Novel Inspires Bookstore Philanthropy [3]

Last week, Maria's Bookshop [5], in Durango, Colorado, announced through the store Twitter feed [6] that it was issuing a "gentle challenge" to other independent bookstores.

Through Memorial Day, Maria's will donate $2 for each copy sold of Karl Marlantes' Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War [7] (Atlantic Monthly Press) to the local chapter of Disabled American Veterans. Inventory manager Joe Foster said the project was inspired by a conversation with a customer looking for novels about the Vietnam War. "It feels like this book was written for veterans," Foster said.

The Clinton Book Shop [8], in Clinton, New Jersey, was the first store to take up Maria's challenge. "Joe Foster's lead was phenomenal," said manager Rob Dougherty. "I said, 'Look, do you mind if we take that idea from you?'"

"We've done this on a number of occasions with other organizations," Dougherty said, adding that linking book sales to donation themes has provided a way for The Clinton Book Shop to be more involved in local philanthropy. "The opportunities to reach out to the community are there," he said. With Matterhorn, the store will donate $2 for each copy sold to the local chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America.

The second store to join the challenge was Third Place Books [9], in Lake Forest Park, Washington, which will donate $5 to Disabled American Veterans for each copy sold. "I liked the book so much, and it just seemed like such a natural thing to do," said managing partner Robert Sindelar.

Foster and Dougherty are also fans of Matterhorn, which was chosen as an April Indie Next List Great Read [10]. "We've been selling quite a few books," said Foster. "It's great." Dougherty agreed: "I really do believe this is going to be a breakout book."

"I'm just delighted that they're doing this," said Marlantes. "These [veterans'] organizations are really helpful. They reach out to people who need help, and they do good work."

Marlantes will be visiting all three stores this spring. He will be at Maria's Bookshop on May 2, Third Place Books on May 19, and Clinton Book Shop on June 6.

The donations are off to a strong start: After its first week on sale, Matterhorn debuted in the 12th position on the hardcover fiction Indie Bestseller List. --Sarah Rettger [11]