MORE STORES ARE BOOKING AUTHORS AS DRAWING CARDS

NEW YORK — More retailers have been bitten by the literary bug.
Now it’s Benetton that’s weighing in with a series of readings at its flagship at 597 Fifth Avenue here, beginning Wednesday with David Sedaris, the author of “Naked,” at 6 p.m.
On the following day, Mary Louise Wilson, who plays Diana Vreeland in “Full Gallop!,” will be signing copies of “D.V.,” the Vreeland autobiography, at Loehmann’s at 101 Seventh Avenue here.
Wilson, who wrote the introduction to the new edition of “D.V.,” will appear in Loehmann’s Back Room, where high-end designer labels are sold.
The current bookish trend began at Barneys New York, where Harold Evans, president and publisher of Random House, moderates breakfasts with speakers such as Erica Jong, Wendy Wasserstein and John Gregory Dunne.
Carlo Tunioli, director of Benetton’s U.S. operations, said the impetus to stage a literary salon came from the flagship’s building, which for 83 years housed the legendary Charles Scribner’s Sons offices and bookstore. Readings take place in Benetton’s cafe on the lower level, where there is also a small Rizzoli bookstore.
Besides Sedaris, Benetton has lined up an eclectic list of authors, including Jennifer Toth, who will read April 28, Pete Hamill (May 19) and Daphne Merkin (June 12).
“It definitely enhances the image of the store,” Tunioli said. “Maybe in the long term, it will help sales.”

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