I was in Scottsdale, Arizona attending a marketing event recently. We were staying at the Doubletree Resort, a pretty nice hotel with a lovely little gift shop.
Wandering in after one of our all-day sessions, I was curious to see what kind of books they were selling. Hotels and resorts are great for selling books about the local area.
Since Scottsdale is a pretty popular tourist destination, there were lots of books about local attractions, Indian lore, and guides to hikes and camping in the area.
But the biggest selection was cookbooks.
Books like these are mementoes we take back to remember the trip, the great time we had at a restaurant there, a souvenir of happy times.
You can see the lineup of “Arizona” cookbooks, tortilla cookbooks, Mexican cookbooks. Check out Arizona Cookbook, prominently displayed. It’s got a rustic sign on the cover that advertises “Indian, Mexican, Western, Arizona Products, Backbacking—Camping, Patio—Barbecue.” And it’s spiral bound, so it lays flat on your counter.
You might not think cookbooks like this sell well, but they do. Think about how many tourist shops, restaurants, hotels and resorts there are in Arizona, and how many people vacation there.
But here’s the real magic: This book has been in print since 1974, unchanged. That’s the year Nixon resigned at the height of the Watergate scandal. Think about it, 37 years on sale, a true evergreen. In 1974 dollars they might have paid $75 or $100 for that cover design. Looks like a bargain now, doesn’t it, since they are getting paid today in 2011 dollars.
Here’s another: Simply Simpatico: The Home of Authentic Southwestern Cuisine. This one is also comb-bound. It has a gold seal proclaiming that it’s in the Walter G. McIlhenny Cookbook Hall of Fame, a book award of no small achievement. The McIlhenny family is the owner and sole producer of Tabasco sauce.
This book was the product of the Junior League of Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was originally published in 1981 and has been on sale since. That’s 30 years of sales for this non-profit organization.
The power of long-tail publishing is very evident in locally-themed books, and self-publishers ought to be aware of these kinds of long-range opportunities. It’s another reason why it really does pay to create the very best book you can.