Buy A Friend A Book Week arrives again next week.
Buy A Friend A Book Week appeared around the time the publishing world (especially the part involving authors) was filled with doom and gloom because of studies indicating people weren't reading, because privately run bookstores were folding, and because review journals were not expanding while the number of books being published (though not, evidently, selling) was increasing, which meant many books couldn't get much attention. I'm sure there were many other reasons for the general mood of depression, too. The idea behind Buy A Friend A Book Week was to encourage people to buy books. You went out and bought a book for a friend when you had no reason to do so. You would thus be encouraging people to read and possibly helping to support bookstores and authors.
I've always tried to support Buy A Friend A Book Week because it is an attempt to do something about a situation instead of just complaining about it. Some might find it to be a rather modest attempt, but it sure beats sitting around talking the situation to death.
That being said, lately I haven't had much luck with my book gifts to friends. They haven't been going over particularly well, and the last one the recipients didn't even look at. I've been feeling some frustration. I've also been wondering if maybe it was a mistake to choose my friends from among my family members. We're not a particularly mannerly bunch.
Then I realized, hey, the point of this whole thing isn't whether or not these ingrates appreciate the time and effort I put into a gift for them. Hell, no. The point is that I support the publishing world with my purchase. And I do.
Nonetheless, someone new will be receiving the benefit of my largesse next week. I just don't know who it will be yet.
Thanks for the mention, Gail!
I dunno, Gail, is it our purpose in life to make publishers profitable at the expense of our friendships?
Unexpected gifts are often received ambiguously ("does this mean I have to get you a present now?") and books are really hard to give and get, because they come wrapped in expectations--two people's tastes in reading are on the line. Do I judge people by the books they read? No. Do I judge people by what they think I would like to read? Okay, sometimes, at least enough so that now I tend to receive nice 'n shiny plastic gift cards instead. I guess I like to be in control!
I think the hope is that the 10 to 15 percent royalty authors receive on the sale of a book will make a difference in their lives. The fact that publishers make a profit is just a coincidence.
The expectations thing is definitely a problem, particularly if you are buying books for adult, or nearly adult, children. Hmmm. I think there's a heart-tugging personal essay somewhere in that situation.
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