Travels With Larry

Posted: July 5, 2007 in Uncategorized


Larry Portzline’s packing up his minivan to go on a trip next spring. That wouldn’t exactly be breaking news in most cases, but in this case it is. Larry’s going to undertake a nationwide indie bookshop tour, visiting every state in the union (including Alaska and Hawaii, mind).


Because he believes in the spirit of independent bookshops, that’s why! He’ll be blogging his adventures, posting and podcasting along the way.

The kick-off will happen on April 1, 2008, April Fool’s Day, if you’re keeping track.

And here’s his plan:

• I’m going to plan as much of the trip as possible ahead of time, but I’m going to leave plenty of room for serendipity.

• I’m going to do the trip solo in my ’99 Dodge Caravan — the light blue “soccer mom mobile” — and pray that it holds up.

• I’ve going to leave April 1st, 2008. April Fool’s Day seems appropriate. (I was originally thinking about Sept. 1 of this year, but it’s too soon. I have to teach this fall and earn some money. Plus if I wait till spring I can try to drum up some sponsorship in the meantime.)

• I’m going to try to do the trip in 10 weeks.

• I’ll visit 200 bookstores in all 50 states.

• I’m going to select the vast majority of bookstores before I go — some that I’ve visited before, many that I’ve heard about — but I’ll try to visit others that catch my attention as I travel.

• I’ll visit 2-6 bookstores per state, for an average of 4 each.

• I’ll try to average 5 states and 20 bookstores per week.

• I’ll let the bookstores know a couple of days in advance approximately when I’ll be there.

• I’m doing this not just as an activist on behalf of indie bookstores but as a journalist. There’s a great story to tell here, not just about my own adventure but about locally owned bookshops across the U.S., their successes and their struggles.

• At each store I’ll interview the owners, workers and customers.

• I’ll ask one primary question: “Why do indie bookstores matter?”

• I’ll take my new Apple iPhone, my MacBook Pro and a digital video camera. (Are you reading this, Steve Jobs? Sponsorship opportunity here! Like he needs the publicity.)

• I’ll take lots of pictures.

• I’ll post to this blog and do podcasts.

• I’ll post video updates.

• I won’t plan any in-store “events” ahead of time, but if opportunities arise and the stores want to do something, I’m open to it.

• I’ll call the local media a couple of days before I get into town.

• I’ll get media coverage where I can and do as many interviews as possible.

• I’ll pick up donations (cash and Visa gift cards?) and sponsorship (Apple?) along the way to help offset the cost of the trip. (The price of fuel alone is going to be a killer, not to mention all the Diet Pepsi I’ll be guzzling. Another sponsorship opportunity?)

• I’ll accept donations on the blog via credit card or PayPal.

• I’ll stay in people’s homes where I can, motels when I can, and in the van when I have to.

• I’ll try to get someone to sponsor my travel for the Hawaii and Alaska legs of the trip.

• The title of the book — and possible documentary — that I plan to get out of the trip will be “Why Indie Bookstores Matter.”

• The main purpose of all this, of course, is to raise awareness of indie bookstores, to promote reading and literacy, and to bring together people who share a love of books and the written word!

Watch for me in your town this fall!

— Larry

I’ll be watching, Larry! Best of luck to you.

You can visit Larry, and catch up on the latest info on his progress, on his blog Why Indie Bookstores Matter.


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