One Book, One Philadelphia (Feb. 7—Apr. 12) is not only the newest citywide book club, it's also the one with the most marketing money behind it, and has more than 150 events planned. According to project coordinator Lori Blount at the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation, the book club has received more than $250,000 in services and donations from sponsors such as Independence Blue Cross, Comcast, Rite Aid Pharmacy and Peco Energy Company. Starbucks has even organized book discussions at its area cafes. The mayor's office and the school district are also involved in promoting the city's first selection, Lorene Cary's 1995 historical novel The Price of a Child (Vintage), set in Philadelphia, about a slave woman who travels the Underground Railroad to freedom.
"We've printed and stickered 25,000 copies just for Philadelphia," said Vintage v-p, publicity director Russell Perreault, who has observed a marked increase in sales not just within the city limits, but in outlying counties. At Robin's Bookstore, Philadelphia's oldest independent bookstore, owner Larry Robin reported that "we've sold almost 500 copies since the announcement was made in November. That's the most of any one book for us." For readers who want to recycle their copies of The Price of a Child, Rite Aid set up donation boxes at more than 100 of its local drugstores. The books will then be transferred to the library's bookstore, the Book Corner, which will distribute them for free.
Local author Cary told PW, "I'm so excited to be part of it. The Price of a Child was not an obvious choice; it's not a safe book." For her part, Cary will be doing as many readings as possible to promote the program: 11 libraries, 12 high schools and two churches. To keep up with increased interest in the book, the library has made what Blount describes as "a big investment. We have 2,000 copies of the book in circulation, or 35 per branch; usually we order 160 copies for a bestseller." In addition, the library bought 1,300 copies to distribute to every classroom in all of the area's high schools and printed 150,000 resource guides, which are also available online at www.library.phil.gov.
To involve younger readers in the citywide celebration, the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation has selected 24 titles about slavery and the underground railroad for grades 1—8. Among them are Jeannette Winter's Follow the Drinking Gourd (Knopf) and Virginia Hamilton's The House of Dies Drer (Pocket Books).