A recent report published in the Publishers Weekly magazine, broke down the United States into eight regions regarding reading activity. Of all the regions, the South Central, which includes Texas, had only a 1% increase in printed books sales. While an increase is good, the sad part is that with the high number of people moving into this region, book sales should have increased at least as much, if not more, than the highest region reported. The Pacific coast, where many of our transplants are coming from, saw a 5% increase in sales.
This is a clear indication that events such as DEAR Texas and the Super Readers program is not only necessary, but should receive overwhelming support from Texas Authors, Texas Booksellers and Texas Libraries. Working together, these organizations and members could significantly turn around the book sales numbers of the South Central region, and help with inspiring more reading and purchasing of books. But, it doesn’t stop with a state wide weekend event.
It is clear that the legislature of Texas does not support Texas Authors, nor the educational systems as it should. They have shown this with funding cuts and legal battles which force school districts to spend money on lawyers and not on students. The end result is that Texas authors, booksellers and libraries must pick up the pieces of a failed education system. This additional pressure and the high expenses can only be met in one way. Team Work!
The library systems need to support their regional and state authors, as does each type of bookseller who does business in Texas. By supporting them, the increased share in market sales leads to a stronger economic impact in sales tax and other financial benefits, which in turn, improves the education system.
Supporting local authors does not mean that booksellers or libraries stop purchasing well known books. It simply means they are willing to open their facilities so that local authors have more opportunities to do speaking engagements as well as display and promote local author’s books, which in turns equates to more sales.
At the same time, it is up to the author to learn how to better market their books and work with organizations which support and help them get their books into various locations. All sides are in fact responsible to the other, no one side can be expected to do all the work. Team Work!
Based on our un-official survey of Texas authors, we saw a decrease in marketing expenses by 17% from 2014 to 2015. This decrease was partially due to the high cost of attending book festival events and the decrease in profits by 7%, thus forcing authors to restrict what events they attend. This, in turn, hurts communities across Texas both in financial impact and lack of new reading material these authors have to offer.
With an estimated 6,000 published Texas authors, and over 120 book stores, there is absolutely no reason why they cannot support each other, which in turn supports the sales tax and donation base for public libraries and schools.
We challenge our Governor and the State Legislature to publicly support the Indy authors, Indy bookstores and Indy publishers of Texas in a large way. Sadly, when Governor Abbot was give three opportunities to do so in 2015, he and his staff chose to ignore those opportunities. This sends a clear signal to Texas authors that they are not appreciated, nor is their financial impact to the state, valued at $188 million, of any concern to the governing body of the state.
Texas has a long and colorful history on so many levels, that it makes sense to support those industries over the long term. Yet, Texas authors have basically been ignored even though they are the ones on the front lines of education supporting and encouraging people of all ages to read more. We cannot afford to ignore these pioneers and educators any longer. Their value to the economy of Texas is strong, as is their value to our education system. It is past time for them to receive the support from our state leaders as the oil companies, railroads, farmers and tech industries have received for years.
Numbers count. If you agree that our government should get behind Indy Authors and the industry surrounding them, in the State of Texas, take a minute to find out who your Legislators and Senators are. Then, write to them, along with our Governor asking for their support. You are welcome to quote any of the statistics listed in this article.