Friday, December 14, 2007

Good Friday news

Here's a bit of good news, from PW via GalleyCat:

"Bookstore sales increased for the fourth consecutive month in October, rising 8.0%, to $1.10 billion. The increase was the second largest this year, trailing only the 9.3% gain posted in August.

Despite the string of increases, sales through the first 10 months of the year were still virtually flat with sales up 0.3%, to $13.47 billion, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. For the entire retail segment, sales were up 6.2% in October and 4.0% for the first 10 months."

Feels good, doesn't it? Especially that first bit. Another blow to the old doom-and-gloom, no-one-reads-books, no-one-buys-books brigade.

Case in point: I have on my desk at work a copy of the NEA's newest study, which, while it undoubtedly points up real problems in education systems, always irks me with its apocalyptic, hopeless language. If/when I get a chance, I'll read through it and share some thoughts.

In the meantime, if you haven't yet, be sure to listen to "One for the Books," a segment from NPR's On the Media. It covers elements of the contemporary book landscape from Oprah to e-books, and though booksellers have probably heard much of it (and more) already, it's nice to wrap your head around the whole picture. I'm grateful just for the opening salvo:

"The new media are thriving, the old media are dying. That seems to be the theme of our program from week to week to week. But of course it's much more complicated than that. Because increasingly, the old and new are merging into each other. This week, we're devoting the program to the oldest of old media: books."

Not either/or. Both/and. Let us have podcasts and print, e-readers and indie bookstores, bread and roses. It's not too much to ask.