2/16/09

How Many Books Did You Buy for Christmas?

Every writer who hopes to become a published author should be an enthusiastic buyer of books, not just an avid reader. Why? Because you're supporting the industry you want to become a part of.

Another small LDS publisher recently called it quits. That statement may seem like it's unrelated to the previous paragraph, but it's not. Why? Because many of this small publisher's titles were pushed into the Dead Zone and sales tanked.

They were acquired by another small company so I'm not sure how that will shake out—if the acquiring company will keep it as an imprint or if they'll just sell through the current stock in print and let it die. Regardless, the whole thing makes me sad because now we have one less avenue to publication, which means by default, the control that Deseret Book/Covenant has over the LDS publishing industry has just increased.

I'm not dissing DB&C. The products they release are top-notch and despite the fact that their business decisions are hurting smaller companies what they are doing is not bad or evil. But when you have one small group of people deciding what is and is not appropriate for a market of readers, it's just not healthy. We need more small publishers, more opinions, not less.

So, how do we help? What can we do to influence the market and insure that alternate avenues to publication stay open? We can buy books.

You influence the state of the industry with your checkbook. When you find a book that you really like, buy it—especially if it's published by a smaller press. Buy several copies and give them as birthday and Christmas gifts.

Another thing we can do is to support published authors by attending their book signings and other appearances when possible. Even if you've already purchased their book, even if you've met them before, go out and meet them again. A well-attended signing says something to a publisher and author, even if the sales at that signing are low.

So here's your assignment:

1. In the comments section of this post, name one (or more) title(s) published by a small press that you purchased in the past six months.

2. Take my poll in the sidebar.

3. Go over to LDS Fiction and post some recommended reading comments for titles by smaller presses—titles that you've read and you like.

4. If possible, buy a book this week.

Correction: When first posted, I mistakenly identified Spring Creek as the small publisher that had been acquired by WindRiver. That is not correct. Mapletree was the company that was acquired by WindRiver. I apologize for the confusion here.

13 comments:

Karlene said...

I read Bound on Earth over the weekend. I loved it. Each time I had to put it down, I found myself looking forward to picking it up again--curious about what would be revealed next.

Bound on Earth is a collection of vignettes from the POV of various family members. I thought the characters shone through as unique individuals, with their own voice and personality. There is a reason why this book is up for three Whitney awards! I very much recommend it.

Jennie said...

I read Previously Engaged over the weekend and included it in my review column which will be posted on Meridian on Thursday. I loved this book; I'm nominating it for next year's Whitney awards. It is hilarious and just what is needed in today's gloomy weather and economic conditions.

Melanie Goldmund said...

Does Shadow Mountain count as a small press? I bought The Arthurian Omen from them last year, and The 13th Reality, and sometime before that, I also got Fablehaven.

If it doesn't count as a small press, then I'm in trouble and must hang my head in shame. I was going to proudly announce that I'd bought something from Zarahemla Books ... until I remembered that it's been over a year since I ordered Hunting Gideon from them. And I read Christopher Bigelow's blog every so often. That doesn't count, does it? I didn't think so. *hangs head, slinks away*

Melanie J said...

Is CFI considered a small press? I bought Previously Engaged and Taking Chances. Both were fun. Well, Taking Chances goes kinda deep at some points, but it has lots of light moments, too.

Anonymous said...

We didn't buy anything for Christams. Nada. Zilch. We made gifts for each other. I wrote a Christmas story, printed it out, added a little picture to the cover. We recieved a $500 check from grandma. We tore it up and told her to invest her money in more food storage. I gifted ten "books" for less than twenty dollars. What a deal. Beyond some food for Christmas dinner, there were no purchases.

Sorry smaller publishers. Its not your fault. And its certainly not the fault of Covenant or DB. They didn't convince 20 million Americans to live beyond their means for the past 18 years and buy houses with no money down, bad credit ratings, and a part time job.

The LDS publishing turmoil is, sadly, a housing issue. Poor retail LDS book sales is a housing issue. If you're faced with the unsavory decision between investing your time writing a book instead of augmenting your food storage, it's once again a housing issue.

