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Flash mobs for books - Martha Carr

The Great Recession is causing a lot of Americans to get up out of their barcalounger and take action to create their own big ideas. Ingenuity mixed with a strong dose of optimism is a unique and powerful trait in America.

It's at that exact moment when things really look dire that we come up with some pretty interesting dreams and plow through till they succeed.

Marcus Brotherton, author of, "A Company of Heroes," about the real Band of Brothers, has an idea he's been sharing to bring back books.

Brotherton was a recent guest columnist for Rachelle Gardner's blog, "Rants and Ramblings of a Literary Agent," which, by the way, has won the best blog for writers for the past three years from Writer's Digest -- no small feat. Brotherton put forth the idea of purposely buying books again.

He brings up the case of almond farmers in the 1980's who overcame a dwindling market by pointing out the obvious and actually asking for help. Blue Diamonds put out a series of ads with farmers standing knee deep in almonds imploring people to go buy almonds.

The ploy worked and almonds have been a hot item in the snack food industry ever since. His idea is to ask everyone to just buy one hardcover book a month. If a reader has to, they can go with an eBook or a paperback.

What's even better are all of the comments that came tumbling in from people who said they can't find a book they'd want to read. Thousands of books being published every month and not one would suit their taste.

Fortunately, there's the 110-year-old, American Booksellers Association -- www.bookweb.org -- that has a searchable roster of independent booksellers all over the country, who would be happy to help anyone find a book just right for them, even over the phone.

There were also equally as many people who said that buying a book was not in their budget, which is understandable these days. However, if all of the people who can't afford to buy a book went and got a library card and used it just once a month, the libraries can enjoy a Renaissance as well.

You can still do your part to make reading popular once again, even if your wallet is empty.

There's another idea I'd like to add to the mix. It's always been difficult to make reading seem fun, because there's nothing to watch. All of the excitement, thrills and romance is in our heads, which is even better because it's limitless and more private than the internet.

However, that makes it tough to create a reality show around it or have a video go viral on YouTube. No one's going to watch "Reading with the Stars." It's amazing that Oprah managed to make book clubs as popular as they were for a few years, but even then it was the discussion of the books and the camaraderie that sold the audience.

So, let's create a few hundred Flash Mobs all over the country with people spontaneously reciting opening lines to their favorite books in a continual wave across the center of America's shopping malls. We can even put them to music and include synchronized moves. Synchronization managed to make swimming seem more entertaining, and people can do this without getting wet or using nose plugs.

We'll call them First Line Flash Mobs and they can be all thriller with everyone in trench coats or all romance and participants can wear feather boas or tween novels with a crowd in prom attire. The first lines don't have to come from classics or even bestsellers, but from favorites.

Book stores can hand out coupons or even free books and libraries can sign up people for cards. It's an idea with legs that might lead to more great adventures, both in our imagination and the local food courts. More adventures to follow. To find out more about Rachelle Gardner's blog, go to www.MarthaRandolphCarr.com.

Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. Her latest book is the memoir, "A Place to Call Home." E-mail Martha at: Martha@caglecartoons.com.