No Popular Theravada Bestsellers?

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

No Popular Theravada Bestsellers?

Postby christopher::: » Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:28 am

My family and i arrived in NY last Friday. Today whilst at Border's bookstore i couldn't find one Theravadan book among well over 100 books on Buddhism... Everything available was by a Mahayana author, primarily Tibetan and Zen Buddhist. The Dhammapada was probably the only exception. Is this the case elsewhere as well? I had found books by Ajahn Chah and Joseph Goldstein last year, but i was wondering- with so many wise Bikkhus and Ajahns who make their dhamma talks available for free online, do they actively avoid publishing books?

:reading:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
User avatar
christopher:::
 
Posts: 1326
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:56 am

Re: No Popular Theravada Bestsellers?

Postby Clayton » Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:47 am

No, there are some books published, but a lot of Theravada teachers make their work available online (including books) for free out of compassion. This has been a great benefit to me in my practice. Check out Amazon if you want hard copies...

Clayton
Clayton
 
Posts: 17
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2009 3:29 pm

Re: No Popular Theravada Bestsellers?

Postby Ben » Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:56 am

Hi Christopher

Great to hear you're in NY. I hope you and your family are having a great time!
Sadly, its the case most places I've been as well. I think the main issue is that booksellers have a very thin margin from which to pay for rent, wages, and all their other costs and then make a profit, so they will order in what they know will sell. About three years ago the closest thing to a Theravada book I bought in Borders was Jack Kornfield's 'After the ecstacy, the laundry'. And it was disappointing!

Last year I revisited the Theosophical Bookshop in Melbourne. Despite the Theosophical Society playing a pivotal role in bringing Theravada to the West in the late 19th Century, most of the books in the Buddhism section were of that bastard-hybrid genre of "New Ageified" Tibetan and Zen. You know, that touchy-feely stuff that you wouldn't touch with a barge poll.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16314
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: No Popular Theravada Bestsellers?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:03 am

Isn't Analayo's Satipatthana book a best seller?
Mawkish1983
 
Posts: 1175
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:46 am
Location: Essex, UK

Re: No Popular Theravada Bestsellers?

Postby Ben » Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:45 am

Yes, but again, amongst whom?
I would say amongst Theravadin practitioners in the West.
And how many would they number in any town and city?
Its all about market size.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16314
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: No Popular Theravada Bestsellers?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Wed Mar 31, 2010 6:12 am

Hmmm. That's why there's a whole section in the multistory bookstore in Manchester devoted to Bibles but not even a shelf of Physics books.

There's always amazon :)
Mawkish1983
 
Posts: 1175
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:46 am
Location: Essex, UK

Re: No Popular Theravada Bestsellers?

Postby Ben » Wed Mar 31, 2010 6:27 am

Mawkish1983 wrote:There's always amazon :)


Don't forget your online Dhamma booksellers:

-- www.pariyatti.org
-- www.dhammabooks.com

metta

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16314
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: No Popular Theravada Bestsellers?

Postby PeterB » Wed Mar 31, 2010 7:22 am

Its long been clear that there is is a direct and largely inverse ratio between best sellers lists and what the Buddha actually taught.
I dont see that changing. The popular taste is for the ersatz and what makes you feel good in the short term.
" With a Foreword By HH The Dalai Lama" is usually a reliable indicator that it need not detain one.
PeterB
 
Posts: 3907
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: No Popular Theravada Bestsellers?

Postby BlackBird » Wed Mar 31, 2010 7:35 am

The market isn't there for the cold hard facts that many of the Theravadin Bestsellers present. As Ben mentioned booksellers have pretty tight margins, so when they stock their 'spirituality' shelves they're going to ask themselves what's going to sell the more?

It's not going to be your Theravadin texts, which offer a fairly grim picture for all those still infatuated with life.
It's probably gonna be your Mahayana and Pseudo-Buddhist texts, which more often appeal to the romance of the human condition, in a more 'life affirming' way.

PeterB wrote: " With a Foreword By HH The Dalai Lama" is usually a reliable indicator that it need not detain one.


Except of course "What the Buddha Taught" by Bhikkhu Bodhi :)

metta
Jack
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
User avatar
BlackBird
 
Posts: 1861
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:07 pm
Location: New Zealand

Re: No Popular Theravada Bestsellers?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Mar 31, 2010 7:41 am

BlackBird wrote:
PeterB wrote: " With a Foreword By HH The Dalai Lama" is usually a reliable indicator that it need not detain one.


Except of course "What the Buddha Taught" by Bhikkhu Bodhi

Ven Walpola Rahula not Ven Bodhi. Maybe you mean: In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon (Teachings of the Buddha) by Bhikkhu Bodhi and The Dalai Lama
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19919
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: No Popular Theravada Bestsellers?

Postby BlackBird » Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:03 am

tiltbillings wrote:Maybe you mean: In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon (Teachings of the Buddha) by Bhikkhu Bodhi and The Dalai Lama


Yeah that's the one Tilt :coffee: :rofl: :popcorn: :group:

tiltbillings wrote:by Bhikkhu Bodhi and The Dalai Lama


Interesting that the authorship is titled that way, considering the Dalai Lama only does a couple of pages foreword for Ven. Bodhi's work. You would almost think the way it's put that it was a 50/50 project.

