RHYS: I've just been traveling around the country, attending two big mystery celebrations--the first, Malice Domestic, honors the traditional mystery as written by Agatha Christie (hence the Agatha awards for which both Rosemary and I were nominated, but unfortunately didn't win this time). The second was the festival of mystery in Oakmont, PA. This wonderful event brings together readers and writers and it's so good for a writer's ego. One sits surrounded by large stacks of books and signs copies all evening as the stacks get lower and lower. I was interested to see that the number of attendees was not down this year, however I sold fewer hardcovers than usual. Readers told me they are getting their hardcovers from the library this year and only buying paperbacks. So it's hard to know how much the recession will affect our sales. In past recessions book buying was up because it was an affordable escape. But now, with Netflix and all the things one can do with a computer, we have stiff competition.
It's interesting that one of my series (the Royal Spyness books) is set in the Great Depression, and shows people making similar economies in hard times. My heroine's sister-in-law, the duchess, has been reduced to toast at tea time instead of crumpets but still has to have her Fortnum's jam on it. Of course there is no comparison between the level of hardship during those years and what we are going through now--unless we are the unlucky ones who have lost our jobs or homes, of course. Then this time is every bit as bleak. My own daughter has been unemployed for over a year, and a large chunk of her unemployment money goes on Cobra, trying to keep up her health insurance. Let's hope that health reform comes quickly as this is ridiculous.
I've been lucky enough that my books are still selling well, but I believe I could live very simply if I had to. We eat healthily but my husband loves to shop for weekly specials so we have a freezer full of things that were on sale. I don't buy many clothes. I could actually live for many years with the clothes I already have (but I wouldn't want to do that, of course). I don't use many cosmetics. We have Netflix and rarely go to the movies. However we do love to travel. That would be the one thing I'd hate to give up--and of course there are fabulous travel bargains at the moment.
So what have you cut back on, or given up? What are you unwilling to give up? What small pleasures do you still allow yourself? Are you still buying books or getting them from the library? Have you invested in a Kindle yet?
ROBERTA: We don't have a vacation planned for this summer--we'll see if that holds! And we've bandied about the idea of a new car--that's been put on ice, too. I know plenty of people run their car's mileage up over 100,000--I just don't like the idea of having to rely on a guardian angel in case the thing breaks down. In general, we're thinking more and buying less. Trouble is, my husband is convinced this is exactly the kind of behavior that will keep the country's economy from really picking up. What do you all think of that? (And by the way, one thing I refuse to cut out is shopping at our local farmer's market. I've been waiting all winter for that to open back up!)
HANK: So interesting! Well, okay, confession. I still buy lattes. I still buy my perfume (Hermes 24 Faubourg). However: Our car is from 2001! And I'm not really interested in a new one. I, too, am shopping in my closet. I'm hoarding my Jo Malone bath gel. And every grocery shopping trip, I pick up the 4.99 a pint blueberries...think about them longingly...and put them back. And then I get so annoyed. I miss the blueberries.Hmm. Does that make any sense? Perfume yes, blueberries no?
JAN: I'm not sure how we economize ever makes a lot of sense. I'm really big on shutting off lights, and sometimes if you heard me talking to my kids, you'd think this WAS the great depression. But I'll spring for a totally unnecessary cashmere cardigan - I mean, I had to... it was just exactly the right coral color....
So how about it, dear blog visitors--are you cutting back or doing without?