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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Like Dogs, Book Rescue Is Needed

The other day I read about an English Bulldog rescue group holding a celebrity-filled fundraiser to generate attention and funds for saving doggies.  Could such an approach work if applied to books, authors, bookstores, libraries, and book publishers?

Dogs are cuter than authors and whereas they can’t speak or lobby for themselves, certainly the book industry should be able to communicate its needs better.  But the pet adoption world is very good at getting people to donate money and time to adopt, rescue, or tend to the abandoned and unloved pooches of the community.  Can – and should – the book industry go begging as well?


Books could be as endangered as our four-legged beasts if we don’t act now.  Sure it seems strange to focus on helping a for-profit industry that does turn a profit, and to steer funds and resources that would otherwise support causes like fighting cancer, sheltering the homeless, feeding the poor, and of course, saving Fido and his furry friends.  But the world of books goes beyond balance sheets.  Society saves money when it rescues young minds and supports starving artists and entrepreneurs who exist in a give-back-to-the-community industry.

The book world that I believe needs to be rescued is the one that’s more important to us than most stop to think about.  I want to preserve bookstores – the physical ones – and to grow the role they play in nurturing learning, literacy, activism, and all facets of life, for all that we are and can be will be directly correlated to the books we read and share.  Books profoundly impact and touch us, not only with their words and ideas and sharing of the facts, and but in how they’ve launched discussions, debates, and dialogues among us.

The bookstore is the bibliophile’s church, the adult’s college campus, and the place of business for creative artists.  We need to fortify the value a bookstore has upon its patrons.  It is the spouse to all of us, where as online stores like Amazon act more as escorts, filling a perceived need but not fulfilling on any other level.

So what do dog rescue groups do to get their message out successfully?

1.      Hold fundraisers and say what the money will go towards (feed 60 dogs a day, vaccinate 30 dogs, help avoid killing 10 dogs this week).

2.      Tug at your guilt and emotional push-buttons..

3.      Humanize dogs with references to love and physical needs that we can relate to.

4.      Use visuals to make us sympathetic to their plights.

5.      Get the attention of kids to sell it up within the household.

6.      Use the media to lobby their cause.

7.      Hold events on weekends in populated locations to get people’s attention.

8.      Have no criticism or second-guessers (who will argue we shouldn’t save the life of a being that brings us joy?).

9.      They sell the benefits of pet ownership and don’t show the drawbacks of it.

10.  They demonize the enemy (a society that abandoned dogs or the kill shelters), and force you to rally support out of guilt, if not out of genuine compassion.

Maybe the book world needs a dog mascot speaking up for it?  This dog will need to do a lot of barking to explain why:

·         It’s important to shop at a bookstore

·         One should get involved in helping others read.

·         Publishers need to charge more for ebooks.

·         Books need a home for discussions to happen -- and not just to make purchases.

·         We must cherish books and not just worship The Internet.

·         People need to read more books.

So what will we soon see?

·         Book telethons raising money to support publishers.

·         Authors standing with signs saying “Will read for food”

·         Publishers posting “adopt me” blog posts for unwanted books.

·         Bookstores with posters saying, “Have you seen me?”

·         Little children ditching lemonade stands to sell books on the street corner.

·         Costumed characters posing for photos to raise funds.

·         Authors with megaphones in stores asking people to save them from being irrelevant.

Ok, maybe none of the above, although I like the telethon idea a lot, but we need to craft a strong campaign that gets the word out: Books need your support, you need books, and books about dogs make great gifts!


2015 Book PR & Marketing Toolkit: All New

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014


  1. Oh dear :-D We have discussed these topics many times in our home. I'm a devoted bibliophile and live in a sort of cross between a library and a zoo (due to the rescued animals).

    You make some excellent points here, but I feel some are missed, as well - perhaps as a humorous intention.

    Responsible rescues/ers are all about post-adoption support and "keep 'em home" programs. Not at all downplaying the real downsides of ownership. To be successful and reduce kill rates, you actually have to engage actively with those downsides. Which means ongoing post-adoption training and support (for example boarding if someone loses their home)...a book/writing analogy might be NaNoWriMo as an example.

    Another hugely *successful* tactic is mobile events with free care (spay/neuter, microchip, vaccinations - not even gonna GO there with potential analogies!). These are especially important in underserved areas where the need is greatest!

    Lastly (for now), instead of dismissing the internet, why not take another look at the incredible amount of writing it is encouraging/enabling. How can bookstores/coffeeshops be reinvented to facilitate this?

    You're absolutely right - we don't want to lose paper books. And we sure as heck don't want to lose the community gathering place that is a bookstore. And all the great stuff that goes along with it.

    One of the things we discussed at home was cyber-cafes, and the unfortunate difficulties of funding a space for people to gather without charging them for sitting around for hours! (Hello bookstore couches & chairs!). We never quite hit on the *perfect* solution, but I think that's the direction we need to go.

    Cost - gotta disagree there. When production cost goes down, price should go down also. Especially since it's clear the authors aren't getting the difference. Paper books are expensive to print. That said, there are some books I'm always going to want in paper. Can't pry me away from my (physical) bookshelves!

    Raising pricing on my online reading will decrease my overall reading (budget won't change!). And it will irritate the living bejeebers out of me making me less likely to buy an e-book. Why feed the publisher all that extra money when I prefer paper anyway? It's like raising video prices. If I feel a movie isn't worth seeing on the big screen, I'll watch it when it comes out on video - unless that suddenly costs the same. In which case, forget about it!

    Anyway, I'll continue supporting my local libraries/friends of the libraries, writing for both online and (next year!) print...and gathering with others who like to do the same. Preferably with a large cup of tea included. And in some cases, with my rescued dog at my feet. (The bunnies & mouse will be left at home)


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