Good news from the old continent: the New York Times is reporting today that sales of books in Europe are rising in spite and maybe even because of the economic downturn.
According to the article ("Book Sales in Europe Are Gaining in Tough Times " by Eric Pfanner), "the number of books sold in France rose 2 percent in December from a year earlier and 2.4 percent in January, according to Livres Hebdo, a trade publication and the trend has been similar in Germany, where the number of books sold rose 2.3 percent in January, according to the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, a trade organization. Analysts say many other European markets have also shown gains."
Actually, even in the U.S. , where sales haven't gained in the last couple of months, the situation isn't that bad - sales in the U.S. were down about 1% in the first 10 weeks of this year. Of course it's not an ideal situation, but it's definitely much better than many other industries were demand fell sharply.
If you look for a connection to the downturn, you can easily find it. In two words: cheap escapism. Or, as Helen Fraser, managing director of Penguin Books in London, put it in the article "books are a very cheap treat. When you are reading all this dreadful news in the paper, a lovely 500-page novel by Marian Keyes or a classic by Charles Dickens takes you right away from all that." I couldn't agree more.
Raz @ Eco-Libris