Contrary to what a lot of people were thinking back when e-readers first came out, the popularity of printed books has actually been growing. Despite the saturation of social media the global book publishing industry is expected to increase by 10 billion dollars to 123 billion by 2020 and here’s a pretty interesting statistic from 2016 for you: “according to a statement released by the American Association of Publishers, paperback book sales grew 8.8 percent during the first six months of 2016 while sales of electronic books plummeted by 20 percent in the first half of 2016.”
What does this mean though and how does it relate to boutique luxury hotels in the Caribbean?
Well, among other things it means that people are seeking ways to disconnect and that you, the beautiful, relaxing resort that you are here in the Caribbean should be helping this along by providing a carefully curated library for your guests.
But wait! There’s more. Who are these readers and are they potential guests of yours?
Probably. If you look at information from the Pew Research Center adult readers tend to be affluent white (don’t yell at us – here are the stats!) college graduates who are under 50 years of age.
Library at Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa in Grand Cayman
Curated libraries serve more purposes than just helping guests to relax.
Branding. I used the word ‘curate’ earlier and I meant it. Your library should not be a free-for-all. A lot of hotels have a shelf or two with books that guests have left behind but should they be there? Have you read those novels? Does Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill (whose main topic is bondage and sadomasochism) belong on a shelf at a family-focused resort? Would any of your staff know what lies behind the deceptively innocent cover and vague summary? Maybe… but maybe not.
Books can help or hurt your branding. The best hotel library I’ve seen was at the Komaneka in Bali. Their curated collection of books included a mix of photography, children’s books, art histories, political tomes, literary fiction, and more but each and every book in there enhanced and expanded the guest experience because it related to Bali, regional flora and fauna, local artists (that were also showcased throughout the hotel), or Indonesia as a whole. Plus, they had many titles available in the different languages reflecting their geographic markets: English, Indonesian, Korean, Japanese, and Mandarin.
Your library collection should do the same. The sophistication and thoughtful curation of a resort library helps to solidify the class of hotel that you are.
Komaneka at Bisma, Bali hotel library
Interior Design. A library at your hotel can also serve design purposes. In fact, no matter what reason you choose to curate your resort library for, it should look good and fit the aesthetic of your brand. Whether it’s the shelves themselves, or books displayed by spine color instead of topic, books stacked horizontally in some areas and vertically in others, or the addition of art and other unique conversation pieces to your shelves, there is a thoughtfulness that should go into designing and organizing your bookshelves and their contents. Some book covers are works of art in and of themselves and should be shown off accordingly.
The Wine Library and Terrace at Six Senses Douro Valley
A Feeling of Home. Based on some of the stats mentioned in the first few paragraphs of this article you can assume that many of your guests have personal libraries at home whether it’s a few books by the bedside or an entire room devoted to them. When a reader walks into a lobby or a hotel suite with books they’ll immediately feel more comfortable with the familiar. Books create a sense of warmth, welcome, and place; a sense of coming home and that’s what we want all of our guests to feel like, right? That our resort is their home away from home that they’ll return to over and over again.
Lead image from the Ultraviolet Library at Carlisle Bay in Antigua.