Here's some good news from the recession: Book sales are up, at least in Continental Europe.

As far as "cheap treats" go, books are at the top of the list, and readers have more time on their hands if they're unemployed, according to a story in the New York Times.

The numbers aren't up dramatically, but in a recession, a small rise is still up. Book sales in France rose 2% in December from a year ago, and rose 2.4% in January, the Times found. Sales in Germany were up 2.3% in January.

But in the United States and Britain, book sales fell a fraction of 1% lat year. Sales in the United States were down about 1% in the first 10 weeks of 2009.

Even those numbers look good, given that many other industries are dealing with double-digit sales declines.

As someone who has been unemployed for almost nine months, I find it hard to believe the premise that people who don't have a job have a lot of free time on their hands and spend much of it reading. I've written before here on myths about how the unemployed spend their time, and I certainly don't have much time to read. I don't have much free time at all since I was laid off last year.

I admit I'm a slow reader who likes to take his time enjoying a good book, but with my job search and everything else I'm doing, including childcare, I've been reading a nonfiction book for almost six months and I'm just now about halfway through it. It's holding my interest, but being unemployed is taking up a lot more time than I ever thought it would.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at www.AaronCrowe.net


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