Book talk

Related Posts with ThumbnailsBubby packin' books -- a gift he LOVED from my friend Debbie.I love books. My girls love books. Bubby loves books. I know LOTS of people who love books.

But the book industry is flailing. And that worries me. Mostly because I love books, my girls love books, and Bubby loves books.

(Full disclosure: It also worries me because I've got one of my books submitted to a few agents and the industry can't -- simply CAN'T -- wither down to nothing before I get one or two or ten published!)

The impetus for today's worry is information I received in a newsletter I'm subscribed to from a site called Shelf Awareness that focuses on the book industry. Here's the scary news I got yesterday (quoted directly from Shelf Awareness):

Net book sales in 2009 in the U.S. fell 1.8%, to $23.95 billion, according to estimates by the Association of American Publishers based on sales data from 86 publishers as well as on data from the Bureau of the Census. In the last seven years, the book business has had a compound annual growth rate of 1.1%.

Category Sales Percent Change
E-books    $313 million    176.6%
Higher ed    $4.3 billion    12.9%
Adult hardcover    $2.6 billion    6.9%
Children's/YA paperback    $1.5 billion    2.2%
Book clubs/mail-order    $588 million   −2%
Mass market paperback    $1 billion   −4%
Children's/YA hardcover    $1.7 billion   −5%
Adult paperback    $2.2 billion   −5.2%
Religious books    $659 million   −9%
Audiobooks    $192 million  −12.9%
El-hi books    $5.2 million  −13.8%










Sure, there are still millions and billions of books still being sold, but the number is decreasing. And at the rate at which it's decreasing, will Bubby have books readily available when he's an adult? Will he be able to pass them down to his grandchildren? Will the ones I've given him -- and will continue to give him -- become relics of days gone by?

That el-hi number? Those are textbooks, the books kids use in school. To think schoolbooks are decreasing at such a crazy rate is absolutely frightening.

And that number for Children's/YA hardcover? Aack! Picture books are my forte; picture books are Bubby's best friend. What's up with that?

People are still reading, obviously. The adult hardcover and higher ed numbers are encouraging. And readers are obviously snagging up those e-books like there's no tomorrow. Now I'm a fan of technology and all, but I'm a bigger fan of books -- real, live, turn the page by hand, fall asleep with it on your lap and worry about scrunching the pages books.

I'm sure books will never completely disappear. There are too many people who believe as I do that books not only fill out one's time and mind marvelously, they also fill out one's room quite nicely. You can't line the walls of the study with Kindles and Nooks.

Well, you could, but how ugly -- and expensive -- would that be?

You might as well just buy books.

Today's question:

If you were to buy any book today, what would it be?

My answer: I'd buy "The Quiet Book" by Deborah Underwood for Bubby and "Divisadero" by Michael Ondaatje for myself.