Sunday, December 21, 2008

Signs of Christmas

So the e-mails are slowing up; the ‘out of office’ bounce-backs have started; and the last round-robin electronic greetings cards have arrived. It must be Christmas. Publishers are ‘in the country’, to use the quaint phrase that is still heard in London every now and then - as if we all have second homes in Suffolk and Norfolk - and all eyes are on the retailers for whom it is anything but quiet: even the worst Christmas will still be the busiest time of the year.

A quick ‘eye’ survey in my local, suburban London high street today showed no queue in Waterstone’s, but a massive one in HMV. Is there any book that has the ‘must have’ appeal of the latest PS3 game? Play Station, Xbox and Wii are all cited as reasons some boys do not read; slightly ironic, then, that it is Waterstone’s parent company, HMV, which sells all those items.

How booksellers must wish they had their own set of Play Station-style controllers at this time of year: press X for increased sales, ‘square’ for instant stock replenishment; and R1 to cancel returns. Perhaps such an invention is in development....Wishing you all a Happy Christmas.

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