I conducted a study on the possibility of spreading The Urantia Book through the book trading network in Ukraine. Based on my research, I can describe the following possible book distribution channels in Ukraine.
Individual sales over the Internet
We posted an announcement with a proposition to buy The Urantia Book at the Urantia Association of Ukraine Website, http://www.urantia.org.ua/p/2013.html, as well as on all possible free resources on the Internet (Websites ads, catalogs). Readers could order by phone or by email. A buyer could pay for the book on delivery. Shipping was done through commercial delivery service, “Nova Poshta” (New Mail). This delivery method was very convenient because in Ukraine there is a network of delivery offices. Buyers need to come to the nearest office in his/her city and pick up his purchase. The average delivery period in Ukraine is 1-2 days, and postage for one book costs about $2 to any city in Ukraine.
Usually those who buy the book recommend it to friends. After that, friends began to place their own orders. Most of the books were sold by these two methods.
Small bookstores and book markets
There are many small private and public bookstores and kiosks in Ukraine that usually work directly with book publishers on their own. Book placement at these stores is very difficult because The Urantia Book was not published in Ukraine. Because of this, major publishing houses will not promote the book either. Thus smaller stores cannot order it through publishing catalogs. There are some small shops that sell esoteric books and souvenirs that were willing to place the book. In Kiev, several of these types of stores were given copies.
There are disadvantages to this type of book placement: the book price doubles and thus sales are hindered; working with each shop requires a great deal of personal effort, which is inconvenient at times to contact, visit, and bring books and discuss sales with each. Sale prices are also doubled at book bazaars. Through one contract, based on this method, only one book was sold in 3 months.
Large retail networks
In Ukraine there are two major book shopping networks that distribute printed materials and books. This is the network of commercial bookstores “Chitay Misto” (Read Town) and a company that sells books through the post mail service called “Book Club.” Stores of Chytay Misto network are usually located in shopping malls or in a central area of the city. In Ukraine we have 39 such stores. In the summer of 2014 – together with Chris Wood – we decided to put books into the Chitay Misto’s trading network. With regard to the other company, Book Club, we would love to get into their catalog because it will offer us a wide audience of Ukrainian readers. Today we are still in negotiations with this company about the possibility.
Spreading The Urantia Book through Chytay Misto
In December, 2014, I, on behalf of the legal entity Urantia Association of Ukraine, signed an agreement for the implementation of book sales through the trading network Chytay Misto. Prior to this, the marketing manager offered us a commercial proposition to choose the terms of the placement of books. For example, the book can be placed on a special promotional pedestal, shelves, near the cash register, on banners near the books in the storefront, or a special promotional audio clip can be played with some frequency in the store. All of these services are commercial and cost some money. Finally, we chose to place The Urantia Book in three stores in Kiev, one located in the city center, the other two in large shopping malls.
Two weeks after sales began, through the Chytay Miston network, one book was sold. A pleasant surprise for me was that in one of these bookstores, a seller praised The Urantia Book and now reads it.
After completing the advertising campaign, we will have a choice: leave the book in the trading network but under the usual placement conditions and in the corresponding section of the store, or continue an advertising campaign in the event of success. Of course, I would like books to be in front of visitors, so I would be happy if we were able to continue the advertising campaign.
I am confident that we can and should use all avenues available to us in the way of modern marketing tools to distribute The Urantia Book. As stated in the Parable of the Shrewd Steward,
If you were so diligent in making gains for yourselves when in the service of self, why should you show less diligence in gaining souls for the kingdom since you are now servants of the brotherhood of man and stewards of God? (Paper 169:2.2, page 1853.5)
I believe that we must use all appropriate, proportionate, and reasonable tools to reach prospective readers of The Urantia Book.