This week, mine stopped selling on Amazon.
I recall the last recession when, on another site, we theorized that in bad times people would turn to books for encouragement or just to escape the depressing news. I'm not sure it works that way any longer. For one thing, there is the additional problem of publishers not having the money to buy more books or to promote them. Then the stores aren't likely to take chances but stock only sure-fire sellers, and not too many of those.
I think perhaps that we've reached a point where people who are saving save first by not buying books. Books are the ultimate luxury when one can get them at the library.
If anyone here has some cheerier statistics or facts, by all means share. I'm getting seriously depressed.

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Don't fear people will always read! The poor reader may go to the library to get some free material but when the economy picks up...and it will (ebb and flow) books sales will go up. Like most people here I am a book junkie. I am watching my 401K shrink but just the other day I went to Borders and purchased a book for myself, my husband and 4 books for my boys.

I was told once by my grandmother that lived through the "Great Depression" ....that money comes and goes but no one can ever take your education. I'm sure she got this quote from someone but she made a great impact in my life. Books are a strong part of education. That is what I am trying to instill in my boys. Reading is very important and so is writing. The two seem to go hand in hand!

I also remember not too long ago there was a lot of debate over the fact that the internet would kill the published book. And here you (writers-I don't qualify...yet) all are! Keep writing beacuse someone will be out there reading!
Well, personally I took to the Internet like a duck to water. I love e-mail -- a wonderful invention for someone who doesn't like writing letters -- and I love the sense of being in touch with a largr community of like-minded people. Occasionally, I'm astonished. This past week I got an e-mail fan letter from someone in Singapore. This charming person invited me, promising tours of Singapore and delicious food. Such things would never happen without the Internet.
On the other hand, electronic publishing has been a great let-down. Whatever I have out there in electronic form just doesn't sell well -- even on Amazon Shorts, my story (which has been available for almost 2 years now and still holds top spot most of the time among historical mysteries) doesn't sell enough copies in a year to fill my gas tank once.
But you're absolutely right about the crucial link between reading and educational attainments. I saw the problems faced by entering college students in writing classes because they did not know enough words to write a short essay. That is vocabulary knowledge. Having some ideas to put into words is a whole new problem and is also related to lack of reading experience.
Here’s an encouraging quote from a leading Borders books exec regarding the impact of the recent financial crisis:

Popoff said sales of fiction have been strong in the past month, with a trend toward thrillers. "We're really looking at that as the place that people are escaping to," she said.
Great, Eric. Thanks. They're saying the same about movies. Should we hope for more bad financial news? No, better not, because the publishers won't buy new titles then. A book is a perfect escape -- and lasts longer than a movie.
In another view, I wonder how the economy will impact novelists searching for representation. I've been wondering this myself the last few months. It's already hard enough to get published and I would think that it would only make it harder. I should have my rough draft for my book finished by the end of winter and then after editing and revision start shopping around by the spring. I hope that the economy will begin to pick up again, but it might get worse.

My thinking, though, is that people will want to turn to escapist books. At least I hope so. Even in the Great Depression people bought books. They might turn to cheaper fare like cheaper paperbacks instead of spending $20 on a hardback. This is a different day than the Great Depression, though, when books and movies were the only ways to escape. Now the Internet and cable TV can also get potential readers. It's just going to make an already tough business even tougher.

There's already been some comments from people saying they are turning more toward used book stores and loaning from the library. I'm not saying I'm against that because it would be hypocritical for me because I'm doing that. The only problem is that when you decide not to buy that new book that means no money is going into the publisher, agent or writer's pockets and that in turn means less published books, less selection and less opportunity for new writers and diminishing opportunities for established writers.

But to round out my rant, based on the above quote from the Borders exec, I do think more people will look for escapist books. Thrillers, murder mystery, sci fi, etc...

At least I hope so...
I think you're right about people looking for escape. I think you're also right that agents will take on new clients if they think a certain editor is looking for this sort of book, and not if publishers aren't buying.
You are also right about the libraries and used bookstores, but I have said so before, and equally guiltily. I certainly get all bestsellers from the library. No sense in throwing more money out when those guys are already getting millions. And finally, you're right about the market deciding whose books get published, the sure-bet bestselling author's, or the new guy's. It rather limits the reader's choices.
Tend to agree that more people will borrow library books rather than buy. I also predict a rise in audio books (also borrowed from libraries) as people listen in the car or around home while doing other activities. I think there will be a rise in 'How To....nonfiction works, as well as absorbing fiction which offers other worlds into which readers can escape.


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