A Different Way to Find Travel Inspiration at the Local Bookstore


Almost everybody we know loves to travel and is looking for inspiration for their next trip. In a lot of ways, it’s almost addict-like. But instead of seeking out the next thrill, we’re seeking out the next destination. This day-and-age of digital marketing and e-commerce leads many of us to search for travel books online—or just search online for the top beach vacations, safari trips, romantic getaways, best European cities, top South American destinations, etc. Still, the local brick-and-mortar book shop can be a great way to find a more deeply personal, if a somewhat random and spontaneous, inspiration for your next trip. As a group of former booksellers, here is what we recommend….


How Local Booksellers

Local booksellers use planograms with “anchor” book titles that create a visual focal point for that section of bookshelf, while also helping shoppers find the most popular selections and, thus, in theory, increase sales. When we reached out to some of our friends who are still in the business, they confirm that some of the best visual merchandising software on the market can make a difference to the bottom-line. You might turn around and say, “I thought that kind of planogram software was only used for big-box bookstores.” To which we say, “Even Barnes and Noble needs the support of local shoppers and book-loving audiences.”

Regardless, the same principles apply to pretty much any local book shop, and while these bookshelf merchandising strategies make sense, they may not help the person looking for something more off the beaten path. What’s more, there’s perhaps nowhere in the bookstore for which this is truer than the travel section.


Plan Around the Planogram

Pardon our punning, but this is how we think of it. If you want to find travel inspiration that will take you somewhere new, somewhere different, some place that everybody is already going to, you need to look around the edges of the travel section. You need to look in places not highlighted by these anchor displays. You need to reach and bend and tilt your head where necessary to see that title or author that speaks to your personal idiosyncrasies. And so, how do you plan around the planogram, as it were? Go to the bookstore in comfortable, flexible clothes that will allow to get on the floor or climb a ladder. Bring a small blanket or towel if you don’t like the idea of getting on the ground or if it’s going to aggravate your knees. Don’t be afraid to use the ladder, if one’s provided and you feel safe doing so. For the tallest bookshelves, we’ve even seen customers use their GoPro device to take pictures of the top shelves. That way, they don’t strain their necks while trying to read all the titles.


Avoid Top Ten List Syndrome

What’s the value in avoiding the planogram anchor books? Aren’t they popular for a reason? Sure, that’s why the planogram works, but as a somewhat or very experienced traveler, you’re not looking for the most popular ideas and destinations. We like to think of it as avoiding Top Ten List Syndrome. Top ten beaches, safaris, honeymoons, European cities, etc. We know we’re not the only people who hate top ten lists.

Online articles with click-bait titles get clicked on, but they don’t always deliver the goods for the brainstorming travel lover. One of our favorite travel ideas is to find an off-the-beaten-path book title that reveals an interesting travel destination that you can reliably find and reach on your own, even though it may not be marked as special to anybody but a select few. Film scenes from favorite movies that were shot on destination is one method for accomplishing this, but it can be done with books, too, both fiction and nonfiction. So, go visit your local bookstore and find a different kind of travel inspiration.

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