June 26, 2022

App helps thousands of book clubs get organized in the digital age

If you’re trying to start a book club, choosing the right medium can be tricky. Email chain, Facebook group or group chat? They are all a bit heavy. For thousands of book clubs, there is one clear winner: Bookclubz.

The free management service helps users with all the pesky logistics of starting and running a book club with a group of book-loving friends. The website has been around since 2015, but the app version just launched on iOS and Android last week. Today, 5,700 clubs use Bookclubz, with nearly 27,000 individual members in total.

Bookclubz’s three co-founders – Anna Ford, Ian Campbell and Nancy Brown – keep the service free with a fundraising page on Patreon and an affiliate partnership with Amazon for books users buy through the app.

It’s a smart tool. If there’s anything that can kill a book club, it’s the inevitable scheduling conflicts and even small-scale drama that can arise among members, and one service that can keep the lines of communication open is the best solution.

He is also on the verge of more success. As 2020 approaches, our media world of endless TV show debuts and hamster-wheel news cycles is increasingly frenetic. Book clubs offer an escape to a more intentional experience. As a result, book clubs are multiplying.

For one thing, the book itself offers a physical, finite form of media that won’t automatically play the next episode or regularly feed you dopamine on social media. On the other hand, the internet’s ability to connect people can help form the real communities that create clubs in the first place.

I spoke with two of Bookclubz’s co-founders, Anna Ford and Nancy Brown, in a joint written interview covering what the app does and how it all started.

How can a book club get started with the app?

It’s very simple! Download the Bookclubz app from the App Store or visit Bookclubz.com to “create your club”. Once your club is created, you can simply and immediately invite all your members to join it. Once your members have signed up through the invite link sent to them via email, you can manage your members and club operations from one place.

Once set up, you can use Bookclubz to manage members, send messages, poll your members to schedule and select books, post meetings, track RSVPs, upload photos and documents, maintain a library of reading your club and get recommendations for your next read!

How does this help them?

Bookclubz is an online management tool for book clubs, “the team app” for Book Club. We know that book clubs bring people together and bring books to life through the exchange of ideas, perspectives and dialogue. Bookclubz helps book clubs get organized, so they can focus on their mission and stay together longer.

A book club is a cherished activity, but many clubs dissolve due to disorganization (Chains are unruly and become awkward if a member leaves, Facebook groups require members to be on Facebook, but many leave. There’s no way to share a story Bookclubz takes care of book club logistics, saves time for club leaders and members, allowing clubs to focus on reading and discussing books. Book club is back on the calendar, for good!

What made you start the app?

In 2015, co-founder Anna Ford’s book club was struggling to organize, attend, and dwindle its membership. With the help of co-founder Ian Campbell, she built Bookclubz as an organizing tool for her club. Hundreds of book clubs have found us, liked the site, and offered suggestions to improve it. We relaunched the site in 2017 based on user feedback. Now, the site serves and connects thousands of book clubs around the world.

Everyone asked for an app, so we built one! Our iOS and Android apps launched earlier this fall. Nancy, a publishing professional with a passion for storytelling, joined the co-founding team of Bookclubz in 2018. Anna and Nancy together run six book clubs, which continually inspire tool design and features of Bookclubz.

What are your plans for the future of the app?

Currently we serve over 5,000 clubs. Over the next two years, we hope to help more than 30,000 clubs in the United States and around the world get organized!

We are continually adding new features and improvements to Bookclubz. Over the coming year, we will be launching calendar integration functionality, social networking capabilities so you can follow other clubs, and an integrated virtual meeting tool for all book clubs on our site that meet by videoconference.