Monday, December 15, 2008

A Plea from Joshua Henkin

Matrimony author, Joshua Henkin, has an important reminder for booklovers everywhere. Please consider what Josh has to say and do what you can this holiday season.


Dear Friends,

As many of you know, the book industry is in serious trouble. It was in trouble when economic times were good, and now that times are bad, things have gotten really precarious. Book sales across the industry are down as much as 40 percent, publishing houses are laying off people and cutting imprints, one big publishing house announced that it was no longer reading new manuscripts, and a major chain bookstore is on the brink of bankruptcy. Many of these problems have been a long time coming (the decline of newspapers and especially of book review sections has been a big blow, as has the closing down of many independent bookstores), but in recent months the problem has become especially acute. I don't mean to sound alarmist, but these are alarming times. What's at stake is the future of books, and of reading culture. Although books will continue to be published (Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling will publish their next books), for everyone except a handful of bestselling authors, the future is far more uncertain. What's at stake is the wealth and diversity of book culture. Many classics (books we read in our English classes in high school and college, books our children read or will read), simply wouldn't be published by today's standards and, if they were published and didn't sell well immediately, they would be removed from the bookstore shelves. This is why it's so important that you buy books for the holidays. There's a website dedicated to this enterprise,, which you might want to check out, and publishing houses are running ad campaigns focused on holiday book-giving. You really can make a difference. A typical paperback novel costs less than fifteen dollars, far cheaper than a necklace or a sweater or dinner at a nice restaurant.

Thanks for reading this, and have a happy and healthy holiday.

Best, Josh


  1. Nearly every present I bought this year was from the bookstore... and most of them were books. :) They're fantastic presents; there are so many books on so many subjects, you can always find a topic of interest for everyone.

  2. I love buying books for people. This is such depressing news.

  3. You'll be happy to hear, Annie, that I've purchased a good number of B&N gift cards this year. I don't feel all that comfortable buying books because everyone has his own taste when it comes to reading, something that is easily misjudged by others.

  4. Jeane, as the most avid readers in the world, it's up to us, and people like us, to help make the difference between success and failure for book publishers. :-)

  5. Yay, Sam! :) I'd be happy if every person I know gave me a gift card to a bookstore. :)

  6. Gave a few and got a few in return, Annie. I'm set for a few weeks. Hope you did well, too. :-)