From Shelf Awareness:

The Star Tribune reported that the Twin Cities Literary Punch Card will be launched September 14. The premise is simple: "Attend a literary event, get a punch. Buy a book at an event, get a second punch. Fill your card—12 punches—get a prize, a $15 gift card to use at any participating bookstore."

The catalyst for this idea was the sometimes anemic attendance figures in an area that is "awash in literary events almost every day of every week of every month—readings, signings, book clubs, launch parties. So the folks from Milkweed, Graywolf Press, Coffee House Press, Rain Taxi Review of Books and the Loft Literary Center got together to figure out how to attract larger crowds," the Star Tribune wrote.

"This isn't to draw crowds away from other events," said Ethan Rutherford of Milkweed Editions. "But we were seeing some of these smaller, independent events without a whole lot of marketing money behind them. An author coming through on tour who doesn't have a lot of friends here or marketing oomph behind him might read to, say, four people. So we're just trying to help spotlight events that might be sort of overlooked."

I still get a little sad when I think about how sparse attendance was at Sam Lipsyte's Powell's reading last year. Part of the problem is with readings themselves, of course: It's hard to know in advance if an author is going to be hilarious and charming (like Lipsyte) or dry and unengaging (like... oh, some people). But Portland has quite a few publishers, bookstores, and reading series; I like the idea of a program that explicitly acknowledges how the health of all these organizations are linked. I nominate Portland Reading Local to make it happen. (Have you checked out their redesigned site recently, BTW? It is a very, very good resource, full of interviews, news, event listings, and more.)