If the answer to fixing the LDS publishing industry is to go out and buy, buy, buy, instead of save, save, save you may be following the current Obamanomics theory of print as much money as you can before the lights go out.

According to current government economic theory, the answer is to buy your way out of the problem instead of producing your way out. If you view yourself first as a consumer and a distant second as a producer, then you may be onto the same terribly inverted fix for the downturn in the LDS publishing market that our federal government is following for the rest of the economy.

You publishers want to sell more books? Great.

Everybody go out and buy a house.

Ly

rhom said...

While I tend to disagree with David and his political ramblings, I can I agree with him on one thing: urging people to buy books isn't the best way to save small publishers.

Any effort like this (urging people to buy books) will always be temporary and ineffectual, because it doesn't solve the real problem. Small publishers don't need benefactors; they need customers.

I can't say that I have any solution. But I do think that adding more small publishers isn't the answer, at least not now. The problem--well, one of them--for small LDS publishers is that they don't have stores that will carry their books. The solution to that problem isn't to add more books, the solution is to add stores that are willing to carry their books.

So, if you want to start an LDS business, start a bookstore, not a publisher. That's the way to break the DB&C monopoly.

My 2 cents.

Seagulljaap said...

How did you hear about Spring Creek? And Windriver bought their remaining stock? Gulp. This is a sad day for LDS publishing.

Even if I didn't really support Spring Creek's business model (they made some unfortunate publishing decisions), they added something to the market.

What's the future of Brigham and Granite?

LDS_Publisher said...

Geez Louise, Ly. I amend my statement to after you buy your house and after you have your food storage, please consider gifting books. Also, stocking up on books is not a bad idea. You can always burn them for fuel.

Rhom - Even if your book is on the bookstore shelves, someone (readers) has to buy it or it doesn't do any good.

Seagulljapp-Wind River sent out an email announcement about acquiring Spring Creek.

rhom said...

Sorry I wasn't clear. Yes, people need to buy books.

But a business should never say: "So, how do we help? What can we do to influence the market and insure that alternate avenues to publication stay open? We can buy books."

Because, again, customers shouldn't have to buy something because they support the cause. They should buy something because they like the product enough to buy it. If customers aren't buying the products (either because the products are bad, or the stores aren't carrying the books, or for any other reason) solve those problems first.

Especially during a time of financial distress, customers shouldn't be expected to be philanthropists.

ally condie said...

I bought about 20 copies of The Moms' Club Diaries from Spring Creek...but I don't think that counts, even though I did pay for them, because I edited the book. I also bought Bound on Earth (which I LOVE).

I am really, really sad about Spring Creek. Chad and Tammy were so professional and fun to work with and their hearts were in that business.

Tristi Pinkston said...

I'm a little confused by Rhom's concern about the books being quality. I didn't see LDSP say, "Go buy books that are crappy so we can keep the industry afloat." I saw LDSP say, "If there are books you enjoyed, support them." In my mind, that's not just a matter of helping the writing industry. It's a matter of showing your favorite authors your appreciation. You can kill two birds with one stone ... which, come to think of it, is also remarkably frugal.

Love the new blog layout, LDSP. I haven't been over here for a while - busy - but looks like you've been up to some good things.

earwaxtasteslikecrayons said...

I used some of my Christmas money to buy a couple of books I've been eyeing: "Loyalty's Web" by Joyce DiPastena, "Icing on the Cake" by Elodia Strain, and "The Stranger She Married" by Donna Hatch.

I've loved them all.

My next purchase is going to be Sarah Eden's Whitney award nominee.

Wendy

Kent Larsen said...

I just read this post yesterday after posting the news on A Motley Vision that WindRiver had purchased Mapletree. So I called JB, the owner of WindRiver, and was told that your information is NOT correct. WindRiver has NOT purchased Spring Creek.

I don't know what exactly this means. Perhaps you could check on your end to see if there is an error in the information you got?