Seattle might be a high-tech city, but its latest tourism campaign is decidedly analog. Visit Seattle is celebrating the city's literary history and hoping to attract more tourists with tiny libraries scattered across the country.
Little Free Library is a national "take a book, return a book" free book exchange program, and Visit Seattle and Publicis Seattle are taking the concept on the road, installing Little Free Library stations in Boston, Chicago and Austin, Texas, to encourage people to travel to Seattle.
The tiny libraries, which are launching in celebration of National Literacy Month, are Seattle themed on the outside—they're shaped like ferries or kayaks—and contain Seattle-themed books that people are welcome to take: travel guides and nonfiction, as well as novels that take place in Seattle or were written by Seattle natives. Crews will be restocking the libraries over the course of this month. Each book includes a Visit Seattle-branded bookmark, and people are encouraged to post selfies with their favorite books using the hashtag #SeattleStory.
"Seattle is celebrated as one of the most literate cities in the U.S., and it doesn't hurt that we have Amazon in our backyard," said Ali Daniels, vp of marketing at Visit Seattle. "When it comes to planning travel, it's turned into a digital battle for people's attention, but the little libraries are something people can engage with on their own. It's not a street team member running after you with a pack of gum—you can walk up and discover them. It's helping bring Seattle into people's worlds in unexpected ways, and hopefully it'll inspire more visits."
Added Britt Fero, chief strategy and media officer at Publicis Seattle: "Seattle's known for being a high-tech city, and this is a low-fi way of letting people know what the city is all about. It's a unique way for a destination to talk about why people should go to that city and what makes it special, not just what to do there. It tells a deeper story."