BEYOND THE GIDEONS BIBLE BY LAURA JOSEPH MOGIL
orgot to bring your book with you while on vacation or on a business trip and have nothing to read? That won’t happen if you’re staying at a luxury hotel where Stamford resident and self-proclaimed “book-ie” Jane Ubell-Meyer has provided Bedside Reading. The program offers newly released books to hotels so that guests have best sellers waiting for them in their rooms and can even take them home. And the best part is that, unlike the minibar, it’s totally free. Ubell-Meyer works with a team of avid readers to pick out the perfect books, which are then approved by the hotels. Books come from an array of publishing companies, including HarperCollins, Macmillan, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Penguin Random House, along with a variety of independent publishers, authors and speakers’ bureaus. “Our goal is to pass on books that we resonate with and love,” Ubell-Meyer says. “The roots of Bedside Reading date back to 2002 when I placed ‘Buzz Bags’ full of free books and products on the Hampton Jitney,” she adds. The gifting program, created by her company Madison & Mulholland, got huge attention and was featured in articles that appeared in such major publications as The New York Times and Entrepreneur magazine. Soon afterward, Ubell-Meyer got a call from United Airlines to do its luxury gift bags for first- and business-class passengers, and she also was hired to create swag bags for the Grammy Awards and other special celebrity events for Hollywood’s film, music and TV nominees and winners. While she was busy at her job, Ubell-Meyer says she decided last March to go back to the one thing that she had always loved, which was “books and reading. “I had been doing the tote bags in the Hamptons for years, which quickly evolved from being placed on the jitney to being offered in hotel rooms. This time around I decided to place my focus on the books. “If you’ve published a book, you want it read in the Hamptons — by the beach and at the pool — and you want people to talk about it. So why not go to
Some of Bedside Reading's offerings.
the hotels, where people from all around Manhattan are coming for the summer to stay?” Last Labor Day, when she did her last Hamptons’ “Buzz Bag,” Ubell-Meyer realized there was an increased demand by the publishers she worked with to distribute their books, so she decided to take her program to a national level. She first called up the Mandarin Oriental in Manhattan and asked if she could launch Bedside Reading at the hotel. Having worked with Ubell-Meyer before on other projects, the Mandarin was more than happy to oblige. Her first books offered there were The New York Times’ best sellers “The Golden House” by Salman Rushdie and “Tell Me More: Stories About
the 12 Hardest Things I'm Learning to Say” by Kelly Corrigan. The books were such a huge success that the hotel could hardly keep enough on hand to pass on to their guests. Ubell-Meyers’ business quickly expanded and she was soon offering Beside Reading at hotels across the country, from the Acqualina Resort & Spa in Sunny Isles Beach just north of Miami to the Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C., and, in California, at Shutters on the Beach and Casa del Mar in Santa Monica as well as the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills. Each month new books are placed in all of the participating hotels’ rooms and suites. “Every ho-