New Research: Book Clubs in Lockdown!

Book Clubs in Lockdown - cover2020 has been a tough year; we have faced restrictions due to the ongoing pandemic, social unrest, and a bitterly contested and divisive Presidential election in the USA. Many of us have been separated from our family and friends. With so many lives disrupted, we wondered…how has all this impacted readers and particularly those in book clubs? So in October we launched a survey to find out! Within two weeks we had over 4,500 responses, including 3,400 from book club members.

Since then, the BookBrowse team has been working to analyze the responses (there was a lot of information!) to build a clearer picture of how book clubs are reacting to the challenges they've faced this year, and what this might mean for the long term. I want to thank all who took part in the survey, many with very detailed and well-considered comments, through which we've gained many insights that we're eager to share with you.

The "Book Clubs in Lockdown" report is just released and is available to you in full for free. Go to bookbrowse.com/wp/lockdown to download your copy and, when you have, please do share with others.

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Effective Ways to Encourage Quiet Book Club Members to Speak Up

Book clubs can be such a wonderful space for people to share their ideas; diverse viewpoints can lead to deeper and more valuable discussions that help us grow, both as individuals and as a society. 

But what do you do when people don't speak up? How do you encourage quiet members to contribute?

According to BookBrowse's research report, The Inner Lives of Book Clubs, 16% of people currently in a book club say their group has one or more members who rarely participate in the discussions. In most cases, the respondents express sadness and frustration saying that they would like to hear from these quieter members because their opinions and experiences are of value. After all, it's the active participation and communication of ideas that allows for meaningful discourse.

To better understand what to do (if anything), it's important to look at the reasons why a book club member might be staying silent.

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What To Do When Members Come to Book Club Without Reading the Book?

Has your book group ever become frustrated by members who join in book discussions without having finished the book -- or, in some cases, without even starting it?

If so, you're not alone. According to our research, 15% of reading group members say their book club has experienced problems around this issue; and a quarter of those who left a previous book club due to dissatisfaction cited frustration over members attending without having read the book, or not attending meetings at all, as a factor in their decision to leave.

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Tips on How to Be An Effective Book Club Facilitator

A friend of mine recently contacted me because her in-person book club is moving online during the COVID-19 pandemic and she's worried about making the transition, particularly as, while she loves her group, their discussions have a tendency of devolving into friendly chit-chat at the best of times with people talking over each other and sharing personal anecdotes, rather than the meaningful book discussion that she hoped for.

I asked her if her group had considered designating a facilitator - someone who, generally speaking, helps the group get the most out of their discussions by being prepared, keeping things on track and making sure that everyone's voice is heard. She said they had, but that she felt some trepidation as to how to be an effective facilitator, particularly while also navigating an online discussion forum - did I have any suggestions?

Here are the tips I shared with her:

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Food and Competitive Hosting at Book Club Meetings

Food is so closely tied with social gatherings, it's no wonder that it's often present at book club meetings. In fact, according to our research report, The Inner Lives of Book Clubs, 91% of private book clubs have food at their meetings, ranging from a snack (41%) to a full hostess-cooked meal (13%) or potluck (13%). Among public book clubs (i.e. groups that are open to anyone to join, many of which meet in libraries), 61% have some sort of food but the great majority keep it very simple.

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Publishers Weekly Soapbox

Back in May, Publishers WeeklyPublishers Weekly published an article I wrote about BookBrowse's Inner Lives of Book Clubs report, and I've just realized that I totally forgot to post about it in our blog!

So, better late than never, here's a snippet with a link to read it in full...

The Inner Lives of Book Clubs
New research offers insights on the dynamics of book clubs

DavinaFor 20 years BookBrowse has been providing reading recommendations to book clubs and readers in general through its website and newsletters, so we at BookBrowse know that the perception many have of book clubs--as primarily social groups with minimal serious discussion--isn't accurate, but until recently we didn't have the hard data to prove it.

Last year we set out to look beyond the who, what, and where of book clubs, and to instead explore their group dynamics. For example: What do people want from their groups? What motivates them to join in the first place, and why do they stay? What do they look for in the books they read? In the process, we conducted two surveys of more than 5,000 book club members, plus 500 people who read regularly but had never been in a book club. In February, we published our report, titled "The Inner Lives of Book Clubs"--the results of the first survey to get to the heart of the book club experience.

So, what did we learn? ... Continue reading at Publishers Weekly

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