You don’t want to read this “drive-in” book

Some people enjoy writing scathing reviews, but not me. If I find something nifty, I want to share it, but if I find something yucky, I don’t want to give it free publicity. Yet here I am to warn you about an ebook I picked up yesterday: How to Build a Drive-In Theater Business by T K Johnson.

This book reads like Volume 82 of the Build a Business Collection, the name of the entity which holds the copyright. That’s understandable, since Johnson has dozens of pages of “How to Build a (something) Business” listings on Amazon. There are a few generally helpful notes and ideas, but this book contains effectively no specifics for folks who want to start a drive-in as opposed to a convenience store or a butcher shop.

(By the way, pieces of this review appeared in my Amazon review of the book, but this version is much better.)

The drive-in passages are painful to read. Here are the first two sentences under the heading “Negatives”, verbatim: “Drive-in theaters are considered to be one of the best places to hang out with friends back in the 60s until late 80s and early 90s. However as times changed, so did the films and the famous drive-in theaters slowly faded in the background as people embraced the new technology.” You know, before word processors, it was difficult to write sentences that are this mangled, with unmatched tenses and orphaned references.

After the few sections that mention drive-ins, the rest of the book ignores them. In the section “Where to set up your business?” the author recommends running the new business online, but if you must have a brick and mortar location, you’ll need to register your business in that state. All the drive-in theaters I know are definitely brick and mortar.

The most disappointing aspect of this is that there are definitely enough real drive-in startup necessities to fill a book. Chapter topics would include finding a site, rezoning, working with neighbors, utilities, screen construction, parking lot grading, ADA-compliant restrooms, digital projection, movie distributors, and many more. Instead, Johnson’s book is about a business’s legal structure, how to hire good people, and other general topics.

There are a zillion books about how to start a business (many written by T K Johnson), and this is one of them. There are still plenty of good books about drive-ins, but this isn’t one of them. You’ll have a better time if you read one of these instead.

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