Discounted Books And Bookselling Facts
Before The Urantia Book was published, Forum members were given an opportunity to pre-order books. The few members of the Forum who are with us today still remember the day in October 1955 when they were able to hold in their hands the realization of a dream some had awaited for decades. Cases of books were carried from 533 Diversey Parkway that day to be lovingly distributed to friends and family. In the early days, this was how most people got The Urantia Book. For many years, this was the way that Urantia Foundation and the former Urantia Brotherhood distributed books. Individuals and Urantia Brotherhood Societies would purchase books in case lots at deep discounts.
Although this practice was necessary for the early seeding of The Urantia Book, it also had its disadvantages in that it slowed the development of normal trade channels of book distribution. If the practice of discounting books to individuals and reader groups had continued, the book would have been in danger of becoming a cult classic -- that is, you would have had to know someone in order to find the book. Most of the people who knew about the book were buying at a discount directly from 533 Diversey, and therefore, no market was created.
Commercial Channels As a result, many commercial outlets would not carry the book because there was no demand for it. This prevented people from being able to discover the book on bookstore shelves. Shelf space is limited and is precious to retailers. Managers look for books that will have frequent turnover. They will not stock a book which they cannot sell or for which there is little or no demand. Nor will they stock it if they are undercut by organizations selling directly to the consumer at a discount. The Foundation eventually became aware that every book sold at a discount from someone's living room stock actually retards the development of commercial channels and impedes worldwide availability. The decision was made to limit the sale of discounted books while promoting sales through distributors and bookstores.
Urantia Foundation continues, of course, to subsidize the cost of books for libraries and for the poor. But sales to individuals today from Urantia Foundation (website or phone orders) are at the suggested retail price. We include links from our website to online retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble where discounted copies are available. For the last several years, the availability of the book worldwide has been tremendously improved by following this plan. New readers can find the book online or in bookstores and libraries worldwide, free of the interpretations of any one group or individual.
Other Groups Other groups of readers may offer discounted copies of The Urantia Book. We realize how attractive, altruistic, and convenient these kinds of offers may seem at first glance, but we believe it is important for readers to understand how the bookselling industry works and to resist participation in these offers if they occur. We encourage readers and study groups to purchase books directly from bookstores so that these stores will continue to stock The Urantia Book for the next truth seeker browsing the shelves.
A Challenge Through the years many readers and study groups have assisted in Urantia Foundation's efforts to establish The Urantia Book in the book market. Some readers have "adopted" one or more bookstores in their community. One reader told us she would regularly order The Urantia Book from her local bookstore. Once the book came in, she would ask that it be put on the shelf for one month and indicated that she would come in and purchase it if it had not already been sold. She never had to purchase one book! Simply purchasing the book from a local bookstore helps to ensure that the book will be on the bookstore shelf for the next potential Urantia Book reader.
Urantia Foundation can supply you with postcards that have The Urantia Book's ISBN number and ordering information printed on the back. You can leave these cards with bookstore managers to remind them to order the book. If enough books are purchased through your local bookstores, or if inquiries are regularly made about it, store managers will be encouraged to order it regularly, and you will be directly helping to increase the availability of The Urantia Book in retail stores, where most people are likely to find it.
Urantia Foundation has established a worldwide distribution network that continues to grow. The Urantia Book notes that "[c]ommerce has been the great civilizer through promoting the cross-fertilization of culture" (775:8). Through the effective use of ordinary channels of trade, this book can reach the hearts of men. You can help by ordering your books through bookstores.
In the midst of the confusions of a rapidly changing environment mortal man needs the sustenance of a far-flung cosmic perspective. (1092:6)
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