If you are a baby boomer, sitting around the card table with your friends, the question will almost always come up as you reminisce about your childhood. “Do you remember where you were when it happened”? Of course the question refers to the assassination of our 35th president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
While other memories fade, no one forgets the answer to this question, even younger people who may think of it as ancient history. It was a defining moment in US history.
The world paused in 2013 to remember this infamous event. The epicenter of events connected with this 50th anniversary was the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, TX.
In a normal year, nearly 400,000 people visit the Sixth Floor Museum. For the anniversary year, visitor counts were expected to double, and museum officials believed that guests would want a keepsake to help them remember their museum visit and the details of what happened there in 1963.
The museum was already talking with Donning Company Publishers about a souvenir book, so the upcoming anniversary seemed like perfect timing to make it happen.
Donning Souvenir Books
Donning is the nation’s premier publisher of souvenir books for museums and other historic sites that are open to the public and want their visitors to have something to remember them by.
In its early years, Donning focused on pictorial histories for cities and counties and would visit the local museum to learn the important historical people and events of the region.
As Ed Williams, Donning’s National Sales Manager, recounts, “We began to realize that museums sold books about their particular person, event or place of interest, but they almost never had a book about the site itself. You know—a souvenir—something better than a snow globe.”
That was the beginning. Now, museums are well aware of the souvenir book concept because their visitors are asking for them. Donning has published souvenir books for well-known museums and historic sites such as The National Scouting Museum, the Henry Ford Museum and National World War I Museum. Even small, regional museums, such as the Depot Museum in Henderson, Texas, are getting in on the act.
While the book created for the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza was originally meant to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, it has become the default souvenir, and the gift shop has sold more than 15,000 copies each year.
The book is valuable to the museum because it:
- Commemorates the anniversary
- Documents history
- Educates the community
- Provides a high-end souvenir for the visitors
- Generates revenue
The book is the number-one selling item in the gift shop. Well, that’s not exactly true—the gold, foil covered, chocolate Kennedy 50-cent piece is the real number-one seller.
The book, however, is the number-one profit-creating item.