"Bookstore Tourism" Founder Launching Nonprofit Organization to Support National Grassroots Effort

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Larry Portzline, the founder of the grassroots "bookstore tourism" effort, announced today that he is creating a nonprofit organization to promote the concept: the National Council on Bookstore Tourism.

Larry Portzline, the founder of the grassroots "bookstore tourism" effort, announced today that he is creating a nonprofit organization to promote the concept: the National Council on Bookstore Tourism (NCBT).

The organization's goal will be to raise the visibility of independent bookstores by promoting them as a group travel niche. A writer and college instructor in Harrisburg, PA, Portzline has been leading day-long bus excursions to bookshops in New York City and Washington, DC since 2003. His sold-out "bookstore road trips" have become the model for other bibliophiles around the U.S., most notably the Southern California Booksellers Association (http://www.scbabooks.org), which has led literary adventures of its own for booklovers in Los Angeles and San Diego. Portzline launched a website -- http://www.bookstoretourism.com -- and wrote a popular how-to book to encourage others to follow suit: "Bookstore Tourism: The Book Addict's Guide to Planning & Promoting Bookstore Road Trips for Bibliophiles & Other Bookshop Junkies" ($10, Bookshop Junkie Press).

"The idea has turned into a grassroots movement, so we're taking it to the next level and creating a national organization to support it," Portzline said. "There's tremendous interest from a lot of folks, so the NCBT will coordinate the effort and provide assistance for those who want to start bookstore tourism programs in their own communities." He said the organization will develop partnerships with the bookselling and travel industries, libraries, educators, publishers, cultural tourism organizations, and economic development agencies at the national, state and local levels.

Portzline said the NCBT will be a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and will seek grants and donations from a variety of sources. It will offer several levels of membership and services, including marketing and promotional assistance, consulting, partnership building, industry updates, newsletters, e-news and more.

Portzline is currently forming the organization's board of directors, which will serve primarily as a steering committee for the first year. Thus far, the board's membership includes Jennifer Bigelow, executive director of the Southern California Booksellers Association; Cindy Dach, marketing and events coordinator for Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, AZ; George Eberhart of the American Library Association; Kevin McFadden of the Virginia Festival of the Book; Donna Paz, president of Paz and Associates in Jacksonville, FL; and Len Vlahos of the American Booksellers Association. Additional board members will be announced. Portzline will serve as board chairman and executive director.

"This has been a one-man operation for the past three years, so it's great to have support and guidance from some amazing people who represent various interests in the literary community," Portzline said. "We're going to start slowly, get some funding and build the organization."

He noted that in addition to promoting travel to independent bookstores, the NCBT's goals will be to: support reading and literacy efforts; provide organizations of all sizes (including libraries, schools, reading groups, nonprofits, etc.) with outreach opportunities; encourage economic development and downtown revitalization; raise awareness about locally owned and operated businesses; and promote cultural and heritage tourism.

"The growth of cultural tourism in the U.S. over the past decade has been phenomenal," Portzline said. "More people are traveling for specific cultural purposes than ever before, and booklovers can certainly tap into that."

Portzline added that the potential economic development benefits of bookstore tourism are very evident: "Communities around the country are always seeking new and exciting ways to attract out-of-towners to come and spend money, use their services, etc., and bookstore tourism is an excellent way to accomplish that. For cities and towns with a nice selection of independent bookshops or other literary sites such as an author's home, bookstore tourism can be a fantastic economic generator. Imagine busloads of booklovers from other towns pulling up in front of your community's bookstores, restaurants and other establishments every weekend. Multiply that by all the towns around the country with great indie bookstores, and this could be the next big thing in the book industry."

The NCBT's official launch date is January 1, 2006, Portzline said.

Media inquiries are welcome.

CONTACT: Larry Portzline, 717-541-0710

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