If you've ever dreamed of starting a book club, but worried you didn't have the right space to do it in, we've got some great news for you: meeting up in person is no longer the only way. Starting an online reading group with friends is simple if you follow these
tips for hosting a digital book club.
In addition to all of the incredible
benefits that being in a book club holds normally, there are even more upsides to hosting a digital version. In an online book club, it doesn't matter if your members are in the same city or halfway across the world, because thanks to the power of the internet, you can all be in one digital space at the same time.
When you're starting a digital book club, all the standard book club rules apply: you want to pick a theme or goal for your club and stick with it, include diverse authors in your reading list, set a regular schedule, and have
prepared discussion questions before every meeting. But if you're running a digital book club, there are a few other rules that apply, too.
Ready to join the ranks of Emma Watson, Oprah, Emma Roberts, and Reese Witherspoon? Then here are 10 tips to
hosting a great digital book club. 1 Make a designated Facebook group for all members to join.
There are a lot of different
social media platforms out there, but Facebook is among the best for organizing group activities, including an online book club. One of the first steps to starting your own group is to establish a Facebook page for it, where you can invite new members to join, share new reading suggestions, and post meeting schedules. You can make your group private, so only members you invite are allowed to join, or leave it open to the public so more readers can join in. 2 Utilize the tools on Goodreads.
After you have your Facebook page set up, you're going to want to head on over to
Goodreads and start giving your club a more robust online presence. Like you did on Facebook, you can use this bookish social media site to establish a group that members can join. On the group landing page, you can add a description of your club, keep track of members, moderate discussions on the discussion board, list upcoming events, including online meetings, and digitally shelve all of the books your club has read. Goodreads is basically a dream come true for anyone running an online book club, so if you aren't familiar yet, it's about time. 3 Have a set moderator for discussions.
If you're ever sat in on a book club in person, you know that too many book-lovers can get out of control quickly — what can we say, we just
really love talking about books! But if you think discussions IRL can get out of hand, just wait until you're trying to get a word in online. That's why it's essential that for all of your digital book club meetings, you have an official moderator that can get the discussion going in the beginning with pre-written questions, as well as keep the club's talk on track, organized, and fair to all participants involved. If you are running the book club, you can volunteer to be the moderator, or have other members of the club take turns at the helm. 4 Change up the way you hold your discussions.
Speaking of discussions, don't be afraid to change up the way your book club hosts its online meetings to include a variety of communication methods. If you like to see one another, you can use Skype video chat or Google Chats video calls. If you prefer text-based conversations, your options are basically limitless and include using your Facebook or Goodreads page to generate discussion, use an official hashtag on Twitter to host an online #bookchat, or use one of the many online chatting tools including Slack, Fleep, HipChat, and more. There is no end to the number of ways you and your group can talk about books online, so don't be afraid to explore until you find the perfect one.
5 Use online surveys to select the books your club reads.
When it comes to picking a book for your club, the best, easiest, and fairest way to make sure all members' voices are heard is by voting on each new read. Since you are not going to be meeting in person, you can create a vote online using one of the many survey tools available to you. Facebook has a poll option that you can customize to include all of your club's reading options, or you can create your own survey using
Google Forms, Survey Monkey, or one of the many other free tools on the internet. 6 Use your landing pages to share more than just meeting dates.
Whether you're using your group's Facebook page or Goodreads group, utilize your online platforms for more than just announcing books and meeting dates. Take advantage of the fact that you can reach all of your members by posting in one place by sharing information, thoughts, and opinions about the books you're reading throughout the month, in between official discussions. You can link to
author interviews, book reviews, roundups featuring other books you've read, book trailers, and more. It's a great way to keep yourself, and your members, engaged with the club outside of your scheduled talks. 7 Read digital books instead of physical ones.
If you're going to be in a digital book club, doesn't it make sense to read a digital book? By reading an ebook on your Kindle, Nook, or other reading app, you have the ability to easily track your favorite quotes and highlights, make notes along the way, and simply
share them with your reading group via Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter when you're done. It's a more interactive way to read together, share your thoughts, and see how others in the group interpret the reading. 8 Hold remote reading sessions.
In a traditional book club, you probably wouldn't get together to
read the book, just to discuss it. But if you know you're going to be isolated from your fellow human beings for a while, consider asking one or two members to hop on your favorite video-chatting app so that you can be in the same "room" while you read. It's not exactly like being there in person, but it's better than being alone, and it holds you accountable for actually reading the book! 9 Get creative with video sharing.
Speaking of video-chatting apps, the tech world is a big, bustling place with
plenty of options for your video chats. Zoom is a huge contender in the virtual conferencing market today, but you might also consider Discord, or even Google Hangouts, for all your digital book club needs. All of these services allow for text-based chats and audio-only calls as well, so they're here for you no matter what the needs of your members may be. 10 Set up virtual talks with your favorite authors.
A lot of authors have had their promotional events canceled lately, which may impact the sales of their book. Thankfully, you can help your favorite authors raise their visibility by having them chat with your book club whenever possible. Nina LaCour, Sarah Maclean, and Amy Stewart have all been known to do quick author chats with readers in the past, but you should always reach out to prospective writers at least a month in advance, to make sure they're open and available.
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This article was originally published on
March 30, 2017