Tuesday, November 18, 2008

All I Want For Christmas . . .

by Sean Chercover

All I want for Christmas. . .

"But it's too early to blog about Christmas," I hear you say. "We haven't even reached Thanksgiving!"

True, but we are living in desperate times, and they call for desperate measures. Surely you've seen the news, and you know just how desperate. You've heard the cries from Washington and Wall Street and Detroit. It's a Global Economic Meltdown(TM), and just in time for the Holiday Shopping Season(TM).

Run and hide!

Okay, I know that we're all in for some serious belt-tightening, but here's the thing: You will probably buy a few Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa gifts for your loved ones this year. You may not be as lavish as in years past, but you'll probably buy something, right?

Right. So please, make that something a book.

Doesn't have to be my book (although I have no objection to that), just any book will do. Fiction, preferably. But as I said, any book will do. Fiction, non-fiction, hardcover, paperback, frontlist, backlist. Just so long as you give books.

Maybe give a book that had a big impact on the way you see the world, or simply a book that made you smile. A book is a beautiful, thoughtful, personal gift. And a book can be burned for heat when the entire economy collapses and we are all left freezing in the dark.

Really, there's no better gift this year.

Those of you who read the publishing trades know that I'm not kidding around. Share prices of the largest book retailer in America just hit an all-time low. Some other bookstore chains and many independents may not survive the winter. Even the most optimistic economists project no economic growth until next spring. And that will be too late for many bookstores.

It's that serious, kids.

Of course, if you're so broke that you're considering roasting the family pet for Christmas dinner, you get a free pass. But for the rest of us . . . for those who are going to buy something to give our loved ones this Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa. . .

Please, give a book.

29 comments:

Barbara D'Amato said...

Gee, I think I'll give books.

However, having made some bad decisions in the past about what book s0meone would like, I'd like to mention that most bookstores will sell gift cards, so that your recipient can go in and buy what he or she wants.

Sara Paretsky said...

Roger, I copy that!!

jnantz said...

Gift cards are great if you're worried about which book, but I'd like to add something to Mr. Chercover's post (if I may be so bold):

Ask for a book or two, when you're filling out that list. You know, the "everybody draw a name, $20 maximum" Christmas among extended family (or friends, or work for those of us still slaving for the man). Ask for a book. You know you want one (or fifty), so put it on your list whydoncha?

Dana King said...

Ditto Jake. My Christmas list has already gone out to the Spousal Equivalent and the Sole Heir. All it has are books. And each of them will get at least one from me.

Maryann Mercer said...

When my daughter asks what I want for Christmas, guess what? A gift card to the local B&N :o) I have so many books on my wish list it's not funny. By the way, Trigger City is a great gift...the only problem being the recipient will read it immediately and then have to find Big City Bad Blood...oh wait, that's not a problem! :o) Same for Marcus and his latest, and the books by the rest of you all! You just don't write fast enough!
Oh and if your local bookstore is doing a book drive for a local children's charity, buy a couple to donate. Nothing like giving a kid the adventure of reading!

Bethany K. Warner said...

I have a good friend who teaches fourth grade and I was already planning on buying several books for her that not only can she read but that she can put in her classroom library.

Sean Chercover said...

With respect to Barb, I must disagree about the gift card issue.

On a practical level: The entire publishing industry is feeling a HUGE pinch right now. Buying a gift card gets money to the bookstores, but not the publishers. People often hang onto gift cards for months before using them (and a surprising number never get used), so buying gift cards only addresses part of the publishing crunch. We need to shift books right now.

Also, while B&N will definitely still be around next spring, some others will not. You may find that you've given someone a plastic card that has no value, because the chain or store went under. This is why analysts have warned about buying gift cards from many stores (Circuit City, Linens & Things, etc.) this season.

If you give a book, and it's the wrong book, it can be exchanged. But at least you showed that you tried to think of something that the recipient would enjoy. It's a very personal gift. And if they've read it (or don't want to) they can always return it for a book they'd prefer.

