17 November 08 | Chad W. Post

This is shaping up to be a very depressing holiday season—at least in terms of retail. On Friday, the U.S. Census Bureau released some rather sobering figures, including the fact that bookstore sales dropped by 4.5% in September. And if that wasn’t bad enough, in October, the entire retail sector fell by 2.8%, the largest drop ever.

Worth pointing out that book sales are up 1.8% for the first nine months of the year, so this figure isn’t quite as terrible as it first seems. But a steep decline in sales in December and January would be very harmful, especially since those are the biggest sales months for the industry.

I’ve had a few conversations with booksellers recently about the perceived notion that the book business is somewhat recession proof. That during lean times, people avoid buying more high-end presents (flat screen TVs, etc.) and are more inclined to buy a book as a gift, since it’s thoughtful, lasting, and not that expensive.

For the benefit of all stores and publishers I really, really hope this is true. (Personally, a book is about as creative as I can get gift-wise anyway . . .) And to help spur on this idea, Random House is launching a Gifts=Books campaign.

Random is placing the banners on all its sites and in all its newsletters, and will also post them on all major social networking sites, said [Doubleday marketing director Suzanne] Herz. Banners will also be made available to all e-tailers. The New Yorker will do an e-mail blast to 25 million newsletter recipients touting the Books=Gifts message.

In addition, the Bookreporter is counting down 45 reasons why books are the best gifts—one a day until Christmas day. Most are pretty obvious—books are cheap, they provide hours of entertainment—but if this helps get people to buy more books, then I’m all for it. Of the reasons listed so far, this is my favorite:

. . . there’s something available whether you’re naughty . . . or nice

Bookreporter making books sexy one post at a time . . .

(This is where I should insert a blatant publicity plug for our Open Letter subscriptions. At $65 for 6 hardcovers, or $120 for 12, you really can’t go wrong . . . And in case you’re wondering about our spring titles, we’ll be announcing each book individually over the next few days. And if you have any questions—or if you’d like a 6 book subscription to rollover and include books from the fall and spring seasons—simply e-mail me at chad.post at rochester dot edu. I think this is a great gift . . . )

Seriously, even if it’s not an Open Letter book, it’s a great idea to buy books this holiday season. This is an industry that really needs to support itself, and with everyone teetering on the edge, it would be great to hear about some independent stores breaking past holiday sales levels . . .

Comments are disabled for this article.
The Odyssey
The Odyssey by Homer
Reviewed by Peter Constantine

Now goddess, child of Zeus,
tell the old story for our modern times.

–(The Odyssey, Book I, line 10. Emily Wilson)

In literary translation of works from other eras, there are always two basic tasks that a translator needs. . .

Read More >

I Remember Nightfall
I Remember Nightfall by Marosa di Giorgio
Reviewed by Talia Franks

I Remember Nightfall by Marosa di Giorgio (trans. From the Spanish by Jeannine Marie Pitas) is a bilingual poetry volume in four parts, consisting of the poems “The History of Violets,” “Magnolia,” “The War of the Orchards,” and “The Native. . .

Read More >

Joyce y las gallinas
Joyce y las gallinas by Anna Ballbona
Reviewed by Brendan Riley

This review was originally published as a report on the book at New Spanish Books, and has been reprinted here with permission of the reviewer. The book was originally published in the Catalan by Anagrama as Joyce i les. . .

Read More >

Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World
Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders
Reviewed by Kaija Straumanis

Hello and greetings in the 2017 holiday season!

For those of you still looking for something to gift a friend or family member this winter season, or if you’re on the lookout for something to gift in the. . .

Read More >

The Size of the World
The Size of the World by Branko Anđić
Reviewed by Jaimie Lau

Three generations of men—a storyteller, his father and his son—encompass this book’s world. . . . it is a world of historical confusion, illusion, and hope of three generations of Belgraders.

The first and last sentences of the first. . .

Read More >

Island of Point Nemo
Island of Point Nemo by Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès
Reviewed by Katherine Rucker

The Island of Point Nemo is a novel tour by plane, train, automobile, blimp, horse, and submarine through a world that I can only hope is what Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès’s psyche looks like, giant squids and all.

What. . .

Read More >

The Truce
The Truce by Mario Benedetti
Reviewed by Adrianne Aron

Mario Benedetti (1920-2009), Uruguay’s most beloved writer, was a man who loved to bend the rules. He gave his haikus as many syllables as fit his mood, and wrote a play divided into sections instead of acts. In his country,. . .

Read More >

I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World
I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World by Kim Kyung Ju
Reviewed by Jacob Rogers

Kim Kyung Ju’s I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World, translated from the Korean by Jake Levine, is a wonderful absurdist poetry collection. It’s a mix of verse and prose poems, or even poems in the. . .

Read More >

Kingdom Cons
Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera
Reviewed by Sarah Booker

Yuri Herrera is overwhelming in the way that he sucks readers into his worlds, transporting them to a borderland that is at once mythical in its construction and powerfully recognizable as a reflection of its modern-day counterpart. Kingdom Cons, originally. . .

Read More >

The Invented Part
The Invented Part by Rodrigo Fresán
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

Imagine reading a work that suddenly and very accurately calls out you, the reader, for not providing your full attention to the act of reading. Imagine how embarrassing it is when you, the reader, believe that you are engrossed in. . .

Read More >

The next few events from our Translation Events Calendar: See More Events >