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Sunday, April 19, 2020
Where Is The 2020 Census For The Book World?
I recently got a
letter and a postcard from Census 2020. My wife went online and filled out the
survey that comes just once a decade. It made me think about how we need a book
census, one that accounts for how many publishers, writers, readers, and
The book landscape is
in shambles for the moment. How would you even measure it? This simply is not what
our nation normally looks like, so it is difficult to judge what we see now.
How much of this will
So many bookstores are
closed. Even book deliveries from amazon have stalled at times, deemed as
non-essential. Libraries are shutdown too. Authors can’t do any public events,
whether book signings at bookstores, readings at libraries, or speak at conferences
and seminars. Book publishers have pushed back many titles that were supposed to
be released this spring to the fall.
Meanwhile, writers are
stockpiling content that they hope to sell to backed-up, funding-strapped publishers.
However, POD should be fine. Streaming audio and ebook sales appear to be up. A
census of the book world today would look so different from just February and
will look so different from next year.
I was three when my
first family census was taken. This is now my sixth census. But this is the
most unusual time for a census, given that people are in lockdown and that
someone filling it out today may not be here tomorrow.
But like certain things,
we must continue with what our nation has always done. It’s a tradition.
It is also a legal
Census.gov says this:
“The count is mandated
by the Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan
government agency. The 2020 Census counts the population in the United States
and five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the
Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands).
census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and
many others use to provide daily services, products, and support for you and
your community. Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to
hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on
results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have
in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they are used to draw congressional
and state legislative districts.
also in the Constitution: Article 1, Section 2, mandates that the country
conduct a count of its population once every 10 years. The 2020 Census
will mark the 24th time that the country has counted its population since 1790.”
book world is shrinking right now. Temporary closings for some will become
permanent bankruptcies. Others will sell their stores. Some publishers will be
forced to merge with others. Libraries will no doubt cut back on their hours
and book acquisitions due to budget challenges when they do re-open. Book
sales could go either way.
can decline due to fewer outlets selling them and due to money being tight at
home for millions, or they could hold their own, maybe even rise, because
reading a book is what people want to do and can do without socializing or
going anywhere. Books give us nourishment, hope, inspiration, entertainment, information,
and escape. It is still one of the least expensive joys that Americans have experienced
Book Census 2020? Maybe it is best we don’t know where
things stand right now. Where we are six months and a year from now will be
more telling. But I pray and hope that the book industry survives, and like the
nation, readies itself for a huge comeback. May the comeback story become a
is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public
goal of objectivity is not to give equal time between truth and falsehood—it is
to facilitate the truth.”
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