While my friends in the Northern Hemisphere are bracing themselves for a chilly Christmas, here in Melbourne it's 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) and the weather forecasters are predicting a cloud-free 28 degrees for Christmas Day - good beach weather.
There's another way in which Australia appears to be differing from other climes: the retail economy. Whilst it's patchy out there, book retail sales seem, anecdotally, to be keeping up to expectations. Trade magazine Bookseller+Publisher's annual pre-Christmas survey of booksellers reports that 75% of booksellers think sales this year are higher or the same as 2007, with only 24% reporting a drop in sales. (Last year, 18% reported a drop - not a dramatic difference year-on-year, given the global economic brouhaha.)
The Australian Government is trying its best to make us spend up big this Christmas, by sending those of us who receive some form of social security payment (excepting unemployment benefit) a nice fat cheque for AUD$1000. Sales of games consoles reportedly surged by 39% after the measure was announced (indicating where the hearts of Australian consumers truly lie), but no doubt some of the benefits are trickling down to booksellers too (books on how use a Nintendo Wii, for example.)
Given that Australia's second-largest bookselling chain Dymocks this month allowed one of its board members, former New South Wales Premier Bob Carr, to go public telling everyone that books are too expensive here, perhaps we shouldn't be too upset.