Volunteers expand reach of revolutionary books

By Mark Severs
May 21, 2018

Volunteers for Pathfinder Press, which publishes books by leaders of the Socialist Workers Party and other revolutionaries worldwide, have been involved in activities across North America over the last several months to expand sales and distribution of the books.

They’ve met with bookstore buyers; librarians at public, university, and prison libraries; book distributors; and staffed booths promoting Pathfinder books at academic conferences. They are tapping into a great deal of interest in books that explain the social and economic crisis facing working people and point to the road out of it.

This work is an invaluable supplement to the day-to-day efforts of SWP members and supporters, who take revolutionary literature as they knock on workers’ doors and join in strike battles and social protests across the country.

The volunteers surpassed their fall sales goal of getting 95 orders, netting 100 orders in the United States and Canada. The real backbone of the effort is consistent, month-in and month-out work contacting buyers and setting up face-to-face meetings — “shoe-leather work,” as it has long been known. Over the years this has built long-term relationships with a growing number of buyers who order Pathfinder books.

In Montreal, a buyer for the main chain of 30 primarily French-language bookstores told a team of Pathfinder sales representatives that he was excited to get books like theirs into his stores across Quebec. He placed a large order, which included three recently published books from Pathfinder in French — Are They Rich Because They’re Smart?, Is Socialist Revolution in the US Possible? and The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record — as well as two titles by Thomas Sankara, The Communist Manifesto and Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power.

A visit to a book distributor in Baltimore that features books on Africa resulted in two orders, the first for 50 copies of We Are Heirs of the World’s Revolutions by Sankara, followed by another order of 50 titles.

Sales volunteers are contacting prison librarians with the goal of making more revolutionary literature available to workers behind bars. Thus far, contacts and visits with over 15 librarians have been made, mainly in the vast system of state prisons in California.

Pathfinder titles have also caught the attention of Baker and Taylor, one of the largest book wholesalers in the U.S. Pathfinder books have been featured in their twice yearly Shelfworthy sales promotion, which offers immediate shipment of titles from smaller publishers to retail bookstores. The wholesaler’s Shelfworthy web page includes 25 titles from Pathfinder, often with a picture of the cover and description of the book.

The spring sales effort began March 10 and runs through July 31. Volunteers are setting goals, with special attention to establishing new bookstore and library accounts in cities and towns throughout North America, making it easier for workers to get their hands on books that go to the heart of explaining politics today.