Books in the office, books in the bedroom, books in the TV room, books in the kitchen -- I admit I am one! A bibliophile, that is, and when I read of Larry Portzline’s new release, I couldn’t resist picking it up. Bookstore Tourism: The Book Addict’s Guide to Planning & Promoting Bookstore Road Trips for Bibliophiles & Other Bookshop Junkies combines two great passions, books and travel, in an effort to help save independent bookstores./p>
Not that there’s anything wrong with mega-chain bookstores, but as the author notes in the foreword, indie bookshops offer "a diverse selection of books personally chosen by the owner; individualized customer service; a knowledgeable staff; community involvement; and homegrown events and marketing efforts." It’s the literary equivalent of choosing slow food versus fast food. According to Portzline, "when you walk into an independent bookstore, you don’t always find what you’re looking for, but you often find something you didn’t even know you wanted."
So where does the tourism angle fit in? Hearing a colleague’s discussion of leading restaurant tours, Portzline suggested that bookstore trips might be a nice alternative. With three immediately sold out tours and a waiting list, Portzline admits he "was on to something." But rather than turn "bookstore tourism" into a personal money-making entity, he is promoting it as a grassroots campaign to aid struggling indie bookstores. And that’s what Bookstore Tourism is all about -- getting booklovers involved in supporting independent bookstores.
In a nutshell, the book introduces and defines the concept of "bookstore tourism," provides a bookselling industry primer for the uninitiated; breaks down the how-to’s of organizing a trip; lists great towns for bookstore tourists (from Hay-on-Wye in Wales to Greenwich Village, New York City); and follows up with an appendix of National and Regional Booksellers Associations, U.S. Literary & Book Festivals and a list of relevant books and websites.
Indie bookstores offer a sense of community, Portzline adds in summary. A unique community because "they’re not cookie-cutter clones of one another, they’re about freedom of expression, give readers more choices, offering a different perspective." Whether you’d like to organize a tour of your own or just learn a little more about the plight of indie stores, this book is invaluable.