As soon as a sign goes up showing a product for sale, someone somewhere comes to check it out. Why? Because he or she saw it. In the Bhagavad-gītā (2.62), Kṛṣṇa explains how living beings become attached to things: “While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them.”
Therefore, the third law of book distribution – The More You Show, The More You Sell – is based on an eternal principle. All advertisers know that when they make their products or services visible, people will begin to contemplate them. Contemplation means to think about a possible course of action or to seriously consider something. While contemplating a product or service, some people become attached and think, “There may be something in this for me.” From that thought comes the next: “How can I get this thing?” In this way products are sold.
Pour Out the Happiness
A good example of this is found in the soft drink industry. A recent Coca-Cola ad shows a stream of Coca-Cola cascading in slow motion from Coke’s new larger-sized bottle into several frosty glasses, along with the caption: “Pour out the happiness.” Most people know that a soft drink won’t actually bring them happiness; but amazingly, just because the sugary drink is put before them in an appealing ad, they still accept it as a possible means to happiness.
The same principle applies when you show Śrīla Prabhupāda’s transcendental books. People will take a look, and some will be attracted and buy them. The difference is that Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books really do pour out happiness. Unfortunately, people regularly buy an uncountable number of things that cannot bring them fulfillment. Compassionate devotees therefore show people Śrīla Prabhupāda’s transcendental books, which can actually satisfy their souls.
The Best Book Distributors
The well-known BBT artist Puṣkara Dāsa once lamented to Śrīla Prabhupāda that he was too busy to go out and sell his books because he was always absorbed in painting pictures for them. Śrīla Prabhupāda eased Puṣkara’s mind by saying, “The artists are the best book distributors.” In a letter to Jadurāṇī dated July 11, 1970, Śrīla Prabhupāda spoke about the art’s appeal in selling his books: “People become attracted with these unusual transcendental pictures at first, so even without reading the book they become inclined to purchase it.”
While it’s a fact that the paintings in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books catch people’s attention, those people must see the artwork to become attracted. That is, a picture may be worth a thousand words, but if no one sees it, how will the picture’s value be realized? Therefore this law of book distribution: The More You Show, The More You Sell.
Aside from the remarkable paintings, Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books are extraordinary in every respect due to their being the literary incarnation of Kṛṣṇa.1 Devotees who simply increase the ways in which they display Śrīla Prabhupāda’s transcendental books will increase without fail the number of books they distribute.
Display the Books
Books need to find their readers. If their authors hadn’t wanted others to read what they’d written, they wouldn’t have undergone the labor to publish their works in the first place. Śrīla Prabhupāda certainly wanted his books displayed. He said so hundreds of times. One meaning of the word display is “a prominent exhibition of something in a place where it can be easily seen.” Here are two of many examples in which Śrīla Prabhupāda requests his disciples to display his books:
I think so many men will be glad to receive our books, so please utilize this opportunity. Simply it requires determination and imagination. Maybe you can get the Indian Ambassador and his wife to hold a meeting at which many important men can be invited. If he and his wife are favorably impressed, certainly they can hold a nice meeting one evening. At that meeting you can speak and explain what our movement is and show slides and movies. Make a book table and display all of our books. Never mind if they also like to read from Ramakrishna. If you give them our KṚṢṆA book to read, very soon all other tastes will go away.
Please report to me fortnightly, and correspond with your other GBC men as well. I request that you always display and distribute my books wherever possible.
The statements Śrīla Prabhupāda makes about displaying his books contain three basic elements: to display his books with (a) determination, (b) imagination, and (c) wherever possible.