Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Oh no.

I've just been informed by a fellow Brooklyn litblogger -- and have since confirmed with the man himself -- that Larry Portzline has decided to quit the bookstore tourism business.

Don't try to find his noted Bookstore Tourism blog -- it's not there anymore. In fact, Larry's taken down all of his related sites. Here's an article about his project in the New York Sun if you're curious.

Larry was trying to raise funds for a nationwide indie bookstore tour -- he had lined up media, made a massive itinerary of indie bookstores across the country, and had appealed to the ABA and the regional associations and other organizations in publishing to help fund the tour.

Apparently, not enough folks stepped up.

After five years of appearing at trade shows, running Bookstore Tourism buses in New York and California, writing a book, and enjoying the approval of the indie community.... Larry found that no one wanted to put their money behind his project.

I'm disappointed, and a little ashamed of us.* Making bookstores a destination is one of the ways that independent bookstores can remain vital and viable. It sucks that no one believes that enough to fund it.

You'll probably be hearing more from me on this. In the meantime, what do you think?

* And honestly, I'm also surprised: I was at the NAIBA fall board meeting when this came up, and while the bylaws don't allow me to tell you about the conversation, the decision was made to make a donation to the tour, though not as much as had initially been requested. My impression then was that other regionals were donating as well. Maybe that didn't come through, or maybe it just wasn't enough.

11 comments:

Karen Lillis said...

This is really sad to hear. I thought Larry had a great idea going. I do think that indie bookstores are kind of getting the shaft in the internet age. Small presses and libraries used to be more reliant on indie bookstores to move the free press along--bookstores were integral in the support system. But it seems that people don't appreciate bookstores as "curators" as much, since they've got Amazon or Library Thing readers to tell them what they think. I'd like to hope there's room for both.//
In some good news, my local university--University of Pittsburgh--is picking up on Larry's idea. A class (within U. Pitt) at the Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning will be taking seniors around to area independent bookstores, about 2 per class.// A big thank you to Larry for his efforts.

Stubbs said...

Thanks for picking up on this story. Larry really poured his heart into this and I think the tour could have brought so much attention to indie bookstores in a way no other marketing effort could.

Alas. Perhaps someone will pick up on the tour idea and do something with it... I hope more universities do things like the Pittsburgh initiative.

lady t said...

I've been reading and hearing about Larry's Bookstore tourism for a couple of years now,and it's a great idea but,in my opinion,he ran into a brick wall here because some independent book folks are rather conservative when it comes to shelling out the bucks to advance a bold new idea.

Perhaps Larry will find another way or someone else will take up the gauntlet he has thrown down. Ten to one,if that happens,the best bet for funding may be in the private sector.

Kel said...

Glad you went public with this. I have known for a few days and was not exactly sure how to raise awareness about this sad news. Larry's vision is wonderful, and it's a shame that it has come to this. Maybe your post can start a discussion that would bring about a change in direction.

Kelly Amabile

P. J. Grath said...

Here's an adventure opening for an independently wealthy, retired couple. I'd take it on myself if I weren't a struggling bookseller!

sonjica said...

Such a shame.. humm, also too bad Larry shut down all of his websites.. He should've said something on the whole matter.. he shouldn't give up

Lisa Guidarini said...

Oh, GACK!!! I'm really shocked by this, and saddened. I was looking forward to taking the trip vicariously with Larry. Total bummer, dude.

Bluestalking Reader

Ariel said...

That is sad but I think of it as more of an example of people not wanting to part with money in general. I think everyone has had a moment where they were like, "Yeah it's a great idea. I hope they get enough funding," when we ourselves could have contributed. I don't know why that is.

Anonymous said...

Booksellers whine about low sales, publicists whine about not being able to market books, editors whine that no one reads anymore - and every single one ignores the bright idea right in front of them.

I am so disappointed with the ABA and publishing as a whole. And I just got the bill for my dues yesterday. I don't really feel like paying it anymore.

Barking Dog Books said...

I'm disappointed with Larry's decision but I can understand the frustration with the lack of support. We did donate to his bookstore bus trip, but most small businesses, like the bookstore we own, don't have a lot of advertising bucks to spread around. We organized a small bookstore bus trip this autumn which was met with enthusiasm not only by the participants but by our local tourism office which saw this as an opportunity to attract visitors to our small town. I suspect that Larry might have had more success in getting donations by appealing to the tourist bureaus and the Main Street programs for support. Those organizations are looking for any ideas they can use to promote their small businesses.

kookaburra said...

Very disappointing. Why can't one rich person--just one--forego a bazillion-dollar tchtochke & invest in independent bookstores instead? It'd be so easy. Ah, gee.