The swanky Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan may be a hot spot for publishing power lunches, but Alix Strauss, whose new novel, Based Upon Availability (Harper), takes place there, could help make it—or at least, others like it—a regular hangout for authors and readers, as well. Since Strauss's novel was released on June 8, she has been doing readings at luxury hotels around New York. So far, Trump SoHo, the Surrey on the Upper East Side, and Fashion 26 in Chelsea have all hosted her—and she has events lined up at the Liberty Hotel in Boston and Ink48, the new Kimpton Hotel in New York, in Hell's Kitchen.
Strauss did a more conventional author tour for her first book, The Joy of Funerals (St. Martin's, 2003). Although getting on a plane to visit bookstores in 26 cities may no longer be the norm for midlist authors, Strauss, a travel writer well acquainted with luxury hotels, said she still wanted to connect with readers for Availability, which received a starred review from PW. "I believe in finding venues that are in keeping with the theme of one's work," she said.
The readings that have taken place so far have drawn hotel guests and locals. At Trump SoHo, Strauss read in the library; at Boston's Liberty, she'll read in the hotel's 2,200-sq.-ft. luxury Ebersol Suite. The hotels have ordered books and sold copies at the events.
So far, Ink48 has taken the most interest in Strauss's offer. The hotel has organized a four-night series later this month, in which Strauss will read a different section of her book every night. Guests will receive complimentary wine and cheese, and can enter to win a stay at the hotel's Hudson River Suite.
Deborah McCluskey, Ink48's general manager, said she purchased 40 copies of Availability to sell at the events, although she said the series is "not really about making money—it's to offer a different experience to our guests." Ink48 occupies an old printing factory, and its restaurant is called Print. "I thought it was the perfect fit," she said of Strauss's hotel tour.
For now, though, Strauss won't be reading at the Four Seasons. She did send the hotel a copy of her book, but says she has not heard back.