When Dr Alan Blackman’s new book If I Only Had a Heart, A History of the Gold Coast and its Economy was published last year, it triggered lively discussions up and down the M1 about the evolving relationship between the Gold Coast and Brisbane.

Dr Blackman, a senior lecturer at Griffith University’s Department of International Business and Asian Studies, questioned the Gold Coast’s standalone future, suggesting it likely to become part of a Brisbane ‘megatropolis’ stretching from the Sunshine Coast to the NSW border.

On Thursday (February 20) the Co-Op Bookshop will host a book signing session for If I Only Had a Heart with Dr Blackman on hand from 12pm.

Dr Alan Blackman first started to research the Gold Coast economy during the 1990s on a Gold Coast council project on small business, and has kept a constant and close watch on developments since.

His book traces the history of the Gold Coast back to its settlement inception in the 1820s and argues that the region has since become a subsidiary of Brisbane.

He believes the Gold Coast economy is today vulnerable to the peaks and troughs associated with the development and tourism industry it is renowned for, and the region struggles to maintain a distinct identity that can be called the Gold Coast.

“It lacks a cultural heart as much as a business heart,” he says.

In his book he writes: “Failure to diversify the city’s industrial base will lead ultimately to the Gold Coast becoming Brisbane’s poor southern leg.

“But avoiding such an outcome can be achieved, if only we have the heart.

“Unlike other significant cities in Australia, (the Gold Coast) remains under-recognised politically, socially, economically and culturally,”

Thursday’s book signing takes place at the Co-Op Bookshop, Shop 3, 1 Hospital Boulevard, Gold Coast University Hospital, starting at 12pm.