And it’s getting even uglier for books. The last two days, for those of you don’t obsessively watch the trades like I do, have seen reorgs, layoffs at the biggest publishers, backpedaling by HMH on the whether or not they’re buying books (and regardless of what they say, they’re pretty much not).
Today’s news is a salary freeze at Penguin of anyone making more than $50,000 a year. But in a situation where people, including senior editors, are losing jobs, it’s hard for me to feel anything for employees simply not getting a raise. The Penguin CEO said he hopes that will be enough to get Penguin through the next couple of years.
Let me pause for a moment and mention how petty all this must seem to the man or woman putting radios in new Fords who’re watching their CEO drive to Washington in a hybrid (and for my money, symbolism doesn’t work quite as well when someone has to point it out to you…it’s like a forced apology) to beg for money so you can keep your job and buy shoes for the kids.
I realize whining about books and lack of books is petty. I realize this particular Bushian-driven recession is entirely too deep to cry about the arts, but the arts are what I do, they are what affect me so their slow death by strangulation is what I see.
But it is the way of the near term. If basic security is in question, luxuries are doomed. Keeping a job is a basic security. And as basic as books are, they are definitely a luxury right now.
So if you’re buying Christmas for someone, think about books. Think about Tom Picirrilli’s new one, or Sean Doolittle or Ed Gorman’s. Or Craig Johnson’s newest Walt Longmire tale which is fabulous. Johnson has really stretched and taken some literary chances that pay-off brilliantly.
So buy some books. Please?