The CharityFocus Book Journey Starts

Posted by Nipun Mehta on Sep 24, 2009
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Paul Van Slambrouck, former editor of Christian Science Monitor, has been rallying the CharityFocus troops to birth a book.  Yes, an actual, printable manifesto that goes beyond 140 characters of Twitter or a screenshot of a blog entry or couple pages of a magazine article.  And today, we took the first major step in that direction with our formal meeting with Berrett Koehlers.  As Steve Piersanti, founder and CEO of Berrett Koehlers, said of Paul's conceptual outline: "In all my years of publishing, I haven't seen many outlines of such caliber, this early in the process.  Clearly, this is done by someone who knows what they're doing!"

Perhaps what is most telling is how deeply CharityFocus values are embeded in the book unfolding itself.   For one, we never "pitched" the book.  Couple years ago, we were gifted tickets to a conference; Ragu and Nisha were representing us and ended up sitting next to Steve (Piersanti) at a lunch table.  An elated Ragu framed it to me as: "Dude, more than half of the books I own are published by BK!"  Right at that first conversation, Steve handed us an open invitation to write a book.  Fast forward to earlier this year.  Paul, who wrote the first story on CharityFocus in May 1999 and has been a volunteer for last several years, and I were playing tennis and on a casual change-over, we randomly start brainstorming a book.  We get into it, the conversation spills over into lunch and the next thing you know, Paul starts immersing himself into gift-economy books, conversing with various coordinators, attending public talks, and visioning a way to share the story of our experiments in generosity. 

And so it emerged. 

Tons of the details are still being fleshed out, including a timeline and possible themes and innovative distribution models, but we are all really excited about working together with Berrett Koehlers. In case you don't already know of them, read this article in Fast Company as an inspiring primer and then check out these factoids:

  • Independent Publisher: Founded in 1992, Berrett-Koehler remains an independent company owned by our employees, authors, customers, service providers, and other stakeholders.
  • Sales Success: Over 115 BK books (1 out of every 3 that we have published) have sold over 20,000 copies across all U.S. and international editions. Thirty have sold over 100,000 copies, and 4 have sold over 500,000 copies.
  • Bestseller Lists: BK books have appeared on numerous bestseller lists, including those of the New York Times, Book Sense, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Denver Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, BusinessWeek, the Wall Street Journal, and many others.
  • Rights Sales: We have made over 1,800 foreign language, audio, video, digital, book club, and other rights sales. BK books have been translated into over 40 different languages.
  • Multichannel Marketing: BK books are marketed through many different channels, including chain and independent bookstores, online booksellers, media publicity, e-mail marketing, Web sites, direct mail, special sales, corporate sales, conferences, distributors around the world, and others.
  • Media: BK authors have appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, Fox, CNBC, CSPAN-Book TV, NPR, Democracy Now, Air America, New Dimensions Radio, and scores of other television and radio outlets. Our books have been featured in Time, Newsweek, the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, The Economist, AlterNet, and hundreds of other magazines, newspapers, and online publications.
  • Awards: Over 40 BK books have won national awards.

Let's see what happens next. :)

Thank you, Paul, for stepping it up!

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Comments (4)

  • Richard wrote ...

    Hear! Hear! Or is it "Here, Here!" :)

  • Raj wrote ...

    Many Congratulations, looking forward to reading it! 

  • Trishna wrote ...

     Thanks Paul, for taking this first step!  Can't wait to see how the journey unfolds and to seeing what the book holds :)

  • Jenny wrote ...

    In the end, the big story of Charity Focus is (for me)  all about the vibrant constellation of smaller stories that surrounds it....and these stories, each wildly different but each with unfailing twists and surprises, and "endings" always far more magical than anything I could possibly have predicted or me, again and again, what happens when one is awake, and one gives, and one trusts.

    It's the only fire I want to stoke in my life, and the sprawling, smiling posse that is CF helps me do that.  Day after day.  Story after story.