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 bookstores exist.
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 become permanent?
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’s a tradition.
It is also a legal necessity.
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).
“The 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 census data.
“The 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.
“It's 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.”
The 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.
They 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 for centuries.
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 best-seller!
Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”
“The goal of objectivity is not to give equal time between truth and falsehood—it is to facilitate the truth.”
--Lee McIntyre, Post-Truth
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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at email@example.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2020. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent. This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.
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