A college instructor shares his plan to help independent bookstores survive: shopping trips specially designed for–and marketed to–tourist readers.
Portzline conceived the idea for bookstore tourism after hearing a fellow community college instructor explain restaurant adventures he led in New York City. Wanting to own a bookstore himself, Portzline figured he could learn about the business by leading tourists on buying trips, beef up the bottom lines of independent retailers, earn money for himself and encourage reading. As of last August, Portzline had organized and led six bookstore tourism groups–five to Greenwich Village in New York City and one to the Georgetown and Dupont Circle neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. Portzline’s whim eventually evolved into a self-styled grassroots campaign–he launched a Web site (BookstoreTourism.com), actively sought media attention and penned his thin guide to organizing journeys to independent retailers. The handy how-to section covers many common questions: Do you have to be some kind of expert to do this?; Who should consider planning a bookstore road trip?; What’s the main purpose of your trip?; Will it cost anything to get started?; Who are you inviting?; How will you handle reservations?; Where do you want to go?; How long do you want the trip to be?; What day will you go?; etc. Even for those who don’t take action with groups of their own, Portzline’s guide is engaging reading because of the specific independent stores he mentions. They’re not necessarily the most famous bookstores in the nation, nor does Portzline attempt to provide a comprehensive list. But each retailer has its own story to tell, and most will hold the interest of any book enthusiast.
A slim but invigorating guide to an appealing and promising concept.