...Distribute books, as many as possible. If anyone hears something philosophy from us, that will help him. But if he purchases one book that may turn his life. So selling books is the best preaching activity. Sell books, hold the kirtana in public places like schools and colleges, preach—if you practice these things, and try to improve them more and more simply by your practicing sincerely, that simple program will please Krishna the most and you will see that very soon.
~Srila Prabhupada- Letter to Sudama -- Bombay 25 November, 1972
Srila Prabhupada Initiates Book Distribution
With powerful determination, Srila Prabhupada acted on his guru's ideas for printing and distributing books. Before departing for America in 1965, with little financial support he began translating and publishing the Srimad-Bhagavatam, a monumental work about God and His devotees. He carried a trunkload of the first three volumes with him as he crossed the Atlantic on an ocean freighter to America. Alone in his early days in the West, he was not shy about selling the three-volume set to anyone who showed genuine interest.
In 1972, the Macmillan Company published Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is. It received acclaim from scholars at many leading universities and quickly gained popularity. It can now be read in over one hundred languages.
Soon after, Krishna: The Supreme Personality of Godhead was printed in Tokyo. Known in ISKCON as "the Krishna book," it is Prabhupada's summary study of the Tenth Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, which describes Krishna's activities on this planet fifty centuries ago. When Prabhupada was presented the first carton of the Krishna book, one book was missing—the disciple delivering the books from Japan had sold one to a businessman on the plane.
“Ah, this is very auspicious," Prabhupada said. "The first book has already been distributed.”
He told his disciples to sell the rest of the books, not even keeping one for himself.