When I saw this news headline, “Super-size literary clubs turn a page by booking authors,” I just had to read on. Remember the kind of neighborhood book club where a few friends got together to read a book and discuss it? Well, the Internet has changed all that. Today, ever-larger groups of people are connecting with authors directly via Facebook and Skype. And many avid fans coming together to hear authors speak, not in libraries or in book stores, but in nontraditional venues like country clubs.
Country clubs? That’s right. When Erik Larson, the author of In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, showed up at NJ’s Green Brook Country Club, he was greeted by 455 enthusiastic readers. It was a “book mob” said the amazed author.
The Green Brook book club started out modestly enough, with 15 members. But as founder Marlene Cohen cajoled beloved authors like Marry Higgins Clark to stop by and chat, her roster of readers began exploding. Today, those huge numbers make attracting best-selling authors much easier — and these events have become book extravaganzas, complete with author appearances and tasty buffets.
Jennifer Hart, who oversees Book Club Girl, a popular blog, notes that “Technology is strengthening the bond between the author and the reader.” Skype appearances, for example, allow authors to reach out to book clubs simultaneously all across the country and even around the world.
All this is good news for us as writers. The more readers read and the more they reach out to cherished authors, the more valuable this kind of experience becomes — and the greater the demand for authors to share what they’ve learned about life and the joys of writing. So, beloved readers, read on!