BOOKSTORE TOURISM


Bookstore Tourism Logo © 2005 Larry Portzline

Bookstore Tourism Logo
© 2005 Larry Portzline

My goal for Bookstore Tourism has always been, simply:

To support independent bookstores by promoting them as a group travel destination.

Although I haven't been actively involved with it for a while, I still think it has a lot of promise as a group travel niche and marketing tool for the bookselling and travel industries.

I first began leading "bookstore road trips" to New York City in 2003. I'd load 50 people on a chartered bus in Harrisburg, PA, and we'd spend the day visiting the 20 or so indie bookshops in and around Greenwich Village. Later, I also led literary jaunts to Washington, DC and the Brandywine Valley. To say that these sold-out excursions were popular would be putting it lightly. Everyone spent so much money and carried home so many books, it boggles the mind.

Larry Portzline, the creator of the Bookstore Tourism movement.

Larry Portzline, the creator of the Bookstore Tourism movement.

At first the Bookstore Tourism idea was merely for fun, but it gradually turned into a mission when I saw how many indie booksellers around the country were struggling to compete with large bookstore chains, online retailers and the rise of the e-book. I wanted to remind readers everywhere how important it is to support their local indies if they don't want them fading into oblivion.

These bus trips seemed like a great way to do that, so I started encouraging other folks to plan bookstore tours of their own. I promoted the concept with a website, a blog, podcasts, and even a how-to book called Bookstore Tourism: The Book Addict's Guide to Planning & Promoting Bookstore Road Trips for Bibliophiles & Other Bookshop Junkies. (You can read a free PDF file of the book here.)

Bookstore Tourism eventually grew into a grassroots effort in various locations around the U.S. It was never huge, but there was a nice ripple of interest and support. A lot of folks recognized the concept's potential as a group travel niche and marketing tool, especially the American Booksellers Association, various regional booksellers associations and a few other groups that considered ways to collaborate and capitalize on the trend. In particular, the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association offered several bookstore tours in and around Los Angeles and San Diego. (Check out the video of their "Beach Towns Bookstore Tour" in the archives below.)

Speaking at the front of the bus while flying down the highway at 75 mph backwards. Never an easy task.

Speaking at the front of the bus while flying down the highway at 75 mph backwards. Never an easy task.

Some folks continue to do literary road trips here and there, but changes in the industry have certainly taken a toll. I think Bookstore Tourism could rise again, though. It offers nothing but benefits: to the organizations that sponsor them, to the bookselling and travel industries, to literacy and reading efforts, and on and on.

Like I told a reporter once: "If they can load people onto a bus and take them to outlet malls for the day, why can't they do the same with indie bookstores?"

Stay tuned.

~ Larry Portzline

 


THE BOOK

 
Click to read free PDF!

Click to read free PDF!

 

WHAT PEOPLE SAID

  • "A charming alternative." -- USA Today
  • "The beginning of a new concept in bookselling." -- Publishers Weekly
  • "Larry Portzline has taken a novel idea on the road." -- Boston Globe
  • "Just the thing to get people not only reading again but visiting their local independents." -- Chicago Tribune
  • "It's good to know the bibliophile bus is still trucking on through Pennsylvania." -- The Guardian (U.K.)
  • "Buses and Bookstore Tourism: a heavenly marriage?" -- United Motorcoach Association
  • "What a neat idea you came up with!" -- Nancy Pearl, creator of the "One Book, One City" movement and author of Book Lust
  • "Imagine the bus business bonanza in this one." -- Trailways Traveler
  • "An inviting concept." -- Women's Lifestyle
  • "Bookstore Tourism explains how to combine travel and the love of literature to support independent bookstores around the world." -- Orlando Sentinel
  • "Here's a travel trend we can get behind." -- WorldHum.com
  • "Bookstore Tourism opens a new travel niche." -- Newport (Oregon) News-Times
  • "In a world where shopping malls are bona fide tourist attractions, here's an alternative." -- Tucson Citizen
  • "Portzline has found a tremendous market in the printed word -- and book-lovers." -- Destinations Magazine
  • "Bookstore Tourism promotes reading, supports independent booksellers." -- National Council of Teachers of English
     

Bookstore Tourism Video

Here's a two-part video of a "Greenwich Village Bookstore Adventure" that I led and a "Beach Towns" bookstore tour in the Los Angeles area sponsored by the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association: 
 


Oh yeah, and here's me singing "Wild Thing" with Dave Barry, Stephen King, Scott Turow, Amy Tan, Frank McCourt and the rest of the Rock Bottom Remainders at Webster Hall in New York on June 1, 2007:
 


Bookstore Tourism Pics

Some of our bookstore tourists get ready to scatter after arriving on lower Fifth Avenue in New York.

Some of our bookstore tourists get ready to scatter after arriving on lower Fifth Avenue in New York.

Checking out at Baldwin's Book Barn in West Chester, PA during a Brandywine Valley literary trip.

Checking out at Baldwin's Book Barn in West Chester, PA during a Brandywine Valley literary trip.

Kathy "Gidget" Kohner speaks to a group over lunch at Diesel, A Bookstore in Malibu, CA during a "beach towns" bookstore tour sponsored by SCIBA.

Kathy "Gidget" Kohner speaks to a group over lunch at Diesel, A Bookstore in Malibu, CA during a "beach towns" bookstore tour sponsored by SCIBA.

Dave Barry and me at BookExpo 2006 in New York.

Dave Barry and me at BookExpo 2006 in New York.

Bestseller Lisa Scottoline talks to our group at Chester County Books in West Chester, PA.

Bestseller Lisa Scottoline talks to our group at Chester County Books in West Chester, PA.

Enjoying dinner after a Greenwich Village Bookstore Adventure

Enjoying dinner after a Greenwich Village Bookstore Adventure

Maggie Griffin, left, of Partners & Crime, talks with one of our gang.

Maggie Griffin, left, of Partners & Crime, talks with one of our gang.

Checking out at Shakespeare & Co. in the Village

Checking out at Shakespeare & Co. in the Village

Boarding the bus for a Washington, DC trip that included bookstores in Georgetown and Dupont Circle.

Boarding the bus for a Washington, DC trip that included bookstores in Georgetown and Dupont Circle.

Malachy McCourt and I swap stories at New York is Book Country event.

Malachy McCourt and I swap stories at New York is Book Country event.

Three Lives & Company, Greenwich Village

Three Lives & Company, Greenwich Village

Some of our Bookstore Tourists at Twelfth Street Books in the Village

Some of our Bookstore Tourists at Twelfth Street Books in the Village

A favorite of everyone who visits: Housing Works Used Books Cafe in New York

A favorite of everyone who visits: Housing Works Used Books Cafe in New York


A Selection of BOOKSTORE TOURISM ARTICLES


Our happy Bookstore Tourists on the way home from NYC!

Our happy Bookstore Tourists on the way home from NYC!