Makes one wonder if the Dalai Lama's name isn't being used as a bit of a marketing tool for these publications.

metta
Jack
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
User avatar
BlackBird
 
Posts: 1861
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:07 pm
Location: New Zealand

Re: No Popular Theravada Bestsellers?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:34 am

BlackBird wrote:
Makes one wonder if the Dalai Lama's name isn't being used as a bit of a marketing tool for these publications.
I do not think there is any question about it.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19919
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: No Popular Theravada Bestsellers?

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Mar 31, 2010 12:44 pm

BlackBird wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Maybe you mean: In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon (Teachings of the Buddha) by Bhikkhu Bodhi and The Dalai Lama


Yeah that's the one Tilt :coffee: :rofl: :popcorn: :group:

tiltbillings wrote:by Bhikkhu Bodhi and The Dalai Lama


Interesting that the authorship is titled that way, considering the Dalai Lama only does a couple of pages foreword for Ven. Bodhi's work. You would almost think the way it's put that it was a 50/50 project.

Makes one wonder if the Dalai Lama's name isn't being used as a bit of a marketing tool for these publications.

metta
Jack

The pedant strikes again :guns:
It isn't actually 'titled' that way, just listed that way by Amazon - look properly at the cover and you will see the two monks' contributions correctly recognised.
I'm sure that the (very obviously non-Buddhist :tongue: ) bookseller is using HHDL's name for marketing, but not so sure about the publisher. It shouldn't be surprising, anyway, in the light of the bookseller's priorities, as mentioned by Ben.
:namaste:
Kim
User avatar
Kim OHara
 
Posts: 3196
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: No Popular Theravada Bestsellers?

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Mar 31, 2010 2:29 pm

Clayton wrote:No, there are some books published, but a lot of Theravada teachers make their work available online (including books) for free out of compassion. This has been a great benefit to me in my practice. Check out Amazon if you want hard copies...


All good points above, but especially Clayton's above. Many Theravada monks and teachers offer their books only for the cost of publication and many not even for that, just completely free.

Even The Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation, which distributes free books, has mostly Theravada authors even though it is a Mahayana company located in a Mahayana country (Taiwan).
http://www.budaedu.org/en/book/II-02main.php3

But in praise of some Mahayana teachers; there are some such as Thich Nhat Hanh, who have eared about two million dollars USD from book sales and have used it all to open more monasteries, not for any personal use at all.
User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8221
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Re: No Popular Theravada Bestsellers?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:55 pm

The use of the Dalai Lama's name on the front cover is a marketing device. That there is a forward by the Dalai Lama likely carries little weight with Theravadins, but it may attract the attention of Mahayanists to a "hinayana" book and those with a general interest in Buddhism. All of which is not a bad thing.
Attachments
bodhi.jpg
bodhi.jpg (23.01 KiB) Viewed 1229 times
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19919
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: No Popular Theravada Bestsellers?

Postby Sobeh » Wed Mar 31, 2010 6:13 pm

I almost exclusively use Wisdom Publications; Theravadans are more similar to graduate students than to the general reading public, imo, and to that extent are still a small population unable to make a dedicated storefront financially viable.
User avatar
Sobeh
 
Posts: 329
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:35 am
Location: Salt Lake City, UT, US

Re: No Popular Theravada Bestsellers?

Postby Aloka » Wed Mar 31, 2010 6:24 pm

For anyone living in the UK, I recommend Wisdom Books. Their prices are comparable with Amazon and one can order by phone as well as online. They're very friendly and willing to get books in for customers if they don't have them in stock.

http://www.wisdom-books.com/SiteSearchResults.asp?Keywords=middle+length+discourses&SearchType=2&Submit=+Go+


.
User avatar
Aloka
 
Posts: 3772
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: No Popular Theravada Bestsellers?

Postby christopher::: » Sat Apr 03, 2010 10:49 am

Very interesting. Thank you all for your responses.

:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
User avatar
christopher:::
 
Posts: 1326
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:56 am

Re: No Popular Theravada Bestsellers?

Postby alan » Sat Apr 03, 2010 12:46 pm

Was leafing through that book today, so I have it in mind. The intro sounds more like the result of a corporate marketing team than a real person. Of course his favorite bit is that it shows how much we have in common.
But to the topic: If the book tells you Buddhism is about paying attention while you eat that plum, grooving on the plumness of the plum, and it's all sweet, baby, if you just pay attention to the moment, well then that book will appeal.
alan
 
Posts: 2604
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:14 am
Location: Miramar beach, Fl.

Re: No Popular Theravada Bestsellers?

Postby alan » Sat Apr 03, 2010 12:52 pm

Although I prefer not to peal my plums.
alan
 
Posts: 2604
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:14 am
Location: Miramar beach, Fl.

Next

Return to Theravāda for the modern world

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests