Book Sales, Best-Seller Lists, and Why They Matter
Yes, this is an unabashed request for you to buy a copy of Jim's new book, Rediscovering Values, but let me take a minute to tell you why this is so important to our mission and work at Sojourners.
First, consider this helpful metaphor for understanding our work. Imagine all of us -- staffers, board members, constituents, friends, etc. -- standing shoulder to shoulder and straining to hold a speaker's platform as high as we can. We do this because we have a message to communicate, a set of commitments to share. We place different spokespersons on the platform, and the primary articulator of our message is Jim Wallis. All of us work together to share our values, articulating what we think it means to be a follower of Jesus. Jim's role as primary spokesman means his voice spearheads our work, even while elevating other voices to stand with him on that platform.
Second, the publication of content on any of our platforms -- the blog, the Web site, the various newsletters -- all serve to get out the message that we (all of us) want worked into public discourse. Because books continue to be a centerpiece of the written word, the release of a new book provides a unique opportunity to amplify the message and to reach beyond our usual friends and partners. The publication of a new book and the attendant media attention are not just desirable, but also critical to the building and nourishing of the movement, without which our message will remain inert.
Finally, closely connected is the fiscal support Sojourners gains from a successful book. What we can say with certainty is that when a book by a Sojourners author (of course, most frequently Jim) reaches best-seller status, the media turn their attention and ask for interviews, written pieces, quotable excerpts, etc. All of this, in turn, draws attention to the important work we undertake together and results in increasingly successful capacity building. For example, the level of support on a number of different measures spiked dramatically after the great success of God's Politics.
So just keep in mind, when we send you an e-mail asking you to buy Jim's book (and make no mistake about it, I am asking you to do that!), we're attempting to leverage a successful book -- and all the media and other opportunities it provides -- into an even stronger voice for social justice. In a world of carefully counted marketing metrics and best-seller lists, your purchase counts as an endorsement. We need your support to keep this message in the public dialogue. For those of you who have already stepped up and bought a book, thanks for your help. And if you haven't yet, it's not too late! Click here to order.
Chuck Gutenson is the chief operating officer for Sojourners.