How Great PR Gets Books on Shelves of Stores

Published: October 12, 2016

This week, to celebrate the International Day of the Girl, we are publishing Kakuma Girls, the inspiring story of teenage girls at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. It’s by 17-year-old Clare Morneau.

Ever since this book went on sale at Indigo and stores across Canada a few days ago, Clare has been a media sensation. She’s been interviewed on TV and profiled in magazines and newspapers, and as her publisher (and a former longtime journalist) I think she shows remarkable composure for a girl in the middle of Grade 12 stresses and strains. Maybe it runs in the family: Clare’s father is Canada’s finance minister, Bill Morneau.

The media coverage is great for Clare’s mission, to raise money for Kakuma Refugee Camp, which was built with funds from the company founded by her father’s family.

It’s also great for getting books on shelves, which is one of the critical jobs that our sales and distribution company does.

In Canada, over half of printed books are bought in physical stores, so it’s crucial to get books into stores—and not just settle for selling on amazon, that huge digital bookstore.

If you want to sell a lot of books, you need to get into bookstores like Indigo, and the only way to do it is through a sales and distribution company. As publisher, Barlow works with our fantastic new sales and distribution partner, Georgetown Publications.

When Clare came to us with her book, it was beautifully produced by Doug Laxdal of The Gas Company Inc. Doug and his team designed and produced the book at an exquisite level.

However, as of June, they did not have a way to sell the books in stores, apart from a couple of beautiful local bookstores in Toronto. That was when Clare’s PR rep, the very expert Alina Duviner, called me. I had worked with Alina on a previous book, and I knew Clare’s mother, Nancy McCain, so we started work to distribute Clare’s book.

We quickly created sell sheets for the PR reps who sell books on behalf of Georgetown to bookstores across Canada. Georgetown’s sales director, Rob Dawson, pitched Indigo and came away with an impressive order. Then, after Duviner orchestrated a stunning lineup of PR, Dawson called me back with exciting news. The bookstores were upping their orders; with all that PR, they wanted more books on shelves. Then came more big news: Walmart was making a significant order.

It was very impressive. It means Clare’s book will be on sale in the stores where people buy books. If as many Canadians buy this book as we hope, it will inspire young Canadians to reach out to teenagers on other continents, as Clare did. It will raise money to educate the girls in Kakuma so they can achieve their dreams.

It’s an inspiring story. The book is now on sale across Canada at stores near you, and on

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