Free Books

From Rev. Jeremy Simons, Cathedral Chaplain
August 27, 2019

At last Sunday evening’s organ vespers, attended by over 350 people most of whom were not members of the congregation, we gave away plenty of books. We have a good supply of books of the Writings in Russian, but we almost never sell any of them. Quite a few people were at the vespers who spoke Russian and they were happy to receive a book. Interestingly, the Russian market for books of the Writings is significant enough that they are beautifully printed there by a commercial publisher. It would be nice to know how many they sell and who buys them, since the organized church barely exists there.

For a number of years, the Swedenborg Foundation has had a policy of making the Writings as widely and freely available as possible, both online and in print. Rather than undercutting sales and revenues, this has resulted in increases in both, as well as a dramatic expansion in the number of people exposed to the Heavenly Doctrine.

The Swedenborg Foundation recently sent a shipment to Bryn Athyn of 2,000 free books (in English)–1,000 copies of Heaven and Hell (New Century Edition deluxe hardback version), 500 copies of True Christianity volume 2 (deluxe paperback edition) and 500 copies of The Ten Commandments (which is a recent compilation of passages from True Christianity, Apocalypse Explained and other treatments from the Writings about the Ten Commandments). These free books will be available at the Cathedral, some will be sent to West Africa, and others distributed in different areas.

When the Swedenborg Foundation and other publishers print books, it is most cost effective to print large quantities. They need to estimate how quickly they can sell them and compare that with the storage costs. Often books do not sell as well as anticipated so they are given away for free. The book Heaven and Hell is the Foundation’s longtime best seller, so we always have plenty of them on hand – but in this case we still have too many and need to give some away.

Even free books are expensive to give away, since the freight costs for sending them to Bryn Athyn is about $2000, and mailing them overseas, such as to West Africa, is even higher. Storing them ourselves is also an issue. Rt. Rev. David Lindrooth and I would appreciate any help with this, especially with sending them overseas.

As we start the new school year, this may be a little reminder that following what is written in these books is what we are all about in this community. So buying them, selling them, and giving them away is a high priority.

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