Monday, December 01, 2008

As the Economy Plunges, These Books Soar

In dire times, consumers turn to books -- at least certain kinds of books.

Guides to living simply, do-it-yourself projects such as making clothes, and affordable hobbies such as gardening are flying off the shelves, says Jed Lyons, chief executive of the Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group. In fact, the topics are so popular that he’s also reissuing books that are decades old because they reflect current mood.

One of those old books enjoying new life is The Guide to Good Cheap Hunting, first published in 1978.

Much to his surprise, says Lyons, Americans suddenly want to learn how to hunt and trap rabbit, waterfowl, and squirrel to feed their families. “There will be a revival of this kind of small game hunting to put food on table,” he says.

Other newly popular books include:

“Americans are looking for good, practical information about how to live a more sustainable life, how to save money by doing things like growing their own vegetables… and really returning to a way of living that was common for their grandparents,” says Lyons.

Young people need books to learn these skills, because they are no longer passed down from generation to generation, he adds. Lyons says he’s still on the look out for a book on sewing, since he’s heard buzz from people saying they wished they knew how to make their own clothes. “I’m sure the one I publish could be 50 years old,” he says.

Has the economy affected your reading habits? Personally, I’ve been drawn to Great Depression-era memoirs, such as Beverly Cleary’s My Own Two Feet (a fabulous book), as well as cookbooks, such as Ina Garten’s new Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics. Please share your suggestions and hankerings below.

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