Just a Little Bit More is now available on Amazon and the usually suspected places. What a journey – it was more than three years ago that a crazy idea invaded my soul telling me to write a book. To see this idea in book form and now categorized as a leading seller in Amazon (Kindle) categories “World History 21st Century” and “Economic History” is gratifying, if not mystifying. Of course, Amazon aids its own marketing processes with its various categories and sub-categories of descriptions; the categorizations facilitate the search process of finding a book, however, and no help is needed from the Dewey Decimal System. Guess how many books Amazon makes available to its online shoppers? A mere 8 million print books, and over 1 million ebooks. Yikes.
I’m very grateful to all those who have supported me thus far in the book writing, producing, and marketing processes. You are a formidable group; I’m indebted to each one of you. Those who read all 200 plus pages of the “small font” first edition (close to 300 folks) get gold stars for having done so. The consensus was in early and its lead position is unchallenged: the next edition must have a larger font size! Since I’ve been reading theology and non-fiction (almost) exclusively for twenty-five years, I’m quite accustomed to small font reading. (By way of comparison, check out best-selling The Black Swan by Nicolas Taleb – it’s the same font size as JaLBM‘s first edition.) I was happy to respond favorably to the feedback; the second edition of JaLBM is now available – larger font size and forty more pages with the exact same content. The ebook is available as well – font size variable! Thanks to ACTA Publications -Chicago for picking up JaLBM for national distribution; Blue Ocotillo, in collaboration with ACTA, remains the publisher of record for JaLBM.
I also know that some have had to “chew on” JaLBM a few pages at a time. Yes, it does cover some history and development of ideas. Thanks to those of you who wrestled with the issues and ideas presented and gave me your feedback. Special thanks to fellow author Jud Smith who told me, over dinner, that as an entrepreneur and business owner, he approached my work with some skepticism and trepidation. What would a first-time author who works as a pastor have to add (besides the predictable “love your neighbor”) to the societal conversation about work and economics? In the end, however, Jud says he was “converted” to the idea that capitalism – as it is now – can do much better. Special gold stars go out to three JaLBM readers of the first edition. Lee White, who (without being specific) is most likely more chronologically gifted than you are, said the font size was “no problem!” Lee says she remembers, as a young girl, Rockefeller and FDR being discussed at the family table in east Texas as her family lived and worked through the Great Depression and its consequences. Kevin Byckovski of Austin – one of the first to finish reading JaLBM in May, the month it came out – simply said “well-researched and easy to read.” Kevin shares a common trait (being an engineer) with one of my brothers, Mike Anderson, who says he polished off JaLBM in three days this past summer while on vacation. Smart guys in more ways than one!
Pastor Brad Highum and the folks at Abiding Love Lutheran Church in Austin enthusiastically took on JaLBM as a book study for six Sunday mornings this past summer. Their input was instrumental in helping put together JaLBM study guides for similar groups and book clubs. Brad reports that one of the classes this past summer started out with a participant comment: “Pastor, this isn’t light reading.” Brad responded with a pastoral wink of the eye and aplomb: “It’s not a light topic.” Social inequality and its causes, the persistence and reemergence of poverty in the US, and how to understand and uplift the common good – these are topics important to every single one of us. We typically have trouble talking about these topics with one another (watch a televised political debate or bring up these topics at the family Thanksgiving dinner – ha), without falling into the predictable red and blue ruts. Political solutions, yes, are needed and welcome – but the hyper-partisan ambiance currently in vogue mitigates mightily against these possibilities.
JaLBM, with help from the study guides, gives the opportunity for adult conversation – free of accusations and demonizing – while broaching these important topics. Why should the hyperbole (most of the time accurately described as such) spouted about on MSNBC and FOX News dictate our thinking and debate on these crucial issues? If you are a member of a faith community (church, synagogue, temple) or part of a book club, I hope you will consider JaLBM as a book to read, study, and discuss. And if so, may the ensuing conversations be fruitful and beneficial to our shared common good.
While I am a pastor of a Christian (Lutheran) congregation, and look at the world through the eyes and understanding of a specific faith tradition, I didn’t write JaLBM as a faith manifesto. The book is imbued with theological perceptions, but it doesn’t use overtly theological language. It’s not meant to be read only by people of faith. It’s meant for societal conversation at the broadest and deepest levels. Thanks to fellow writers (and golfers) Michael DiLeo, Matt Cohen, Bruce Selcraig, and Kevin Robbins for steering me on the right path in terms of intended audience. Conversation between people who are different (in terms of political persuasions, faith and/or cultural traditions, socio-economic levels) is imperative as it conversely dissipates in our midst.
A colleague (Joaquin Figueroa) recently wrote me: “As you say, this story is an old history, but not very well known. It’s about a few enriching themselves at the expense of the many. And the worst of it – the few think they are doing the many a favor. I hope a lot of folks read your book.”
For a personally inscribed copy of Just a Little Bit More: The Culture of Excess and the Fate of the Common Good, go to Blue Ocotillo Publishing.