Authors in Vega$

By Midge Raymond,

  Filed under: On Writing

As we all know, author readings and book signings aren’t just for bookstores anymore. And an article in today’s New York Times shows that for some popular authors, casinos have become the new bookstores.

I’m not at all surprised by this … I had never been to the “old Vegas” of $19 hotel rooms, $5 buffets, and not much else to do but gamble (and engage in other activities that inspired the saying “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”). But the newly polished Vegas has a lot more to offer. You can still find cheap hotels and good deals off the Strip — but it’s also very easy to forgo gambling in favor of fine dining, fine drinking, shopping, shows, and now … book readings and signings.

From Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in the east to Mandalay Bay in the west, casinos are welcoming authors. The article points out that publishers see these venues as a better fit for popular writers than literary writers (Robin Cook, Augusten Burroughs, and Erica Jong are among the writers to speak at casinos this year) — but judging by the crowds a casino can draw (the Times reports that mystery writer Janet Evanovich sold 1,125 copies of her new book at Foxwoods, setting a record for sales of a single title in one day), I’m guessing that publishers and writers will begin to open their minds to it.

I, for one, would love to see a little culture in the casinos. And it sounds as if many writers are already embracing the idea. Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean, among other books, told the Times that she didn’t have a problem with her appearance at Mandalay Bay, even if she did have to read over the sound of slot machines. More important, she sold books.

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