Monday, May 14, 2007

Join the Club!

This weekend I was thrilled to receive an invitation to be the guest author for an online book club, my very first!

So I got to thinking about the growing trend in book discussion groups both online and in real life.
I did some digging and found an article by Josh Gettlin in yesterday's L.A. Times Calendar Live.
He tells us that even as book reviews in our newspapers shrink, reviews online via online blogs are growing. And club memberships are exploding.
So are various media outlets for authors.
Here's a snippet from his article:

"We keep hearing there was a golden age of books 30 years ago, when Gore Vidal would appear on Johnny Carson and they'd talk about books for half an hour," said Ron Hogan, who runs Beatrice, a literary blog, and, a website for book industry news. "But look at what we have available to us today. We're going to have Cormac McCarthy appearing on Oprah Winfrey. We have an entire cable channel [C-SPAN II] that provides 48 hours of weekend coverage of nonfiction books. We have authors appearing on Comedy Central shows like 'The Daily Show' and 'The Colbert Report.' You have thousands of people attending book festivals across the nation. There's a huge amount of book-related information out there."

According to the article, book club membership numbers are estimated at 5 million.
Five million!
"There's been a large growth in the numbers of these clubs," said Barbara Drummond Mead, who along with her husband, Charles, runs Readers Group Choices, an organization that dispenses advice about book selections and publishing news to book club members across the nation. "The numbers took off when Oprah Winfrey began focusing on authors in 1999. And now we've done studies showing that the average member of a book club buys up to 40 books a year."

So what do we do about this good news?
John Shors author of "Beneath A Marble Sky," a romantic novel about the building of the Taj Mahal, had received decent reviews but his sales were not impressive. He placed an invitation to book clubs in the back of the paperback release. He included his e mail address and a statement that he would make himself available to bookclubs. According to a November, 2006 article, this strategy drove his sales from waning and mediocre to about 1000 books a week. At the time of the article, he was getting 5-6 bookclub requests a day. And he's still at it. With a movie deal AND a "bestselling" moniker.

Any more clubs out there? I'm available.


Keith Raffel said...

Thank goodness for book clubs. To my surprise, I'm regularly invited. Now if we could just figure out a way to get men to join them, readership would double.

Susan Goodwill said...

That's great, Keith.
I am excited to get involved in the clubs. You have a good point about needing more men in the clubs, though.
Maybe we should start a male golfers' bookclub?
We could call it the Golf Club.
Or maybe one with a sports focus: The Sports Book??
I seem to know a lot of men who would be interested in that...

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I also love book clubs and have been a guest at several here in So. Cal. Earlier this year we came across a mailing list for bookclubs all over the nation, Canada and even Australia and sent out bookmarks to them all.

1,000 books a week, huh? I've got work to do!

Orla said...

Well written article.