Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Read A Book!

The 30 Second Skinny The Church of Scientology raises funds within its members in order to send books out to libraries. These books are likely bought for retail price, meaning a portion of the funds raised is paid to the Religious Technology Centre. Also it seems unclear whether the books genuinely go out, and if they do, that they reach the shelves of public libraries. Most public libraries seem not to own copies of Hubbard's work, despite the campaign being heralded as a success.

Grahame over at My Scientology Blog recently posted on the subject of the cost of Scientology books. Along with denying that it is important for Scientologists to own all of the Basics (the high pressure sales tactics say otherwise) he employed the canard that people don't even have to buy the books to find out about Scientology. Sidestepping the issue of being out-tech on the doctrine of exchange for a moment, let's address the reality here. Walk into your nearest public library and try and find copies of Scientology texts. I'll wait for you to get back.


Well - were there any? No? So why does Grahame and other loyal Scientologists believe that they are there? Because Scientologists have been paying for them. The Church of Scientology organise something called the International Library Donation Campaign, a fundraising effort intent on putting Hubbard tech onto shelves in every library in the world. Here's some text gleaned from a booklet, Infuse the World with Source, quoted over at Why We Protest.

"'ve got to put the books in the local library. You've got to do these things or nobody believes you're there. Because they go and ask to be told by the shelf before they're told by a human being." - L. Ron Hubbard

[our goal is to get] the LRH Basics books into every single library on planet Earth and to bring the Golden Age of Knowledge to millions of new public.


THE LETTER: In-depth research was conducted into libraries across the world and top library professionals were consulted to determine what exactly should be contained in a letter to the librarian to ensure that the books are placed directly on the shelves.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT CARD: This card allows the librarian to give full feedback on the donation once recieved...THE INVOICE: A custom invoice is sent with each shipment clearly labeled "No Charge Shipping Invoice" so the librarian sees it is a donation. It also shows them right on the invoice under which Dewey Decimal code our books should be placed.

THE BOX & LABEL: The box and label have been custom designed so that the books arrive in perfect condition and go straight to the correct terminal within the library who will ensure the books are put onto the shelves.

Note that the goal is not to send books to libraries, but to get books on library shelves. Anonymous612 goes on to quote completion figures from the booklet.

Enronanonron quotes Scientology News' figures on the completion numbers for this program:

Africa: 12%
Australia, New Zealand and Oceania: 18%
Canada 55%
Europe: 19%
Latin America: 22%
United Kingdom: 22%
USA: 100%

But it is clear that these figures only relate to books being sent out, not to books ending up on shelves. As it turns out, libraries don't put any old thing on their shelfspace, and often shelfspace itself is at a premium. It's pretty straightforward market principles. In order for libraries to survive, they need to lend or hold books that people actually want to read. If they do not feel that their customers will be interested in reading The Basics then, free or not, The Basics will not go onto the shelves. There's a parallel here with secondhand bookshops. Pretty much the only secondhand bookshops that carry Hubbard texts are those online, because bricks and mortar shops have less storage space, and that copy of Dianetics will displace someone's cast off copy of the Da Vinci Code.

Here's a video from Mr Fyde looking at the paucity of Hubbard in public libraries.

And here's some figures to show how effective the donation program has been. It's interesting to note that the few libraries carrying many books seem to be in areas where there are larger orgs. The donation program is designed, according to the Hubbard quote above, to get the message out there, but it seems that the books presence in libraries are only sustainable where there already exists Scientologists. The libraries, like Miscavige, are selling to base!

So if the books aren't getting to the shelves, then where are they going?

They arrive and get unpacked...

...and then they are thrown out, sold on, or destroyed. EBay regularly carries shrinkwrapped Basics editions going for a song, and often sold to curiosity-seeking Anons, or people who just don't want them falling into the hands of more vulnerable people.

But, you might argue, so what? CoS can't very well force these libraries to put the books on the shelves, at least they are doing what they say they are doing and sending them out.

But here's the thing. CoS is in denial over the poor success rate of the program. We have people like Grahame blissfully unaware of how few libraries carry even one book, let alone the complete set of Basics. But this is an ongoing program; either CoS simply do not check to see how well the program is doing, or they are totally aware that the books aren't getting onto the shelves. Either way, they continue to take Scientologists' money.

Occasionally you will see something that really crystalises something for you. A few weeks back I was heading through Piccadily Circus tube station. At the top of the steps stood a girl handing out the business-card-sized fliers that CoS put out to promote their capacity test. She was handing them out to people as they went into the station. I refused one (I rarely take fliers from anyone at all) and when I got to the bottom of the steps saw, scattered across the tiles, dozens and dozens of the same business card. There, in metaphor, is the Church of Scientology marketing strategy; throwing bits of information to the wind and hoping for the best.

There are also some serious questions to be asked about the drive in the first place. CoS is raising money to buy books, so at what price are the books being purchased at? Cost price? Why do I doubt that? It's much more likely that the books are being sold to the program at list price, meaning that Bridge is getting their full money, and RTC are taking their cut too. The Library Program exists primarily to allow CoS to sell books to its followers more than once, with the added benefit that the followers don't even need to see the books; the perfect con. A company sets up a charity drive with which to line their own pockets.

The nastiest part of the con, for me, is the use the idea that these books are available in public libraries is put to. Firstly, it suggests to the loyal Scientologist that although he has paid a fair amount of money on books over the years, it wasn't as though he needed to, because he could have used library copies; it was his choice to buy the books. This provides armour against the accusations that CoS is just profiteering. Secondly, it helps to convince the Scientologist that Scientology is on it way to being, or has already become, a mainstream religion. The pipedream of walking into any public library in the world and gaining access to Hubbard's writings is incredibly potent to the true believer. It suggests that the Earth is on its way. Intentional or not, the Library Program is yet another control.

But here's the foot bullet. It's the easiest of all the CoS lies to scupper. Any Scientologist can walk into any library, or search any online library catalogue, and check this out for him- or herself. Heck, it even sounds in tech - don't take my word for it, don't "believe", find out for yourself; know what you have observed yourself! This particular piece of CoS BS has even been the final straw for some. Paul Schofield (no relation) sites it as ending his involvement with CoS once and for all.

I left a comment for Grahame providing the bare bones of the above. I doubt it'll get published; I doubt I'll get an answer. Either way I sincerely hope he reads it.


  1. Hi There! Nice to see the research me & Mr Fyde did spread to this fine blog! but the google doc with the full stats we gathered got flagged down and your link is broken, here's a new one for the same info:


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