What Book Clubs Want

February 2005
by Pauline Hubert

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The reading groups–a.k.a. book clubs–that meet in homes, bookstores, and libraries, among other places around the country, have become a holy grail in the publishing world, not only because of their sheer numbers (5 million American adults participate in them) but also because of their passion–that spark of enthusiasm that emanates from book-club discussions to get people talking and fan the flames of hand-selling.

Book clubs are the invisible army for consumer word of mouth. Although they’re not connected to each other, not in touch with each other, and not easily reachable, they have created bestsellers. The best documented is Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. As Malcolm Gladwell points out in his eye-opening book The Tipping Point, “Ya-Ya’s roots in book-group culture tipped it into a larger word-of-mouth epidemic.”

So the question is: How can authors and publishers tap into this enormous market and get book clubs excited about their books?

When I started BookMovement.com in 2003, I interviewed book-club members to see what they liked about their clubs, what they needed, and what they wanted. My goal was to create a Web site that would give them everything they need and, in doing so, to assemble them as an audience and build a marketing platform for authors and publishers.

That meant I had to tell clubs about books in a way that would be useful to them. Here is what I found as I explored poss…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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