all on their own.

Also, most of you are bloggers. Do giveaways. For your bloggy anniversaries or other milestones. Or if you really, really love a book. It'll be another copy sold, as well as some publicity.

3. Cultivate a Book Culture

Remember you were a little kid, 5 years or so? Maybe you were like me, and you were already a little read-aholic. But even if you were, you may remember your siblings or friends, wanting the latest toys, and being angry when they got a book.

Read to your kids. Before they're old enough to read for themselves, read a bedtime story or a chapter of a book to them. Apart from developing a love for reading, this has other benefits. Reading can help calm a child and help them sleep. (TV and electronics and even running up and down, provide too much stimulus making it hard to sleep.)

Read with your kids. When your kids are older, let them read to you. Once again there are perks outside reading. Adults have less and less time to spend one on one with kids when they're not racing to or from school or work. This act will give you half hour- or even just 10 minutes- of bonding time. And if your child is anything like my 6 yr-old, it will also result in the occasional hilarity. (Approximate line of text that Filch says in HARRY POTTER: "It might be nothing much to you, but it's an extra hour of work for me." What my son read: "...but it's an extra hore of work..." lol. Poor thing. He's only 6. I don't know who convinced him he could read Harry Potter. It certainly wasn't me.)

Discuss books.
It's not just the gritty books that have interesting themes. There's discussion material everywhere. The YA books I've read in the last year, have started me thinking about:

how societal pressure affects us
how teens deal with self-image
how much goes on under the surface
how materialism affects us
the possible evils of our governmental system
the possible evils of capitalism

It's easy to start the dialogue, "I was reading this book the other day, and it got me to realising how few of us ever meet in person, rather than reading blogs, linking up on facebook or tweeter, or calling up on the phone..." Before you know it, you've got a discussion. Then someone wants to know what the name of the book was. And then, they're off to find a copy.

There are 3 to start you off. What else can we do to save this little piece of the world we want so badly to inhabit?


Natalie Aguirre said...

Great points Claire. It breaks my heart that Borders is filing for bankruptcy. I remember when they were an Indie store on State Street in Ann Arbor where I live. The one near my house is closing. It's beyond sad.

Anonymous said...

Amazing posts Clair, with some brilliant advise