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On the Good Ship Reading and Writing

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Over the weekend, the New York Times’ Amy Cortese looked at literary-themed cruises, a trend that’s bubbled in the background for several years now but hasn’t quite hit mainstream waters yet. Often sponsored by publishers, the cruises, aboard commercial liners, feature popular authors who give readings and seminars – even knitting lessons – to boatfuls of book lovers. The advantages are obvious, considering that the average cruise ship customer reads a lot and is older and female, which dovetails perfectly with many niches like romance, health & fitness, and thrillers.

“It’s become increasingly difficult to create and build a book and make it successful,” says Keith Fox, president of McGraw-Hill Professional, the division of the McGraw-Hill Companies that published Lynette Khalfani‘s financial advice book, THE MONEY COACH’S GUIDE TO YOUR FIRST MILLION. Literary cruises, he said, are “an opportunity for us to get our authors in front of a demographic that loves books.” And authors say the environment makes for a special experience. “You get to connect with people in a way that you never would at a bookshop, said Khalfani. “I had people stopping me in the bathroom, in the spa. I probably gave another three or four minisessions just sitting around talking shop.”

Figures are still hard to come by to determine direct correlation between cruises and sales, but book distributor Levy Home Entertainment, which organizes the Authors at Sea events, aren’t complaining. “These are not just readers; these are power readers that can really drive trends in the book business,” says John Lindsay, a vice president at Levy. Which is why Levy’s cruises are booked solid through 2008…

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