Tuesday is National Book Day.
The book industry recognizes Nov. 28 as National Book Day, which celebrates the great authors of literature and all the literary culture of our time.
The world is truly blessed to have great writers like the late Nathanael West and virtually every American writer since. But it would be tough to have a national holiday for every American writer.
So the holiday is not just for works of fiction, but also for nonfiction books, magazine articles, reviews, schoolbooks, documentaries, etc.
There is an important distinction, of course, when a book is published by a major American publisher.
But there’s a whole lot of other great writers out there. For the book industry to celebrate everyone’s contribution and the world’s love of reading, it would be beneficial if the government recognized National Book Day with the same level of largesse it gives to every other national holiday.
Even nonfiction works that include statistics from long before most Americans went to college deserve to be highlighted.
The FCC’s National Heritage and History Day is a nice example. Every November, the FCC gives out grants to groups interested in preserving America’s history and heritage. The FCC cannot pay someone to go out and read Great Books on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol. But the FCC can do a nice public service by giving out grants to organizations that want to do the hard work of preserving our history and heritage.
My favorite example of this is the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. Every year, this organization has provided grants to schools, universities, local officials, and philanthropists in the U.S. and more than 30 other countries to do more than just plan a field trip to a local community college.
Formal education may not be what we want it to be, but children are still learning, often behind closed doors, about the world as it is. Entrepreneurship is often one of the most formative experiences for young people. Small businesses, incubators, and networks are the lifeblood of cities and towns.
So why not celebrate the very best of all things entrepreneurship? Year after year, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship has honored great business people by creating popular books that share the lessons of the self-made entrepreneurs around the world.
As writers and the National Book Day recognize the great American writers and read great books, why not do the same for great entrepreneurial and growth companies?
There are hundreds of great books available for sale in America and over 3 million great books have been translated to English. I have read every one of them, and have never been disappointed.
But hundreds of thousands of great American books are also available for sale in the U.S.
Moreover, if we had every public school in America participate in the National Heritage and History Day program, we could properly recognize all the books. It’s clear that this is a far better use of National Book Day than advertising products from established brands.
The excuse in politics is that advertising costs too much. It does, but there are millions of dollars available.
You can go on the internet to list every state’s school districts’ library funding amounts. Then call every educational institution in America and ask how much they pay to rent a library card and how much they pay to receive a copy of a book.
To get publishers to publish books that can be distributed for free, get a group like the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship to put books into public schools.
Most importantly, get the government to recognize National Book Day. All the great entrepreneurs and growth companies should be recognized for what they have done for the world. But neither the American Book Publishing Association nor the Association of American Publishers (which I represent) could do that for almost 20 years.
It’s a good thing the National Book Foundation takes the time to do the hard work of noting the authors, and getting the ads printed, because publishers make much more money giving books away than they make selling them.
It’s also good for the public to know how much money that money goes into the pockets of the publishers and authors.
That’s a good thing for the book industry, the government, and for the American public.
Doug Short is the director of research for RetailMeNot, and a member of the National Association of Retired American Professionals. He was the senior trade economist for the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 1993 to 2012. Follow him on Twitter: @RetailMeNot.