Starbucks And Albom Fight Illiteracy

Starbucks has grown from a Seattle coffee bean retailer to a ubiquitous national chain. It became a force in music, films and now publishing. The company is using its influence to fight illiteracy in what it calls the "Book Break Program."

"We are inviting all our customers to come in our stores to talk about books," Howard Schultz, chairman of Starbucks Coffee Company, told The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen."Given Starbucks is a community gathering place, what better opportunity than to present Mitch (Albom)'s book and talk to our customers and engage in a discussion about the book in a way that is unique to America."

Albom, who wrote the bestsellers "Tuesdays with Morrie" and "The Five People You Meet in Heaven," is featuring his new book, "For One More Day," in the Starbuck's program. It is already No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and Albom has a huge following and doesn't need the extra exposure, but he said he wanted to get involved with the program to get more people to read.

"They said they wanted to start carrying books and they like this book about the guy who wants to spend one more day with someone he loves, his mother. And as an author, you go into Starbucks and sometimes see people on iPods or text messaging," he said. "I would like to see them reading. Weather my book or someone else's. I thought this is a good thing and if they could do something for charity or literacy it would be even better. And I asked them if they would, and they would."

If the "For One More Day" is made into a movie, Albom said he would like to see it star Meryl Streep and Billy Bob Thorton.

Starbucks will contribute $1 per book sold, with a minimum contribution of $50,000, to the literacy program, Jumpstart. Jumpstart is a national program which matches trained adults with pre-school children who need help with reading.

"Over 40 million people are functionally illiterate, many under the age of fifth grade," Shultz said. "Business is not just about making money but giving back. It's a perfect way to launch the book."

Today, Starbucks and Albom hope to have a national book club discussion. Starbucks in the country's 25 largest cities will come together to talk about "For One More Day," and special sections of the store will be set aside for the talk. Albom will call into the stores to talk to readers and answer questions.

"You can see Mitch and all of our people are highly engaged, they know about the book and will talk to our customers," Schultz said. "In the last few weeks, Starbucks has sold so many books, its obvious our customers are into it. What better way to start than with java?"

Read an excerpt of Albom's book here.

For more information, visit Starbucks and Jumpstart.
  • Caitlin Johnson

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