June 26, 2022

Reese Witherspoon’s New App Joins Growing Crowd of Virtual Book Clubs

Hello Sunshine, the media company founded by actress and entrepreneur Reese Witherspoon, has launched a free app for her book club, providing the latest digital hangout away from the crowds on major social media platforms.

Reese’s book club has been running on Instagram since 2017, where he has racked up 1.9 million subscribers. Executives believe he can strengthen his relationship with readers with his own app.

“We wanted to build our cozy corner of the Internet,” said Cynthia Rupeka, vice president of Reese’s Book Club, which is part of Hello Sunshine, the consumer name of Be Sunshine LLC.

Book club apps are becoming more common as people seek to rally around specific interests in new ways. Discord Inc., a chat startup popular with gamers that also has dedicated channels for other interests and the audio-only social network Clubhouse recently raised $ 100 million each from investors.

People felt more isolated during the pandemic, with 34% of U.S. adults saying social media, video calls, and texting didn’t help them feel more connected to friends and family, according to data from Forrester Research Inc.,

a study office.

But they maintained an appetite for novelty and ways to be entertained, said Anjali Lai, senior analyst at Forrester.

“It’s a bit of a perfect storm for this desire to find like-minded consumers in some sort of private space, right behind those closed digital doors, that feels a bit more intimate, and connect with people from that way, ”Ms. Lai said.

Readers flocked to Amazon.com Inc.

Goodreads service, which allows users to create groups for a variety of reading interests. The service has over 120 million members. Oprah Winfrey has perhaps the most famous book club. She revived the club in 2019 with an apple Inc.

partnership that includes an Apple TV + show with author interviews, a dedicated section in Apple’s Books app and a podcast. The book club also reaches readers through social media and a Goodreads group.

But big services sometimes overwhelm readers, Ms. Lai said.

In addition to hosting virtual book club sessions via video, Reese’s Book Club app tries to respond to users’ sense of individuality with events such as’ club chats’ focusing on topics such as way people organize their shelves.

Hello Sunshine receives a portion of the revenue from book purchases resulting from members clicking ecommerce sites from its app.

The company also has partnerships with businesses, such as an in-car app in some Buick models. Drivers can listen to an audiobook through the app as well as podcasts from Hello Sunshine.

The Hello Sunshine Book Club app competes with similar products from companies such as Literati Inc., which in October expanded beyond its subscription-based children’s books service to also offer a version for adults. The new iteration features clubs hosted by celebrities such as National Basketball Association star Stephen Curry; subscribers pay $ 25 per month or $ 240 per year for a new book each month and access to conversations and other content in the app. The company has raised a total of $ 52 million from investors such as Felicis Ventures.

A club called the Lounge organizes discussions with authors by video; members can also discuss books or other interests in a Slack group or at smaller events. “What was missing and what we tried to create in the Lounge fills those gaps for constant communication,” said Olivia Rogine, Community Manager at The Lounge and Girls’ Night In, which is part of No Plans Inc.

Members pay $ 130 per year or $ 12 per month.

Digital book clubs are finding ways to strengthen their relationships with users outside of social media platforms, said Zoe Scaman, founder of Bodacious Ltd., a strategy studio.

“It often feels like we are screaming into the void and no one can hear us,” added Ms Scaman, referring to major social media platforms. “And so what people have done is turn to this sense of intimate, interest-based communities.”

Write to Ann-Marie Alcántara at [email protected]

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