A client recently alerted me to a discussion she’s been having with other authors about the current economy and the looming $4 a gallon gas prices. She was interested in my take on how the economy would affect book sales, and what my readers thought in general and more specifically how it might effect their spending.
My answer is pretty straightforward. The higher prices are for gas, eggs, milk, and other necessities, the less we’re all going to have to spend on entertainment and, let’s face it, books are entertainment. She did ask me specifically if I thought that since people might have less money to spend on expensive luxuries like vacations would they possibly spend more on books and movies—choosing to stay home and have mini-vacations rather than actually travel. My thoughts are no. Well, some might, but overall no. If people have less money they have less money, and while some may choose to spend what disposable income they have on books, many others will choose movies or trips to the beach. I also think that for many, many people books are part of the vacation expense. They go to the beach and spend $25 on books to entertain them while they’re there. If the beach trip is out, it’s likely the books are too.
What is also interesting to point out is that during a time like this, a major financial shift in our country, you are also going to see the books that hit bestseller lists change. Obviously we’re not going to see any new books soon on how to make money in real estate or how to win in a thriving stock market. Instead we’re going to see more books on how to thrive in a struggling economy and how to live frugally. And often you’ll even see a shift in fiction. I can’t predict as easily where that shift might come, but we’ll see it.
But what about you? What do you predict for your own book sales or book sales in general in this struggling economy, and how might it affect—or has it already affected—your own spending? Are you still driving to the bookstore to browse and pick up books, or are you trying to save gas by ordering online? Has your book budget shrunk or is it still holding on—or even increasing—since your vacation budget is nil?