It started on August 19, 2010 with a post at John Ottinger’s Grasping for the Wind. I made the case that we needed a National Buy a Book Day—and in the handful of years that followed I tried to walk the walk, establishing a not for profit foundation in the hopes of gaining enough support to really get this publicized outside the grassroots social media channels.

Have I failed at that?

Despite attempts to raise awareness, and the funds necessary to apply for coveted Federal 501(c)3 status, here we are, another National Buy a Book Day two days in the past, and I’m still not able to manage that.

I blame myself, mostly. I took this on as a side project—a labor of love. But over the past couple years as I started to get busier and busier, I started pushing a bunch of things off to the side, and unfortunately the National Buy a Book Day Foundation was one of them. I didn’t do enough in a world crowded with messages to get the message out, and to be honest I don’t think I had much of a message.

The heart of the idea is simple, and requires no donation from anyone to accomplish.

On September 7th of each year, buy a book.

It’s that easy.

I was hoping that with increased visibility we could bring booksellers and publishers into the fold, make a real event out of it, use the visibility to help support the struggling independent booksellers, and so on. But to be honest, getting that started and working and worthwhile would be a full time job, and I just can’t be a full time volunteer.

So where does that leave the National Buy a Book Day Foundation?

As of today, it can afford to stay afloat for a few more months, and it’s hard for me to ask for too many more donations that tend to go to paying bank fees and other minor administrative costs.

But even if the foundation doesn’t survive, National Buy a Book Day absolutely can, and must.

It’ll live in the ether—on GoodReads and Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr, and wherever readers congregate and talk to each other. Go buy a book every September 7th (and any other day of the year you wish, of course!) and tell us all about it. What did you buy? Where did you buy it?

This year I bought a copy of The Resurrectionist by E.B. Hudspeth and in the spirit of supporting the independents I bought it from Golden Age Collectibles in Pike Place Market in Seattle. It’s been added to the top, not the bottom, of my voluminous to-read list.

What book did you buy day before yesterday? Did you tell people about it? Did you use the hashtags #buyabookday and #september7 ?

If not, do it next year . . . and the next, and the next . . . and who knows, in another four years or so, it might be the Big Deal I was hoping it would be by now. It’s a good idea, and a worthy effort, and good ideas and worthy efforts never die, they just sometimes take a little longer than we hoped.


—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.
This entry was posted in Books, E-Books, horror novels, how to write fiction, indie publishing, NaNoWriMo, National Buy a Book Day, POD, Publishing Business, Science Fiction & Fantasy Novels, SF and Fantasy Authors, transmedia, Writing, writing advice, Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. ebedigian says:

    Wasn’t aware of the buy a book foundation until I read your FAH article today, however, I did buy books (7 of ’em) on Sept 7th, too. I will be happy to mark it on my calendar as an annual pleasure in which to indulge.

    For the record: bought 4 SF&F e-books, two writing texts, and, I own a couple of your own classroom-in-a book-tomes: Guide to Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy, and Writing Monsters. Love them; learn from them; am grateful for authors like yourself who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise.

  2. Kameron says:

    I bought the X-Men: Days of Future Past graphic novel a few days before Sept 7, but I finished reading it this weekend. Sorry to hear the foundation isn’t thriving, but I totally understand the commitment it would take to make it a success, and realizing you don’t have those resources to commit.

  3. Greg says:

    I had never heard of the event until I read this weeks post this morning. I will make sure to add it to my calendar and post it online for next year.

    I picked up a copy of Magic Kingdom: For Sale–Sold! on the 8th. I needed it for the creative writing homeschool class I am teaching using the National Novel Writing Month’s Young Writer’s Program. It’s one of my favorites and I needed to replace the copy I gifted to a student who couldn’t get a copy.

  4. Pingback: Cover Reveal: The Dragonmaster - My Writer's Cramp

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