With summer almost over, the Summer 2013 Thieves’ Quarry Blog Tour makes one of its last stops at Magical Words, the group blog on the craft and business of writing that I maintain with Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, Mindy Klasky, John Hartness, James Tuck, and others.  Today’s post is called “Quoth the Book: “Reports of My Death Are Greatly Exaggerated,” and it builds upon an article by James Surowiecki that recently appeared in The New Yorker magazine on e-books, paper books, and the future of book selling.  My post tries to tease out what his observations may mean for writers.  I hope you enjoy it.

Yeah, that’s kind of a hard pitch to make right now. In the midst of an economic crisis it’s not easy to get people to worry too much about book sales, because in the midst of an economic crisis there are far more important things to worry about. Like everyone else, though, authors feel the pinch of a bad economy. Our ability to contract future books for publication is tied directly to the sales performances of our most recent releases. So, if the economy keeps people from spending money on books, then we suffer as well. This is not a complaint — lots of people out there have it far worse than my fellow authors and I do. But I do offer it as an explanation for the title of today’s post.

Sure, I’m worried. I love what I do, and I don’t want to stop. But this is a hard way to make a living in the best of times. In a severe recession… well, let’s just say that it’s not getting any easier. Publishing companies are cutting back on planned releases, booksellers are ordering fewer books, and people going into stores have less disposable income.

None of us is immune.

So if you happen to be one of the lucky ones — if you’re not hurting right now — go out and spend some money. Buy my book. Buy someone else’s book. Get yourself a new toy — a phone or a camera or a computer (and be certain to recycle that old one!). Take someone you love out to dinner tonight.

And if you’re not one of the lucky ones — if you are hurting right now, if you or someone you care about has lost a job or health coverage — you’re in my thoughts. It seems trite to say this, but we really are in this together (the 177 Republicans in the House of Representatives notwithstanding). We’re going to be hunkered down together for a while. And then we’re going to emerge from these troubled times together. Some people get by on faith in God, others get by on faith in themselves. Some of us get by on faith in each other.

None of us is immune. But none of us is truly alone, either.

I have a confession to make:  I like to spend money.  I like to buy myself cool new toys.  I’m not always good at spending — I agonize over purchases and need some time to convince myself to buy a big ticket item.  I’ll do a ton of research to make certain I’m getting the right brand or model or whatever, and I’ll look around for weeks looking for the best combination of good price and trustworthy vendor.  And even when all that groundwork is done, I sometimes have trouble pulling the trigger.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s more fun to want something than it is to get it.  You know what I mean by that?  Sometimes that research stage is fun, even as I obsess over the item in question.  Anticipating the purchase, exploring all the possibilities, searching for that perfect deal — there’s something really enjoyable about that part of the process.

But then there’s also the fun in finally plunking down that wad of cash and getting the new toy.  

Yeah, I like to buy stuff. 

Not all stuff.  Some guys are into cars or sporting equipment or expensive clothes.  Cars don’t really do much for me, and I don’t usually need to look much beyond the L. L. Bean catalog for my next shirt.  And though I have been known to spend a bit of money on a bicycle or a new golf club (back when I played golf regularly), that’s not the stuff that makes me salivate.

So what are we talking about then?  Well, I love to buy new music, and books, and I’ve been known to get excited about stereo equipment.  But none of those is my current focus.  As most of you know at this point, I’m a pretty avid photographer.  Over the last several months as I’ve sold some of my pictures, I’ve squirreled away a bit of cash.  Enough, at this point, that I’m looking at buying myself a new digital SLR.  Yup.  I’ve been looking online, and in magazines, and even in mall photography stores, though I’d never actually buy the thing at a mall store.  Too much money; not enough service.  At this point I know which camera I’m going to get and about how much I’ll be spending.  It’s just about time to pull that trigger.

What about you?  What do you like to buy?  What are your favorite types of toys?  Electronics?  Clothes?  Sports gear?  Jewelry?  C’mon and share!  I won’t tell a soul.

Meanwhile, I’ll be looking at a few more camera sites.  And then I think I need a new computer…..

Today’s music:  Larry Carlton

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