Publishers have tried some bizarre bookstore promotions to nab attention in an increasingly saturated tour world, but Algonquin's canine caper of a few weeks ago makes everything else look, well, dog-eared by comparison.

The Chapel Hill, N.C., house sent accomplished dogsledder Ann Mariah Cook, scores of Alaskan and Siberian huskies and other sledders -- including this reporter -- through the New Hampshire snow on a jaunt between two bookstores.

Cook is the author of Algonquin's Running North, the latest in a string of nonfiction adventure books written by women. Cook, her daughter and her husband, George, moved to Alaska several years ago to train for the grueling Yukon Quest. The book is the result of Cook's experiences, and the author is now on a cross-country book tour whose highlight included the New Hampshire trip between an Innisfree Bookshop in Meredith and another in Lincoln.

In the New York Times Book Review, Caroline Knapp, who knows a thing or two about dogs herself, having penned Pack of Two (Dell), a book on the bond between humans and canines, wrote of Running North, 'This is an explorer's tale with a feminine slant: Cook tells the story not just as dog lover and race handler, responsible for preparation and assistance, but also as wife and mother.'

The events that took place at both stores had a cozy feel, with hot chocolate and pastries supplementing the sight of the friendly hounds. Local media (one report inadvertently called it a 'bobsled' event) and a dogsledding video added to the day, as customers snowed Cook with questions about canines, Alaska and canines from Alaska. The dogs themselves, some of whom came into the store, seemed as interested in customers as customers were in them. 'It was the most successful event we ever had. We fielded more phone calls in advance than ever before,' said Beverly Hart, a manager at the Meredith store, which sold more than 60 copies of Running North that day.

Algonquin targeted the affair to reach beyond traditional readers. 'It's a different kind of bookstore event,' explained Algonquin marketing director Craig Popelars. 'A lot of people think it's just the book that brings people in. But you've got to say, `How can we extend ourselves beyond the reader?' In this case, it was dog lovers, kids, people who were looking for a little something different to cope with the winter.' Some customers came out for both the beginning and ending of the run.

What this sledder learned from all this was that even a short sled ride (total trail time was less than two hours), while not as tiring as the Yukon Quest, can prove as exhausting as an entire book tour, as the wind whipped, the sleds rattled and sledders tried to negotiate tight turns. And while one dog-phobic PW reporter was running scared as much as he was running north, the interactivity of the event made it enjoyable for both publisher and audience. All of which leads us to modify an old adage: you can never be too rich, too thin or bring too many dogs to a bookstore event.