The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, ISKCON’s premium publisher of spiritual books, has seen a marked improvement in North American sales last year, up from its 2008 performance.
Despite a failing US economy, the North American BBT sold 665,580 books by ISKCON founder Srila Prabhupada and his disciples in 2009, compared to 515,405 in 2008.
“That makes last year our best since 2005,” says BBT production manager Arcita Dasa, who is also the Director of Academic Outreach at ISKCON’s Los Angeles temple. “We owe that success mostly to the determination of book distributors across the country, but also to the fact that when times are hard, people are more likely to be receptive to spiritual enlightenment.”
Selling 50,000 copies each, 2009’s bestsellers were the hardback edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is and the softback Perfection of Yoga, both book distributor’s favorites.
Common leaders in the North American book distribution effort include ISKCON Los Angeles, where the North American BBT is based; ISKCON San Jose, where book distribution minister Vaisesika Dasa has introduced a raft of innovative ideas; and Rupanuga Vedic College, a Kansas-based educational institution headed up by ISKCON guru Danavir Goswami.
Also regularly popping up at the top of the “bestseller list” are ISKCON New Vrindaban, West Virigina; Mexico City; and New Talavan, Mississippi; while up-and-comer Toronto, Canada is set to show promise in the year 2010 after introducing some of Vaisesika Dasa’s innovations.
“North American ISKCON managers are planning to focus more and more on training and inspiring temple devotees and congregations to distribute books in 2010,” Arcita says, quoting an August 1973 letter from Srila Prabhupada to the then BBT Director Ramesvara Dasa.
“I like your programme of sending out your best men to teach the others,” Prabhupada wrote. “That is the actual process of Krishna Consciousness. To train others to continue this programme so that in the future every devotee in our movement will know the art of distributing books.”
He went on to add: “There is no doubt about it, to distribute books is our most important activity.”
“Purity is the force,” Arcita concludes. “As we increase the numbers of persons practicing pure devotional service to Krishna, the numbers of books distributed will increase.”[ bhaktivedanta-book-trust ]