My Reflections after the BookExpo America

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Víctor García-Bory
Tamara Strumfeld and Víctor García-Bory
Tamara Strumfeld and Víctor García-Bory

By Víctor García, associate trustee, Urantia Foundation, New York, United States

As I was preparing to write this article about Urantia Foundation’s participation in the 2015 BookExpo America in late May, I fondly recalled the time when I first found The Urantia Book. It was the early 1990s, and what a memorable day it was when the book arrived via mail order to my apartment in Mexico City.

I vividly remember how spiritually uplifted and how ecstatic with joy I was that day!

Now let me focus on the BookExpo America or BEA, where Urantia Foundation was exhibiting The Urantia Book. The BEA is the second largest international book fair in the world. The Frankfurt Book Fair, held in Germany, is the largest; the Guadalajara International Book Fair, held in Mexico, is the third largest.

This year’s BEA took place from May 27 to May 29 at the Javits Center in New York City. Urantia Foundation occupied a small space in one of the main pavilions at the show―in the same area where top national and international trade and distribution companies were located. This allowed the Foundation to further cement relationships with partners that presently distribute the book in the United States and North America, as well as countries in Latin America, Europe, and other regions. There were also occasions to explore the book industry’s global landscape to learn more about the opportunities and challenges that the industry as a whole faces nowadays.

Some 20,800 people attended the BEA this year, and it generated more than forty-four thousand Twitter posts, over twenty-two thousand Facebook likes, and some forty-five hundred Instagram followers. More than a thousand media representatives attended. There were over 350 speakers and more than 85 conference sessions, including a large number of them held by the massive Chinese book industry contingent, which was the BEA’s Global Market Forum Guest of Honor. Types of attendees included booksellers (both chains and independent organizations), specialty retail buyers, museum store buyers, and librarians, among others. The BEA was covered via webcast and on-air by PBS.

Despite how impressive (or not) the above might seem—at the time I wrote this article the Urantia Foundation Facebook page had some ten thousand likes, the FIFA Women’s World Cup had more than 467 thousand, the Dalai Lama had 11 million, and Taylor Swift had 71 million. This illustrates that book reading in general among most populations on the planet is not growing. For a few years now, industry experts have been talking and writing about a general decline in book sales. In the United States and most of the world, the market currently appears to be relatively stagnant, as both revenue and unit sales have failed to show significant changes in recent years, especially since 2012. That is true including meager to flat growth of the e-book segment last year. It seems many these days prefer social media, video content viewing, listening to music, gaming, and other activities to reading.

Why is all of the above important? Because it highlights how small, yet how paramount for the future of our planet, the distribution scale is for The Urantia Book. It is through commercial distribution that The Urantia Book has best succeeded in making significant and sustained advances in terms of broader availability and meaningful price reduction everywhere in the world.

Plus, as we know, “Commerce has been the great civilizer through promoting the cross-fertilization of culture.” 69:4.8 (775.8)

The matter of making The Urantia Book available and accessible globally is not an insignificant challenge. But it is one that, with the help of committed Urantia Book readers, has been and can continue to be met with success. Labors of love and contributions of many kinds taking place every day all over the world make the availability of The Urantia Book possible.

Yes, the mission ahead is still enormous, but we can continue to make steady progress with the commitment and cooperation of leaders, readers, and groups in local communities and within organizations across the globe.

The Urantia Book needs us all. Attending BookExpo America is an important part of the equation, as is attending many other relevant book fairs around the world. But remember that this is possible, thanks to the cooperation, support, and assistance of readers.

If there is something that I could say to you today, it would be: Know that The Urantia Book needs you. Know that Urantia Foundation needs you.

Distributing The Urantia Book and making it accessible is a team effort of global proportions, yet of small scale. If you can, join in the joy of service and the thrill of making a difference in taking the fifth epochal revelation to all corners of the world. Contribute (or continue to contribute) in any way that you can. Do it in your village, town, city, country, or region. But participate. Be of service from the heart.

Contact Urantia Foundation online, in person, or via the phone and find out how you can be part of making The Urantia Book more available and more affordable to readers across the globe.

Let us remember that, "In liaison with God, nothing—absolutely nothing—is impossible." 26:5.3 (291.3)

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