Book Sense and History Channel Recognize Three Fire on the Mountain Bookstore Campaigns

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Booksellers' Fire on the Mountain campaigns have been so impressive that Book Sense and The History Channel announced on October 18 that they had decided to recognize, not one, but three independent booksellers for their firehouse fundraising efforts.

The bookstores are:

  • Maria's Bookshop of Durango, Colorado;
  • Forget Me Not Books of Spring Green, Wisconsin; and
  • That Bookshop at Mountebanq Place of Conway, Arkansas.

Each store will be named at the end of the Monday, October 28, air date of the History Channel documentary based on John N. Maclean's book, Fire on the Mountain: The True Story of the South Canyon Fire (Washington Square Press). The History Channel is seen in 80 million households and is ranked the third-favorite basic cable channel overall among cable subscribers.

"With so many wonderful fundraising and community events, and pictures, descriptions, and displays sent to us from Book Sense bookstores, it was hard to pick just one community to receive the $2,500 contribution from The History Channel and Washington Square Press for local firefighters," said Meg Smith, business development and marketing manager. "So, The History Channel generously offered to donate funds for two extra awards."

The History Channel will donate $2,500 to the Durango Fire and Rescue Authority, thanks to the efforts of Maria's Bookshop, which was recognized for orchestrating an impressive Fire on the Mountain campaign. Additionally, Forget Me Not Books and That Bookshop at Mountebanq Place will receive $500 each to donate to their local fire companies.

The Book Sense/The History Channel Fire on the Mountain, Campaign for Communities: Firefighter Fundraiser promotion kicked off September 9. Since then, booksellers have been conducting their own in-store fundraising campaigns for local firefighters to tie in with The History Channel's documentary. The special campaign encouraged booksellers to mount theme displays and to work with community members in organizing and hosting special events. Smith noted that over 600 bookstores requested Fire on the Mountain promotional materials from Book Sense.

In Durango, Colorado, Maria's Bookshop joined forces with the Durango Public Library and the Durango Herald Small Press, the town's daily paper, for three promotional campaigns. Fire on the Mountain author Maclean held a presentation and book signing at Fort Lewis College on October 3; on October 14, Maria's, the Durango Public Library, and the Durango Herald premiered The History Channel documentary at the local Abbey Theatre; and, on October 16, also at the Abbey, the Durango Fire and Rescue Authority conducted a slide show presentation of the recent local Missionary Ridge Fire. Additionally, Maria's had a large display window dedicated to Fire on the Mountain along with other fire related books.

Maria's Bookshop's owner, Peter Schertz, commented on the award via e-mail that "we are thrilled…. We are very proud to be recognized for this promotional effort. When I say we, I include the co-sponsors, Durango Public Library, and the Durango Herald Small Press, as well as our very generous community." (Look for more on Maria's Bookshop's Fire on the Mountain Campaign in next week's BTW.)

In Spring Green, Wisconsin, Pat Olbert, manager of Forget Me Not Books, told BTW that everyone at the store is thrilled about being recognized for their efforts. Forget Me Not Books, which opened just under seven months ago, conducted a number of promotions to raise money for the Spring Green Fire Department. It created a unique life-sized firefighter -- complete with hose -- to highlight Maclean's book and the upcoming documentary. It used a firefighter's boot for collections, and, in late September, the store entered the mannequin display in the homecoming parade with a sign that read, "Support Your Fire Department -- Forget Me Not Books will donate 10 percent of Homecoming Weekend sales to our local fire department." As the float went down the parade route, candy, Fire on the Mountain bookmarks, and coupons advertising the bookstore's 10 percent contribution to the fire department were distributed.

"It was so exciting to put [the campaign] together, and it was really fun," said Olbert. "This is the first promotion we've been involved with and to be so successful is great. We're hoping to [create] a great big check for the fire department and get the press involved" to cover the presentation to the fire department. She added "Book Sense has been so terrific" for her young store, helping it stay "one-step ahead."

In-store display at
That Bookstore at Mountebanq Place.

About 700 miles to the south of Spring Green, in Conway, Arkansas, That Bookshop at Mountebanq Place conducted fundraising for three Conway Fire Departments: two volunteer departments and one professional fire department. That Bookshop's in-store and window display (see photo) was designed and then built by two high school sisters, who also work part-time for the bookstore.

Ironically, only a week after their displays went up, That Bookshop's Fire on the Mountain promotion made statewide news as the subtext to what was a very real and devastating fire in Conway. When an electrical fire started across the street from the bookstore on an early Monday morning, it brought out the local NBC-TV news affiliate to cover the fire.

"When the cameraman [Ryan Gregory] walked by the window display, he saw the fire across the street reflected in my window display of fire-related books and items," said Mary Alice Hurst, owner of That Bookshop in Mountebanq Place. The cameraman was stunned at the coincidence. "He caught [the fire's reflection in the window display] on camera. It was on the 5 o'clock news, then the 10:00, then the 11:00, and then the next day was picked up by the 6:00 a.m. segment of the [morning show]. And the fundraiser got statewide news coverage."

Still, That Bookshop was recognized more for the quality of its displays than the news coverage. Hurst refused to take kudos for the success of her campaign, giving all the credit to the two high-school sisters, and said that it only made perfect sense to recognize Maria's Bookshop's efforts. "I sent them a congratulatory letter," she said.

The Fire on the Mountain promotion was publicized on 44 History Channel commercials during the month of October. Bookseller fundraisers officially conclude Friday, October 25. --David Grogan