Two independent bookstores were delighted when Random House's The Greatest Generation display contest recently ended in a tie. Hawley-Cooke Booksellers in Louisville, Ky., and World Eye Bookshop in Greenfield, Mass., shared the top honors for their innovative, community-oriented promotion of Tom Brokaw's bestseller.

The contest's prize was a local appearance by the too-busy-to-tour NBC News anchor and author of the mega-selling tribute to Americans who served the nation in WWII, as well as 200 free copies of the book. Hawley-Cooke hosted Brokaw at the recently restored Brown Theatre in downtown Louisville on Sunday, July 25. The store's three locations gave out free tickets until the 1400-seat theater was filled.

"Brokaw talked and took questions for an hour, and signed 700 books for a little over another hour," said Christina Clifford, Hawley-Cooke's author-event coordinator. "We had an orchestra playing Big Band music. And his book was available for sale, but customers were encouraged to bring copies, since to date we've sold over 3150 copies."

Brokaw is slated to be at World Eye's speaking-and-signing evening on Sunday, September 12. "Our participation in the contest has been a boost to the whole community," said manager Fran Gardner.

Indeed, it was "the unusually enthusiastic community-wide involvement" generated by Hawley-Cooke and World Eye that pushed them to the top, said Sheryl Stebbins, Random House Group v-p and marketing director.

Hawley-Cooke's effort was planned by Clifford. "She asked Louisville vets to bring in their pictures and memorabilia for a display that would run for two weeks," Stebbins told PW. "Then when the display was up, all their local stations covered the unveiling."

"Working on this project has been truly a memorable, often moving experience for me and indeed all of us," Clifford told PW. "The veterans and their families have been so appreciative of our effort to honor them."

Because of space limitations, the 3000-sq.-ft. World Eye opted for a window display only. Nevertheless, Stebbins said, "They got most of the downtown stores to put up displays as well, so it became a real community event. This was covered in the area's press, and several hundred people signed petitions supporting the event. The store also did their own video of many local vets telling their stories. It was really wonderful."