Tuesday, November 09, 2010

‘Tis the Season (Already?)

by John

Today I want to give a shout-out to one of my favorite blogs, Gregg Easterbrook’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback. Ostensibly a recap of the previous week’s football games, Easterbrook typically goes off on tangents that even a non-football fan can appreciate, covering everything from astrophysics to economics to Battlestar Galactica.  One recurring item is Christmas Creep: how every year retailers and advertisers seem to be promoting Christmas earlier and earlier in the calendar. For instance, in Yokohama, Japan, the municipal Christmas lights went up on October 31st (so much for Halloween)!

I’ve had Christmas Creep on the brain, because November 1st seems to be an unofficial date for the media to start publishing their year-end best-book lists. So far we’ve got the New York Times best illustrated, Publisher’s Weekly and Amazon, with many more to come. I suppose I see the logic in getting these lists out early so that retailers can plan their “best of 2010” holiday displays. But still, by printing “best-ofs” in early November, these media outlets essentially declare that books are done for the year and make November and December a virtual dead zone for new titles.

With so many books fighting all year long for attention, publishers could really use two more months to space out their promotional efforts, rather than having to spend the end of the year focused on “the best.” But what if Christmas keeps on creeping earlier and earlier? Will the window for new book promotion shrink even further, to the point where publishers can only effectively market a few books a year? Or will people start getting skeptical of “best-of-the-year” lists that cover only 10 months or less, especially if there are fewer books to consider? Better yet, could books actually lead the way in reversing the Creep? To me, that would be the best Christmas present of all!


  1. As an obsessive NFL fan, I want to thank you for highlighting Gregg's blog. I just checked it out and it's pure awesome.

    As far as the publishing industry, I'm one of those people that vows to start my holiday shopping early each year--yet I never actually get to the bookstore until around Dec. 7th or so. I buy a ton of books for presents, so as long as a book makes it into a store by Dec. 1st, it has a chance with me. However, I've also never been one to look at "Best of..." for anything, so I may not be the typical shopper.

  2. Christmas creep? This guy is at the vangaurd of bringing christmas into the autumn: http://tinyurl.com/32yezg3

    The guy lives in my county, too.

    cheers for the link to gregg's blog.

  3. The truth about Christmas Creep: my dad is a drugstore manager, and he says that every year, they put out their Christmas merchandise at EXACTLY THE SAME TIME. It's on a schedule and it's like clockwork. And yet every single year, the customers come in and say, "You guys are starting Christmas early this year!" It never fails. ;)

  4. Here's how I see it. Thanksgiving--the day we're supposed to be thankful for everything wonderful and special in our lives--has turned into stretch-your-belly-out-to-prepare-for-all-the-Christmas-goodies day or eat-drink-and-be-merry-for-tomorrow-we-shop day.

  5. One of the creepiest places of all is Michael's. They start putting Christmas stuff out in August. EEEEEE! Guess all the crafters need time to make their crafts.

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  7. Hmm, I think jetty got lost in cyberspace!

    Ian, apparently there's a guy in South London who's put up his Christmas decorations in September!!! Now that's drawing the line, but...

    As Em- has mentioned, Michael's starts theirs in August! I actually know someone, no two people, who leave their decorations up all year! (True! But I'm not giving out any names and no it's definitely not me!)

    I had to laugh at Simone's comment! Sometimes we humans are all wired the same way! I've asked the same question myself a few times, "Are you putting up your Christmas decorations early this year?" and I've gotten the same answer, "Nope, same time as last year!" (Thanks Simone!)

    Sorry Michael, I just had to comment on other people's comments! Sometimes the publishing business can be tough! Not only do you lose November and December, but I would imagine that January is not the best month for promoting books as well since most people have overspent during the holidays! Or am I also lost in cyberspace?

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