My $0.02.

Kevin Guilfoile said...

I was in a bookstore today doing the very thing Sean suggests. And it was EMP-TEE. Then I went to Target, which was packed.

I shouldn't be so sad after Christmas shopping.

Then again, I do have a 16-year-old nephew who actually asked for a book for Christmas. There's hope in that.

Catherine said...

Honestly there is a book that suits every family member. Last year my nephew received 'Time to pee' by Mo Williams for Christmas... as I knew it was um timely, and my brother would get a laugh out of reading it each night.

My teenage nephew was thrilled to receive a book detailing some diabolical science experiments using household ingredients.Thank goodness my sister encourages reading and curiousity.

I have a challenge every year to fill my Dad's request for non-fiction books that are stranger than fiction.

Each and every year the majority of gifts I give are books that suit each individual interest. I don't expect this year to be any different.

Martel said...

Gift ideas:

Babies - soft cover books made of cloth, a great introduction to the world of books and doubles for a burp rag in an emergency. Also nice are the waterproof books that can be looked at in the tub.

Toddlers - board books, Curious George, Thomas the Tank Engine, Little Einstein were my kids favorites.

Beginning Readers: Biscuit Series, Little Critter, Clifford the Big Red Dog

Independent Readers: Ramona Quimby Series for girls, Fudge Series for either boys or girls, Captain Underpants for boys

Tweens: Little House on the Prairie series, Narnia Series, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew

Teens: Lord of the Rings Series, Twilight Series, Harry Potter Series

Great books for teens and adults to discuss: Generation Dead by Dan Waters. It's a book about a zombie teenagers that attend high school and the struggles they faced with the being integrated with the living. Great conversation starter to discuss racism, stereotypes.

Adults:

Horror fans - HWA Blood Lite Anthology, humorous horror from the best in the horror biz. Unspeakable Horror from Dark Scribe Press - Gay/lesbian/transgendered horror stories.

Another great gift from a related industry is fiction magazine subscriptions...they are struggling too.

Horror - Doorways, Shroud, Postcripts

Mystery - The Strand, EQMM, Alfred Hitchcock

Sci-fi/Fanatasy - Asimov's, F&SF, Weird Tales

Kids - Cricket, Highlights, Ranger Rick

Kids love getting things in the mail. It's a way to keep them reading year-round. And most kids magazines have lines by age group (babies to teens)

There's my 2 cents. Hope it's helpful.

Allison Brennan said...

Great blog.

I ran a contest to my newsletter list. They get a copy of any of my books they want; I'm sending an entire trilogy as a Christmas present to the friend of their choice.

I always give lots of books at Christmas. To my kids, my husband, my mom, and friends. Great gift choice.

Katie Bell Moore said...

I love taking the time to figure out just the perfect book to give someone. I often give non-fiction that applies to an interest or hobby -the recipients are always thrilled.

Kaye Barley said...

I second what Katie said. I love taking the time to figure out the perfect book for someone I care about. And so far (knock on wood), I think I've been pretty successful. I know how happy and appreciative I feel when someone gives me a book that I'll treasure, so I try to do the same. Great piece, Sean!

John McNally said...

If you want your favorite author (who isn't necessarily a bestselling author) to keep writing books, I would suggest buying his/her new book in hardcover for a gift. I have a friend who'll buy twenty copies of his favorite author's new book to give out to all of his friends and family, and I think that's great. My point is, a writer's future depends on the sales of his/her current book, so while buying a favorite back-list book is nice, and while giving the latest bestseller is tempting, buying copies of a lesser-known author's new book in hardback bodes well for making sure that your favorite (non-bestselling) writer has a publisher for his/her next book. The reason I like doing this is because it's like welcoming friends to a secret club: Here's a writer you may not have heard of, but this book is the key to something pretty damned great.

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