Grassroots 'Bookstore Tourism' Effort Continues to Grow as National Organization Launches

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The creator of the grassroots Bookstore Tourism movement, Larry Portzline, will lead a panel on the effort at BookExpo America, the premiere book industry event in the U.S., in Washington, DC on Saturday, May 20. Joining him will be representatives of the American Booksellers Association, the Southern California Booksellers Association and the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, who will offer their expertise and discuss their experiences with the rapidly growing trend.

The creator of the grassroots Bookstore Tourism movement, Larry Portzline, will lead a panel on the effort at BookExpo America, the premiere book industry event in the U.S., in Washington, DC on Saturday, May 20. Joining him will be representatives of the American Booksellers Association, the Southern California Booksellers Association and the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, who will offer their expertise and discuss their experiences with the rapidly growing trend.

Portzline will also lead another "Greenwich Village Bookstore Tour" to New York City on Saturday, May 13. His day-long bus trips have become the model for Bookstore Tourism, which promotes independent bookstores as a group travel destination and supports reading and literacy efforts. A writer in Harrisburg, PA, Portzline began leading the tours in 2003 while teaching at a local college. Since then the Bookstore Tourism movement has received national media attention and attracted other groups who have followed Portzline's lead. Most notably, the Southern California Booksellers Association has offered several wildly successful "I Feel the Need to Read" tours in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas. These day-trips include stops at several independent bookstores, as well as author events and book-signings to round out the literary experience. (SCBA will sponsor a "beach towns" bookstore trip in August.)

"Bookstore Tourism is an excellent example of niche travel, which has become a phenomenal growth sector in the tourist trade, not just here in the U.S. but around the world," Portzline said. "Many vacationers and day-trippers like to include cultural activities in their travels, and for booklovers, nothing is more enjoyable than visiting a unique, interesting and fun independent bookstore in another city or town."

He added that other literary attractions such as an author's home or the setting of a novel are excellent additions to any bookstore trip. One example is a tour he offered in the Brandywine Region of Southeastern Pennsylvania last fall, which included stops at two independent bookstores, a talk and book-signing with bestselling author Lisa Scottoline ("Killer Blonde," "Devil's Corner"), and a visit to the home of Nobel Prize-winning author Pearl S. Buck.

"There are infinite variations on the basic 'bookstore road trip' theme, and I'm glad to see groups around the country taking ownership of the idea and running with it," Portzline said. "I always say it doesn't matter if it's 50 people on a chartered bus or five friends in a mini-van."

To boost the effort, Portzline is launching the National Council on Bookstore Tourism, a nonprofit association that will partner with the book industry, the travel industry, libraries, schools, state and local tourism bureaus, economic development groups and other organizations around the country to promote the concept.

Bookstore Tourism -- as well as Portzline's how-to guide of the same name -- have received high praise from Publishers Weekly, USA Today, the Boston Globe, the London Guardian and numerous other publications. In a recent cover story, the National Association of College Stores noted that "Besides the obvious possibility for sales increases, Bookstore Tourism can help raise an institution's overall profile and promote higher education in general." (Portzline's group trips have included the bookstores of New York University in Manhattan and Georgetown University in Washington, DC.)

Portzline recently served for the second consecutive year on the jury for Publishers Weekly's Bookseller of the Year Award. A writer for the Pennsylvania Senate, he serves on the Advisory Board of Penn State University's Center for the Book and on the selection committee of South Central Pennsylvania's One Book, One Community Program.

Visit http://www.bookstoretourism.com. Media inquiries are welcome.

CONTACT: Larry Portzline, (717) 541-0710 or info AT bookstoretourism DOT com.

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