The Elevator Group, a small press located in Paoli, Penn., and John Presta, an online bookseller and author, hope that a letter to Presta from President Barack Obama will jumpstart sales of Presta’s 2010 release, Mr. and Mrs Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners and 300 Volunteers Did It. Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots chronicles Obama’s rise in politics, from his unsuccessful 2000 campaign for U.S. House of Representatives to his successful race for the U.S. Senate in 2004.
Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots was released in January 2010 in hardcover, trade paper, and e-book formats. The total print run was 4,300; to date, 3,500 copies have sold, including 1,000 hardcover, 2,500 paper, and 120 e-books.
Last year, Presta, an online bookseller who used to own a bricks-and-mortar bookstore in Chicago called Reading on Walden, sent complimentary copies of Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots to Obama and to other White House officials with Chicago connections. Last week, Presta finally received a letter from Obama, thanking him for the book. Obama wrote that Presta was “highly qualified” and “uniquely positioned” to write about Obama’s emergence on the national political scene, adding, “Your story demonstrates the value of civic involvement upon which our country was founded.”
Presta told PW that marketing for Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots will now revolve around the theme, “What’s Obama Reading?” Sheila Vance, The Elevator Group’s publisher, has not scheduled another print run yet, but says that quotes from Obama’s letter will be included on future editions of Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots, as well as featured on all advertising, including title descriptions posted on the publisher’s website and the websites of online retailers.
“[Obama’s letter] solidifies the connection between my book and his book, Dreams From My Father. It took Dreams From My Father nine years before it caught on; I discuss this at length in my book,” Presta noted.