What you can do for your community economy, for cheap!: go local, get books

Okay, Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Then comes Black Friday, traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year for retail sales, helping put retailers’ budgets “in the black” at year’s end. This year, however, with the economy in freefall, that post-Turkey Day orgy of consumer consumption is likely to be significantly more modest than in years past. We’re all nervous, we’re all watching our spending.

Yes, this is a publisher’s blog. We edit, produce, and sell books. But seriously? Televisions are expensive. iPods are expensive. Nintendo Wii is expensive. Scooters are expensive. Bikes are expensive. Computers are expensive.

Books? Really not expensive. But they can stimulate your ideas, inspire new conversations, show you places to visit (both real and imagined), teach you a skill, make you laugh. That’s why books make great gifts. Whether it’s a gift for yourself or for someone you care about, buying a book is a small investment with a large return.

Consider this:

A new study by sociologists at the University of Maryland concludes that unhappy people watch more TV, while people who describe themselves as very happy spend more time reading and socializing. The study appears in the December issue of the journal “Social Indicators Research.”

Woohoo! Be happy! Read books! Cheap! Happy! Books! Yea!

Now that we’ve established that, on to Part B: Your Local Economy. (Don’t worry, there will be no pie charts, line graphs, or mind-numbing PowerPoint presentations. . . .)

As IndieBound reports, when you spend $100 at a locally owned business, 68 of those dollars stay in your community. Spend the same $100 at a national chain, and your community only sees $43. If we all spent $100 at local, indie stores, we could pump more than $2.9 billion into local economies during this recession-plagued season, they inform us. IndieBound.org is helping connect a community of independently owned businesses of all types (not just bookstores) so check them out for places where you can give your local economy the biggest bang with your buck.

Here in the Triangle, the Independent Weekly is encouraging readers to spend their dollars locally. If you can commit $100 to spend locally, go sign up and take the pledge! It could make a $5.9 million impact on our local economy.

Heard from Shelf Awareness: Several book bloggers have started a movement to buy only books as gifts for the holiday season. Postings on buybooksfortheholidays.com include book recommendations, excellent cheerleading about the value of books, a pledge to buy only books as gifts, a signup section and more.

MediaBistro reports that author Carleen Brice has her own campaign going: December is National Buy a Book by a Black Author and Give It to Somebody Not Black Month. At welcomewhitefolks.blogspot.com, Brice offers an official welcome to the African American section of the bookstore!

If you want some ideas for some good southern reads (and eats!), check out our Southern Gateways page. For lots of brand new books hot off the press, check the left sidebar of this blog for books we’ve published in the past few months.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Enjoy the long weekend, and put books on your list for your holiday shopping. And keep it local!!