Monday, February 16, 2009

What will the stimulus package do for writers?

For starters I haven’t seen any bailout plans aimed at the publishing industry that has been laying off and cutting jobs. Nor do I expect to. And I fear I’m one that thinks the highly touted stimulus package is mostly aimed at things congress wanted to do anyway and there is very little real stimulus about it. As with a lot of political things I hope that I’m wrong.

What it will do no matter where it is aimed will put a lot of money into circulation and if that money starts circulating hopefully it will trickle down and start to manifest itself in book buying. In other words I don’t see it stimulating the book business directly but I am very much hoping for an indirect benefit. Books and other forms of entertainment fall on the list of non-essentials that are so easy to trim when people become nervous about the economy or more so if they have lost their jobs and are in spending shut-down mode.

Since they are a relatively small expense and since people need entertainment even more in hard times I see people who like to read making a place in their budget for books. I see libraries becoming more important, but unfortunately at the same time more people are turning to libraries and the demand there is higher, they face budget issues as well making acquiring the necessary books a problem. There’s just no easy answer for anything, is there?

But the tendency of Americans is to immediately return to whatever rut they are most comfortable in as early as possible. As money begins to circulate perhaps that return will be faster than we think. I certainly hope that’s true. Some publishers are moving ahead with projects and staking out market position betting on increased sales. Some are in a wait and see mode.

For the writer it means we write, period. And as we do we keep an eye open for opportunities, and they are present, because the book industry is in the business of selling books and to stop selling books is to go out of business.

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