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Singapore Book Fair

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Singapore Book Fair

For the past two years the Australian Foundation office has displayed a booth at the Singapore Book Fair. This year, however we decided to do something different; we sent someone just to walk the floor and visit with book stores and distributors at the book fair and throughout Singapore. Robert Coenraads from Sydney, Australia volunteered his services, donned a suit and tie, and set about to make contacts with the book trade in Singapore.

His visit turned out to be a great success. He discovered that the large distributors are not interested in dealing with a publisher who carries one title only. However, he found a smaller distributor who is interested in carrying the book. This distributor supplies books to mainstream bookstores throughout Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, South Africa, Taiwan and Hong Kong. They offered to display The Urantia Book at their booth while at the fair, giving us a special stand. Four books were sold. A representative also took Robert to some of their retail outlets to allow him to introduce The Urantia Book to the store managers.

It was discovered that the book is on display at the Borders bookstore in Singapore. The store has been open since November of 1997 and so far it has sold eight Urantia Books. Several other major book chains were visited and all showed an interest in the book. Someone from one of the major chain stores said that they had received ten requests for The Urantia Book in the past year. English is the first language spoken by many Singaporians so English books are big sellers.

During last year's visit to Singapore, attempts were made to penetrate the library system but we were thwarted at all turns being told that libraries are wemy of western religious material. The government has a censorship board which restricts the importation of “suspect” material. We were afraid that these restrictions may effect the book trade but it seems as though The Urantia Book has been passed by the censorship board as Borders are able to import and carry it. The concensus amongst the retailers was that the library system is behind the times and their fears are unfounded.

Robert also made contact with several readers who bought books the year before. They are keen about the book and have now been put in touch with one another. The seeds have been sown for the beginning of a study group.