June 26, 2022

Book clubs bring a book boom? – Corporate Press

When historians write textbooks about the decade from 2010, I bet they’ll forget to mention the explosion in popularity of book clubs. But in the literary world, it’s about as important a development as the emergence of e-books.

Marj Charlier (Photo courtesy of Ben Miller)

Today, it is estimated that there are more than 5 million book club members in the United States, with many clubs having more than 10 members and most of them including only women. Every writer I know is eager to grab the attention of those readers.

As book clubs have become more popular, they’ve taken on new iterations: today, there are internet-only book clubs, like the one run by review site Goodreads, and books that focus on a particular genre, such as romance or fantasy. There are library book clubs and municipal book clubs. There are clubs that identify with a particular political party, African American book clubs, and book clubs that focus on books about motherhood.

There are franchised book clubs, including the Girly Book Club, which invites single female readers to cultivate a new group of friends by branching off from its brand clubs. Libraries that subscribe to OverDrive automatically become part of that company’s global e-book club, Big Library Read, which three times a year allows readers to view an unlimited number of books for a limited time each year, according to American Libraries Magazine. OverDrive also supports community and regional book clubs like “One Book, One City”.

And, of course, there are book clubs started by celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon, whose recommendations often boost books that might otherwise languish in obscurity in enviable spots on bestseller lists. major media. Witherspoon’s promotion of ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ is credited with starting the buzz on Delia Owen’s debut novel, which has now been on the New York Times bestseller list for 69 weeks – and at No. for many of them.

Book clubs have played such an important role in marketing books and renewing the public’s interest in reading that last weekend The New York Times launched a new regular feature in the Sunday Book Review titled “Group Text”, which he billed as “a monthly column for readers and readers”. book clubs on novels, memoirs and collections of short stories that make you want to talk, ask questions and live a little longer in another world. The newspaper encourages readers – perhaps those without their own club – to “join the conversation” about its selected books on the NYT’s Facebook page – a kind of book club of its own.

Although variations of today’s book-reading groups have entertained socially and culturally advantaged people of high society since the early 1700s in America, the recent boom in book clubs across the country has been attributed to the popularity of “And Ladies of the Club” by Helen Hooven Santmyer. a 1984 novel that told the story of a longtime book club and became a bestseller.

But what has spawned this new wave of group book reading? It’s certainly not a sudden increase in reading by Americans. For 2019, NPD Bookscan reported that adult sales of 424 million units were down 6.5 million books from 2018, and that overall book sales were even solely due to an increase in books for children sold.

Perhaps part of the increase in the socialization of reading can be attributed to a revival of appreciation for female friendships and perhaps part to the growth in popularity of wine in America. Some clubs I know of are as much about socializing, adult food and drink as they are about books.

Indeed, a friend recently told me that she had decided to join a book club at my hometown library. It only lasted a week. “It was sterile,” she said. “We were seated around a table in a conference room with no wine.”

While your library setup and book choices might not be your cup of tea (or glass of wine), if you’re looking for a club to join, libraries can often provide you with a list of book clubs. of the region. Bookstores can. Or, if you can’t find one to your liking, do what I did: start your own!

Marj Charlier is a novelist and facilitator of an Inlandia workshop in the Coachella Valley. Her most recent novel, The Rebel Nun, will be published by Blackstone Publishing next year.