The book tour for Touching My Father's Soul: A Sherpa's Journey to the Top of Everest by Jamling Tenzing Norgay (Harper San Francisco) began where many smaller expeditions have, at Any Mountain, an outdoor sports and climbing store in Corte Madera, Calif. Nearly 450 people attended the launch co-sponsored by Book Passage, the Marin County independent, conveniently located next door. Paula Herman, events coordinator at Book Passage, told PW she would go much further to bring an author like this one to a special-interest audience.
The group at Any Mountain, many of them climbing enthusiasts, showed their appreciation by purchasing 150 books. Many also bought tickets for a raffle to benefit the Himalayan Society, a Nepalese travel guide organization. Any Mountain's owner Bud Hoffman is an avid promoter of the society, which supports schools in Nepal among other projects. His store donated the space, refreshments and outdoor gear for prizes, with Book Passage handling publicity and donating a percentage of the book sales. While not the first event co-sponsored by the two stores, this was one of the most successful.
Herman noted that while climbers are often avid attendees of such events, eager to meet the stars of their sport, they are not always the most reliable book buyers. She thought the benefit aspect of the event promoted book purchases, she told PW, and the personal nature of Jamling's story set it apart from other Everest books.
Jamling Tenzing Norgay is the son of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, who, with Edmund Hillary, was the first man to reach the summit of Everest, in 1953. Jamling's story goes beyond the usual adventure tale to include insights from Buddhist spirituality and the Sherpa view of climbing. The author spoke and showed slides of his adventures on the mountain, including scenes from the famous 1996 IMAX expedition, which he led.
Herman has found that taking a special-interest book to the location where its audience usually gathers can be a key to better sales. The store now tries to introduce major titles in the grief and healing genre at the Hospice of Marin, while titles on children and teens are taken to the meeting places of local parent/youth associations. The key is to find existing groups and venues that would be interested in a certain book. "These groups are often happy to have books brought to their attention, and," she added, "we usually give some portion of sales to the organization. So both sides benefit."