When I was twenty-two years old, I was spending my summer weekends on Fire Island, (a trendy vacation spot for New Yorkers—more shabby than chic). It was fun in the sun with parties and gourmet dinners on the beach. Even more perfect, I started dating an “older” man. I was simply crazy about him. One afternoon he said to me, “Jane, if you learn how to scuba dive, I will take you to the Caribbean.” So, of course, I jumped into the pool at the NYC YWCA and earned my scuba certification. As December rolled around, we planned a serious scuba-diving/romantic seven-day vacation in the Caribbean. I was in heaven until…we landed in St. Maarten. Upon arrival at the hotel, right before we entered the room, “the boyfriend” informed me that he just “wanted to be friends.” He no longer had any romantic interest in me.
Imagine being stuck on a gorgeous Caribbean Island with someone who had just broken your heart. I was miserable and lonely. However, the only thing that saved my trip was a last-minute decision to take a 553-page book with me: Anne Rice’s book, Cry to Heaven. This book saved my vacation! I devoured it night after night, barely coming up for air for any reason!
Lesson learned. Protect your sanity with a great book. I always took a book along with me whenever and wherever I traveled. A book was my constant companion on planes, trains, subways, and even elevators!
Years later, during a mid-life career change, (I had been a TV and movie producer for two decades, including with Good Morning America, Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Tonight, and other shows; plus I had produced three movies), I realized books and travel were two constant passions of mine. Life Lesson #1: Find your passion and hopefully it solves a problem.
In 2017, when bookstores were unfortunately in decline, I understood that traveling without a great book in hand did not help the traveler who was already at their destination. I knew that pairing curated books with luxury hotels was something that could resonate with travelers. But how could it help the authors? Life Lesson #2: Solve the problem.
I decided to launch Bedside Reading®, an amenity program designed for luxury & boutique hotels. Our company provides books that are placed by the bedsides in the rooms of our hotel partners. Hotels include Ritz-Carlton, Waldorf Astoria, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Conrad New York Midtown, and The Pierre New York, among many others.
Problems Solved: Hotel guests need great books, and authors need a new and ever-expanding fan-base.
Then five years later, another problem: Covid!
In 2020 when the pandemic hit the US, hotels were closing down and/or eliminating all products and paper goods from hotel rooms. Our problem: Hotels were shutting down, and our books needed a new home, or new way to find an audience.
Problem Solved: The pandemic offered Bedside Reading an opportunity to re-design and re-think the needs of hotel guests. After beta-testing our program for a year, we launched a new “green, sustainable digital amenity,” On the Download. This new program offers a digital, green solution. We offer eBooks, audiobooks, podcasts, and meditations to guests 24/7/365, via a QR code, wherever the guest is, on- or offsite. This additionally offered an inexpensive way for authors to promote their books. Out of the pandemic rose a new business! Our Bedside Reading On the Download program is now in over 40 hotels and recently launched in our first international hotels, in Greece and Vancouver, BC. Plus, we added Bedside Reading Magazine, which we offer to customers at indie-bookstores throughout the Hamptons all summer long, and of course it’s sent to Hollywood producers. Our next magazine is both in print and online beginning May 23, 2023.
Book marketing is ever evolving and very personal (to me at least).
Join and apply here: BedsideReading.com/Apply
Bedside Reading, Founder, Jane Ubell-Meyer