Scruffy college-kid-hippy-types carrying books—that’s generally not a noteworthy sight in Missoula, except that these days such types have been hired to carry, and distribute free advance copies of, one particular book: Wild Animus, by debut novelist Rich Shapero. The first book to be published by Too Far publishing in Woodside, Calif., Wild Animus is, as the back cover reads, “one man’s obsessive quest for the foundations of the heart” in the remote Alaskan wilderness.
“We’re trying to appeal to intellectual mavericks,” says Too Far President and Publisher Brian Courtney. He says that as part of a “unique” promotional campaign, the company ran ads in independent papers in places like Missoula and Boulder, Colo., for “road warriors” or “city agents” to hand out advance copies in their communities. Courtney prefers not to disclose how much these warriors are making, but one weekend warrior told us he made $10 per hour distributing 1,700 copies in two days at Belgrade’s Warped music festival and an outdoor festival in Helena.
Occasional Indy contributor Abe Streep hired on through his friend, city agent and recent Middlebury College grad Benjy Adler, who answered the ad he saw in this paper for a “guerilla marketing effort.” Adler was hired in May to work through September (the book’s official release is October 10); he’s distributed books at the Jonny Lang concert in Caras Park, at a jazz/blues fest in Sioux Falls, S.D., in Jackson, Wyo., and was reached by cell phone while handing out copies at the Sweet Pea Festival in Bozeman.
Adler rents a storage facility, reimbursed by Too Far (Streep rented a U-Haul for a weekend’s work), to hold all the books. He says he, along with about 10 others he’s recruited to work with him, have distributed “thousands” so far. He adds that Too Far wants them to target “young dreamers” and “baby boomers who experienced the ’60s first-hand.”
But is the book any good? It’s hard to get an answer. Streep says he thinks Shapero wrote the book when he was younger. Too Far’s website says Shapero founded Too Far publishing after a 30-some-year career in and around Silicon Valley. Young book plus Silicon success? Courtney puts it this way: “We haven’t heard from anyone who said it was a ‘nice’ book.”