Miners Landing Press: Reenvisioning Seattle’s Waterfront, One Book at a Time

Kyle Griffith, vice president of the family company that owns Pier 57 in Seattle, wanted to add value to one of the waterfront’s most popular attractions. The company already sold photos taken of guests riding the Seattle Great Wheel. Visitors could purchase photos with a stylized paper frame or in a plastic souvenir frame with cut-out orcas. But Kyle wanted something different—something truly special. He kept coming back to the idea of a book, though he knew nothing about publishing. But how do you incorporate a keepsake photo into a book?

When Kyle approached Girl Friday with his conundrum, we put our collective heads together. We came up with the idea of creating a custom children’s book around the Great Wheel with a die-cut (or window) in the front cover that would allow the keepsake photo to be incorporated into the story. We also created a second version of the book with a standard cover for those who just wanted to buy the book as a souvenir or gift.

The Great Wheel Adventure turned out to be ideal for families traveling with small children and grandparents craving a tangible memory. All in one, the book provided kids’ entertainment—allowing parents to enjoy their beer and crab at the Griffith waterfront restaurants—a family memory, a quality souvenir, and a delightful way to promote the Great Wheel to all the folks back home. 

One million people ride the Great Wheel every year, and 10 percent of those people buy a photo. If even 1 percent of riders buy a book-and-photo combo, the book has reached ten thousand people. 

Since the publication of The Great Wheel Adventure and the birth of its smiling brother-and-sister protagonists, Betty and Gabe (named for Kyle’s black Labs), Miners Landing has become a bona fide publisher with three titles under its belt. Each title promotes key elements of the Pier 57 experience, which combines a carnival-like atmosphere with education about the Pacific Northwest and historical and cultural Seattle. 

Wings Over Washington is a luxe coffee-table book filled with beautiful images of Washington State. It complements the Wings Over Washington flight experience, which allows riders the chance to soar over the Pacific Northwest in five minutes. 

The Great Gold Rush Adventure features the antics of an adventurous boy named Walter who meets old-time miner Hal and sets off to the Yukon. Both fantastic story and fun marketing tool, the book allowed Miners Landing to parlay a bit of Seattle history into company folklore: the current pier is just adjacent to the 1897 landing site of the SS Portland, fresh from the Yukon and laden with gold that ignited gold rush fever and put the town on the map. 

Thrilled by the results of the first three titles, Kyle is currently working with Girl Friday on another children’s adventure book featuring the photo-friendly die-cut on the front cover for Wings Over Washington fans. The only hitch now is waiting to name Miners Landing’s newest protagonist (who may be christened after the soon-to-be-arriving youngest Griffith!). Miners Landing is also finding new ways to promote their titles, with a new store promoting special offerings, including all three current books, and other on-pier purchasing opportunities. All three books are also available through Amazon. 

Not every company needs or wants to engage in a full-scale publishing program like Miners Landing did, but every company must distinguish itself from its peers (no pun intended). A custom book can help extend or enrich the story of an organization, promote a company beyond its usual market segment, or provide clients a new (and fun!) way to interact with the brand. In the Griffiths’ case, it’s all three.