While on a recent vacation (and a reprieve from negative wind chills) to Key West, Florida, I noticed how the whole town kind of works together to suck tourists dry of all available funds. The tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants, and stores may compete with one another, but they also collaborate in many respects. It kind of reminds me of the book industry.
Key West, a very cool island that boasts of being the southernmost point in the United States – just 90 miles from Cuba – makes the most of its limited space. It has something for everyone – a nightlife of bars to get stone drunk; great restaurants catering mostly to a seafood diet; historical places to visit like The Shipwreck Museum, The Train Museum; Hemingway’s House, and Truman’s Mini White House; water-based activities, including:jet skis, scuba diving, snorkeling, parasailing, speed-boating, dolphin-swimming, and wave-runners; and natural sightseeing on the beaches or walks through an architecturally-unique homes lining the overcrowded town.
The book industry, like a neighborhood, offers something for everyone. It provides books in multiple forms – different-sized printed books, e-books, audio books, and vooks. It features books on everything in existence known to humanity – and it provides books on countless fantasies and make-believe worlds. Books can inspire, entertain, inform, and educate any person or any age, size, class, sex, ethnicity, nationality, or state of mind or body.
What if we combined the two – and formed a tourist town of books: Key West Campus. Catchy name, right? Think about it. There must be some economically-challenged town in America that needs something to save it - and at the same time – it can save publishing. Ok, let’s call it Book Town.
I can see it now – the town would be neatly divided into genres. Each genre sector would feature stores, restaurants, and fun activities that support the theme of the books in the designated genre. The streets can be named after famous authors or books. People could even arrange for whole blocks to match a certain time period or sub-genre.
But would all of this be too manufactured, too conveniently fitted and manicured like some Disney Resort? We need things a little dirty, messy, and natural. We like old, even dilapidated, buildings and things. We enjoy history and like the idea of eating at a 75-year-old restaurant, sleeping in a 200-year-old inn, or walking the streets once walked by centuries of important people. I don’t think we could just build an instant Book Town like one builds an Epcot. But we could, revitalize a neighborhood like Detroit, with an already interesting history steeped in cars, music, and race riots. Or do we go for a warm-weather place so we can ensure visitors year-round. When some family members need a break from Book Heaven, they can down scrumptious food at an outdoor restaurant, take a swim at a beach, or jump out of an airplane (with a parachute made out of recycled books).
When you walk an Ivy League campus you may feel you’re in Book Town. Same for when walking the halls of certain museums, libraries, or bookstores – or the streets of New York City. There doesn’t exist a Book Town, but for the one in my mind.
We live in a Catch-22 world where we couldn’t get people to rally around the creation of Book Town unless it already existed. But it shouldn’t take a ton of arm-twisting to see that Book Town would not only serve the patrons well, but would be a profitable place to visit, one that you can come to over and over and feel assured of getting a new experience.
I long for Key West in the days following my return to cold weather. In fact, two days after returning from a trip that included an 80-degree day, I felt -14 degree temperature at night while on a ski trip in The Berkshires.
Book Town could be the place where dreamers come to live, where writers grow inspired, where readers get to engage like-minded fans. It could be a place where the synergy takes over and book-loving knowledge-seekers and question-raisers gather to seek community and shared love.
Plan your next vacation to Book Town. If you discover where it is, let me know.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015
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