Is it National Buy a Book Day already? YES IT IS!

Wait, what the hell am I talking about? If you haven’t heard already, today you are instructed, at least encouraged, to go to ANY book store and buy ANY book as a show of solidarity to the entire publishing, bookselling, and reading community. There’s more at my column for Grasping for the Wind.

A short little post to start the day, typing right into WordPress at about 7:30 am. For those of you on the east coast, the stores are open—go buy a book! Me, I still have a couple hours to mull over my choices. Hmm. What book to buy?

Though I don’t tend to read book reviews, I do pay attention to the recommendations of friends, coworkers, associates, and okay, maybe even the occasional critic. I keep a file on my computer called BOOKS TO BUY, which I update every time I get one of those recommendations, and I keep a hardcopy of it folded up in my wallet so I always have a book shopping list with me whenever I’m in a bookstore, which is about 2-4 times a week.

I’m not sure what book I’m going to end up with today, but it may be one of the books on this list:


Gateways (Pohl, et. al.)

The Library by Zoran Zivkovic

Under My Roof by Nick Mamatas

He, She, and It by Marge Piercy

The Bohr Maker by Linda Nagata

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow

Newton’s Wake by Ken McLeod

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

To Ride Hell’s Chasm by Janny Wurts

Book Of The New Sun by Gene Wolfe

Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Magician: Apprentice by Raymond Feist

Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge

Spin by Robert Charles Wilson

Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon

Tuf Voyaging by George R.R. Martin

The Gigantic Robot by Tom Gauld

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Trollslayer by William King

Gloriana by Michael Moorcock

Nights Master by Tanith Lee

The Book of Three and The High King by Lloyd Alexander

Walking the Tree by Kaaron Warren

King Maker: The Knights of Breton Court by Maurice Broaddus


Way Down Cellar by Phil Strong

Trigger John’s Son by Tom Robinson

The Face in the Frost by John Bellairs

The Floating Opera by John Barth

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer


Singularity by Bill DeSmedt

The Eerie Silence by Paul Davies

Or then maybe something will just leap out at me and demand to be bought. Check back in later today, and by all means, please leave comments here and on Twitter and let me know what book you bought today, where you bought it, and why. Readers can save publishing, one book at a time.

More to come.


It’s just after 1:30 pm and I’m back from the bookstore with my National Buy a Book Day purchase.

I’ll admit that though I had my list with me in case it was out of stock, I’ve known for a week or so that I would buy (drum roll, please . . .) Gateways, edited by Elizabeth Anne Hull, from Tor.

Anyone who’s read my list of favorite science fiction books here at Fantasy Author’s Handbook will remember that the original Gateway by SF Grand Master Frederick Pohl was on that list. I’ve read and enjoyed the entire series, and when I caught wind of this anthology of stories set in the “Gateway Universe,” no way was I going to pass it up for long.

Today was the perfect opportunity. It wasn’t even on sale. It’s only just recently been released in hardcover, I know a few of the authors personally or have at least run into them at conventions and whatnot, and it was full price. I bought it at the Barnes & Noble store in Issaquah, Washington, for no particularly special reason except that it’s the closest bookstore to me, geographically, I’ve shopped there for years, and I want it to stay there.

I have a personal aversion to discount programs I have to pay for up front, so I have never been a member of B&N’s discount club, and do get a little ticked at the obligatory sales pitch on that every time I buy anything from them (and today was no different). Still, as a former retailer myself I never blame the bookseller. I know they have to say that or they get in trouble, so I just smile and politely wave it off.

The full cover price for Gateways was $25.99. Add in the 9.5% sales tax (ouch) and the grand total came to $28.46, and I was happy to pay it. Putting it into a little perspective, my wife and I ran into the local supermarket this morning and spent about $26 on toilet paper, a loaf of bread, and a little salami, pastrami, and smoked gouda. Hardly the week’s shopping trip—more like lunch for the next few days and, y’know, toilet paper. The book will give me far more enjoyment than any of that stuff.

Now, I can’t spend $28.46 on books every day, but I don’t have to, to help keep books being written, published, and sold by my friends in the greater publishing business. I’m not sure how many times a year I have to spend that—maybe only once if everybody else spends $28.46 a year, too, and ultimately that’s the only way this is going to work.

So, what book did you buy today?


Then we went back out after 4:00 when the last kid got home from school.

My sixteen-year-old daughter picked out Penny Arcade 6: The Halls Below by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik. Gotta love the Penny Arcade guys!

My ten-year-old son scooped up Goosebumps: Monster Blood by “R.L. Stine,” and my wife, Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus.

So that’s all four of us. The entire family bought a book on National Buy a Book Day.

I can’t begin to thank everyone who Tweeted, blogged, emailed, Facebooked, and maybe even spoke aloud to a living human. Looks like we got a great response today and I’m determined to spend the next year making National Buy a Book Day 2011 a truly national event.

Now . . . READ!

—Philip Athans

About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, ( is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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  1. Using this as an excuse to pick up The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan and Blood of Ambrose by James Enge on my way home from work. 🙂

  2. Clay says:

    I purchased “West and East” by Harry Turtledove. Alternate history – Hilter attacks east in 1938 at the Barnes and Noble in Glen Allen, Va. I read the first book in the series and wanted to read the second. I like the Guns of the South series but am still unsure of this one. Usually read Sci-Fi, History and what ever gets my attention.

  3. Tina Roye says:

    I bought two books that day 🙂 The Ghostwalker by Erik Scott De Bie and Uneasy Relations by Aaron Elkins. God I hope I spelled those authors names right. I wanted to buy a lot of books but had limited money. 🙂

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