Buddhist publisher reaps profits of enlightenment

A BOOK on Buddhism seems an unlikely bestseller, but Tharpa Publications, which plans a list of exclusively Buddhist texts, has been encouraged by public reaction.

A promotion in February and March through 11 branches of Waterstone's bookshops led to sales of 2,000 copies of Introduction to Buddhism by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso in just six weeks. About 1,100 people came to the talks by Buddhist monks in the stores and more were turned away at the door.

The initial print-run of 7,500 has sold out and another run of 10,000 is planned.

Alison Ramsay, sales manager of Tharpa, attributes the success partly to a rejection of the materialism prevalent in the Eighties in favour of spiritual fulfilment. She also thinks that her total lack of experience in book-selling and distribution has enabled her to use unorthodox methods.

A practising Buddhist, Ms Ramsay realised that selling specialist books required some understanding of and sympathy with the subject. Shortly after arriving at Tharpa a year ago, she sacked its distributor and hired sales representatives who had an interest in Buddhism.

Her boldness, against the advice of many more experienced heads, is paying off. The company's turnover in the year to the end of March 1992 was pounds 60,000, rose to pounds 150,000 last year and is projected at pounds 250,000 this year.

The next task is to tackle the export market. Again Ms Ramsay plans to take an unorthodox approach and do without a distributor in Europe.

She is making contact with shops selling English-language books, first by mail and then by telephone, and she is hoping to meet the sellers in person at the Frankfurt book fair.

In further-flung areas she will rely on distributors. She hopes to boost sales in the US and look for new markets in New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and Malaysia, which has a Buddhist tradition.

The books published by Tharpa are all written by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, a meditation master from Tibet and a naturalised Briton. They provide a guide to the essential teachings of Mahayana Buddhism, which is now under threat in its homeland of Tibet because of political troubles.

The emphasis in the books on the practical application of Buddhist principles to the modern Western way of life has helped make them popular in schools and universities.

Ms Ramsay has spotted an opportunity in the National Curriculum's requirement that two world religions are studied in addition to Christianity. She has put forward Introduction to Buddhism as a possible text for the course.

Despite Buddhism's rejection of purely material wealth, Tharpa is run strictly as a business. 'We want to make a profit, even though much of it is ploughed back into the business or given to charity,' Ms Ramsay said.

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Business Anaylst

£60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...

Senior Project Manager

£60000 - £90000 per annum + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Global leading Energy Tra...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Oil & Energy Business Anaylst

£45000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Harrington Sta...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment