Today there’s a new trend aborning: a growing number of spas around the country are serving up book talks and discussions along with deep-tissue massages and facials. That’s right: book clubs and events are springing up at both day and destination spas. According to a New York Times story by Rachel Felder, book discussions are seen as a way to attract new clients and keep regulars coming back.
A series called, “For the Love of Books” is held monthly at the Lake Austin Spa Resort, the Carlyle Hotel’s Sense Spa recently hosted Erica Jong, and Canyon Ranch has launched a series of author events at its flagship spa in Tucson. At some spas, “literary programming” is being featured as an attractive benefit and included in the price of a stay. The spa Bliss (love that name!) has started a “Paging” Happiness Book Club, which will spotlight a new book every few months. The book and a tailored set of products are sold on its Web site.
Not a bad author gig! Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project has a new book out called Happier at Home, which is being spotlighted by the Bliss book club. To promote the book, Gretchen will appears at the spa as one of her speaking events, which also include another nontraditional venue, namely Anthropologie stores.
As spa gatherings surge, publishers are jumping on the bandwagon and building spa stops into authors’ promotional tours (good to know these still exist!) As Leigh Ann Ambrosi of Crown Archetype puts it: “It used to be that there were four different components: radio, television, magazines, and newspapers. Now when you look at the bookings, it’s so drastically different, and kind of anything goes. Everybody’s trying to do new things and establishing new partnerships and cross-promotional opportunities.”
The goal of all this? To turn a spa visit into a social gathering by attracting groups of like-minded readers and turning them into loyal customers. Most spas sell the books being discussed on site and online, which is opening up a whole new promotional channel for authors. Beyond just bringing in new customers, book clubs help spas position themselves more expansively as places devoted to helping people achieve greater happiness and well-being.
All of which is good news for authors — especially those of the “female persuasion.” Now if spas and independent bookstores can just hook up — what a great combo that would be. All of this seems very exciting to me: the more places and ways people bring books into their lives, the better. Write on!