Thursday, September 5, 2013

Can Books Be A Tourist Attraction?

On a recent vacation I paid to enjoy a number of tourist attractions. I noticed a common denominator amongst them:

1.  They were overpriced. 
2.   They had layered pricing or combo deals depending on the level of experience desired.
      3.  They would nickel and dime you on the extra amenities, such as food, parking or lockers.

Why must the consumer be hosed?

I went to Canada’s Wonderland, an amusement park in Toronto and was hit with outrageous fees. A foot-long hot dog was $8. Funnel cake was $12. After getting wet on the handful of water rides you could pay $5 to have a machine blow dry you. Meanwhile, the entrance fees were high and lines for each ride were long. Of course my family enjoyed the experience but the cost of such activities is getting steeper and steeper.

At Niagara Falls we spent around $50 per person to do a 25-minute boat ride and a few minor activities. It would have cost me more but I out-screwed them by saying my five and a half-year-old was three and getting her in for free. We didn’t buy the $30 souvenir photo that cost them less than a dollar to produce.

The CN Tower in Toronto was no different. The tallest structure in North America, save for a restaurant and just a handful of office spaces, exists only to suck in tourists. The 1800+ foot structure offers great views, 1140 feet above the ground at $32 a pop. For an extra $12 you’ll get a view that’s 300 feet higher. How much extra to have a bird shit on you?

Of course, to get to the tower I had to pay for a parking lot space. I got "lucky" paying $20 for an unmanned garage. Most spots were $30 and $35.

I know it does no good to complain about the prices they charge, especially when I pay them. But it’s not right that consumes get screwed. Sure they have costs and sure they want to earn a profit but why does it have to be crazy money? Why can’t one be capitalistic, but also fair?

But all of this overcharging got me thinking. Could book publishers or authors set up an attraction that they could charge for?

I think I would just set up an empty room in the dark and call the attraction “Surprise.” I’d charge $20 for it. People can talk about how they went into this scary room and survived it. Let their imagination run wild. They would be encouraged to then do it again -- with the lights on to see what they missed.

Authors struggle to make a few bucks off their brain sweat but tourist attraction owners rake in the big bucks. It doesn’t seem quite fair.

What kind of attraction would you create? What would you charge?

Can a bookstore be a tourist attraction? Maybe when it starts to charge admission fees or extra money for readers to get a photo of them reading a book will stores become the place to go to.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

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