Monday, February 2, 2009

Concept: One-Day Bookstore Tour

When I discovered the suggestion by Joseph Trenn, proprietor of The Book Shed in Benson, Vermont, of a One-Day Vermont Bookstore Tour, I was fascinated with its powerful simplicity. Unlike the elaborate Bookstore Tourism, developed and promulgated by Larry Portzline, the One-Day concept described by Trenn on his website hit home for me.

Bookstore Tourism Made Simple
Here was a way to accomplish much of what Portzline was seeking, without the necessity of the elaborate planning, recruiting, organizing and execution surrounding his Bookstore Tourism operation. Trenn simply listed four nearby bookstores along the back roads of central Vermont – and presto – you had a custom, one-day bookstore tour. It was suitable for you to do it by yourself, or with a friend, or your family – or your church choir if you wanted to rent a bus. But, it was simple, direct and low-cost.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the whole Bookstore Tourism concept as promoted by its inventor, Larry Portzline, which encouraged tourists to join together – often on a rented bus – to “tour” destination bookstores. Portzline led groups on tours in various parts of the country and other organizations took up the challenge to promote visits to interesting and exciting independent bookstores. Unfortunately, the movement, which began about five years ago, has fallen on hard times as Portzline has removed himself as the champion of the concept. But, in various places around the country, there continue to be enthusiasts organizing trips in the spirit of bookstore tourism as originally envisioned by Portzline.

One-Day Bookstore Tours
In keeping the spirit of Bookstore Tourism alive, I believe that Joseph Trenn’s suggestion of spending a day roving from one bookstore to the next is fantastic. In my book, A Vacationer’s Guide to Rural New England Bookstores, I have outlined several One-Day Bookstore Tours in New England for my readers to consider. Of course, I include The Book Shed in Benson and the bookstores nearby in Poultney, Whiting and Rochester, VT. I also describe tours in other regions of New England that might tempt you to take a day trip or to devote one of your vacation days to bookstore touring.

Recently, I was in Mystic, CT and after visiting at Bank Square Books it was easy to include The Book Barn in Niantic and Harbor Books in Old Saybrook before I drove home. Whoops! I just made a bookstore tour in about three hours. (Bought a lot of books too, including two at Harbor Books for one dollar a piece.)

Destination Bookstores
I didn’t invent the one-day bookstore tour; that credit belongs to Joseph Trenn. But, I believe that my list of one-day bookstore tours to "destination bookstores" could contribute to a fine day’s outing for you and some small help to the independent bookstores of New England struggling to compete in the age of the super box-store and digital online bookstore world. Make a day of it and make a statement.