BY SARA LOBMAN AND TONY HUNT
FRANKFURT, Germany - "The most important thing is to get books like these into people's hands," the buyer for a bookstore in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, said, looking over the Pathfinder stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair. She ordered some 200 books, including most of Pathfinder's titles in English, Spanish, and French. "These books by Che Guevara will sell fast," she noted.
Pathfinder's books on the history of the workers' movement and revolutionary and working-class politics in today's world got a good response from booksellers and youth at the October 15 - 20 event, as well as during a four-day sales trip in Germany following the fair. All told, 334 books were sold to 14 stores.
The Frankfurt Book Fair is among the largest in the world. Publishers and others in the book industry from 107 countries had booths at the fair, which filled 15 large halls spread out over 6 buildings. Some 287,000 people attended this year, mostly from the publishing trade, but also including significant numbers of young people from cities across Germany who took advantage of the two days the fair was open to the public. Tony Hunt from Pathfinder Distribution in London, Sara Lobman, the publisher's business manager from New York, and Pathfinder supporters from Sweden, France, and Belgium staffed the stand.
In addition to the order from The Netherlands, a bookstore in Copenhagen, Denmark, ordered 21 books, including 5 copies of John Coltrane and the Jazz Revolution of the 1960s by Frank Kofsky and three copies each of White Business, Black Music, also by Kofsky and Pombo: A Man of Che's `Guerrilla' by Harry Villegas. A bookstore in Delaware, in the United States, ordered 13 books, including several on the Cuban revolution, Leon Trotsky's The History of the Russian Revolution, Cointelpro: The FBI's Secret War on Political Freedom, and a copy of the Marxist magazine New International no. 10, which includes the article "Imperialism's March toward Fascism and War."
The owner of two bookstores in South Africa, one in Johannesburg and one in Pretoria, stopped in front of the Pathfinder stand on the first day of the fair. "Struggle- related titles sell well in South Africa," he commented, and placed an order. His stores are close to two of the largest universities in South Africa.
Many people were drawn to the booth to look through titles on the Cuban revolution. The German editions of several new biographies of Guevara are in bookstores now and both individuals and book buyers were interested in books by the revolutionary leader. Two young women from Erfurt, in eastern Germany, stopped by the stand to look through Che Guevara Speaks: Selected Speeches and Writings and several of the titles by Malcolm X. Another woman made arrangements to get a copy of Malcolm X on Afro-American History after the fair.
A woman from Turkey, currently living in Germany, offered a list of bookstores in Ankara and Istanbul that sell English-language books. A woman from Macedonia asked for a copy of The Balkan Wars (1912-13) by Leon Trotsky and a man from Iran for a copy of Opening Guns of World War III in Farsi. A young woman from Germany and her boyfriend, originally from Ireland, were interested in Woman's Evolution: From Matriarchal Clan to Patriarchal Family by Evelyn Reed, and purchased a copy of the book.
Following the book fair and several meetings with stores in Frankfurt, Hunt headed north to visit bookstores and libraries in Berlin, Gottingen, Hamburg, and Leipzig. Lobman visited the southern cities of Heidelberg, Freiburg, Tubingen, and Munich. A fair number of bookstores carry English-language titles.
Getting Pathfinder titles into these stores makes them accessible to workers and young people who would otherwise not be able to read them. For example, a high school teacher who stopped by the booth at the Frankfurt book fair had picked up a copy of Malcolm X Talks to Young People at a bookstore in Munich. She now uses the book for one of her classes.
The main public research library in Munich has many Pathfinder titles. Additionally, bookstore owners in Heidelberg and Munich, after placing orders, volunteered to send copies of the Pathfinder catalog to professors at the nearby universities who they thought would be especially interested.
During the sales trip, 11 bookstores in six cities placed orders for a total of 101 books. Several of these stores will be carrying Pathfinder books for the first time. The top sellers were Pombo: A Man of Che's `Guerrilla,' with 8 copies ordered; Che Guevara Speaks, with 7 copies; White Business, Black Music, with 6 copies; and John Coltrane and the Jazz Revolution of the 1960s, with 5 copies ordered.
Also among the wide range of titles stores ordered were
13 books by Malcolm X, 2 copies of The Changing Face of
U.S. Politics by Jack Barnes (one in English and one in
Spanish), 3 copies of the upcoming title Capitalism's
World Disorder, also by Barnes, and 4 copies of Democracy
and Revolution by George Novack.
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