Book Clubs are Here to Stay!
by Nora St.Laurent
Are bookstores a thing of the past? Obsolete? I’d never thought of this question before Borders bookstore recently closed hundreds of their stores nationwide. One thing that won’t go away, however, is book clubs. Why? Because book club meetings can be held anywhere. They can meet at a store, a coffee shop, inside houses, museums, libraries, in a park—where there are three or more gathered, you can talk about books. Book clubs can even meet online, in the comfort of your own home. The sky is the limit to where book club meetings can be held.
I’ve read where book clubs have met in museums, a hair salon, a tea house and a church. Some libraries have private rooms that can be reserved for your book club meetings. Some groups meet at restaurants and talk about their books over dinner; several restaurants have private areas. Check to see what your group would like to do.
The first group I joined met at a coffee shop that had a private room off to the side where we held our meetings. It was quiet, rustic and great fun. Not only did we get to talk about books, but it was a ladies night out too.
I run two face-to-face book clubs; one meets inside the Christian bookstore I work at and the other meets at the church I attend. For years now, I have held book club meetings inside the store I work at. Customers check out my website and book club end cap to see what book we are reading. They will usually buy the book in hopes of joining us. On book club meeting nights, I do sell extra books because they see us having so much fun.
One way to help any business you decide to hold a book club meeting at is to ask the managers if they will give you a discount on the books that you purchase for your club. After a few meetings, they will see how this creates a sense of community inside their store. People will see you are giving back to the community and want to join in. It’s also a great way to advertise for your group.
I’ve had more people join our group when we had authors visit or speak to our group via speaker phone—they loved the excitement in hearing from the author. People can hear us discuss the book and then talk to the author about his or her book afterwards. I’ve even had people sit down with us to hear the whole discussion and wait to talk to me after our regular meetings because they enjoyed our laughing and wanted to join. You can gain so much insight into a book and an author during a book club meeting.
That’s one of the things that is fresh every month. Each of the members brings their experience and set of eyes to a book that we’ve read. Hearing members talk about what they loved or what surprised them about a book is always memorable.
Want help in starting a book club? A great resource for you is The Book Club Network (TBCN) www.bookfun.org. It’s a community of book clubs, avid readers and authors. It’s a place where experienced, new book club leaders and wannabe book club leaders get together. Many book clubs have created their book club page and listed the books they’ve read. Some book clubs have actually had their live book club meeting at TBCN and invited the author to join them. The discussion is there for all to read and enjoy, not just the club that has the author there.
It’s also a place for authors and book clubs to list their book events such as book festivals, a guest author, an author book signing and book fairs. Christian events can be listed on the front page of TBCN for free. TBCN will be celebrating their two year birthday in August and will be giving away 10 books a day.
So, what are you waiting for? Begin your book club today! Summer is the perfect time for you to open a book and open a world of possibilities.