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Saturday, March 15, 2014

How About Dinner Books?


Okay, I’m officially 85 years old, though I just turned 47 recently. I went to a local dinner theater, where I enjoyed a good steak and a show, Ragtime. But as I watched the theatrical production of a play, based on a successful movie, based on an award-winning novel by New Yorker, E.L. Doctorow, it occurred to me that we should have dinner books.

If we can eat and watch a play, why not eat and read a book or eat and discuss a book? I think I’m on to something.

Such an event promotes the reading and discussion of books. It creates an element of socialization. And it can be a profitable new way to experience the printed word. Dinner books would need a host or moderator, creating a university-meets-Outback experience. Part book club, part theater – it could work.

Reading is a solo experience. You don’t need anyone else to read a book, you can do it anywhere, anytime, and you can reread it. But when you take the private experience of reading and make it a public event, the words take on a new meaning.

The draft house approach to movie theaters is catching on, where you can get drinks and food while watching a movie. I can see someone creating the food-book experience.

What could take place at these gatherings? People could agree to read a book in advance of the gathering, except for the last 30 pages. They would come and eat and read the end and then discuss the book in a moderated forum. Opinions can be shared. In-depth analysis can be exchanged. The book can propel a deeper, thought-provoking dialogue on the issues raised in the book.

Think of an Oprah-like hostess, good food, great book, and dozens or hundreds of smart-minded patrons ready to bring your book to life with a lively discussion.

Any drawbacks?

·         Will people keep the conversation stimulating and civil?
·         Will people want to eat out with strangers to discuss a book?
·         Can a price be created that’s high enough to turn a profit but low enough to get attendees?
·         Theater is about professionals entertaining us. Will people pay so they can be the “actor?”

“Dinner books” is exactly what we need to reinvigorate the industry. We need public places to gather book lovers and to position books as entertaining, informative, inspiring, and enlightening. Why should movies, plays, or sporting events get all the attention when it’s books that really bring society together?

The next time you go out to eat dinner, imagine the entire room filled with book-lovers exchanging intellectually-stimulating ideas. It could be a wonderful, profitable, and industry-saving experience.

Make it happen.


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014.

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