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BookBrowse News Update

Nov 30, 2020

New Research: Book Clubs in Lockdown

California, USA: BookBrowse, a website for book clubs and those who read to expand their horizons, today announced publication of their new research report, "Book Clubs in Lockdown", investigating how book clubs have responded and adapted to the extraordinary events of 2020.

This comprehensive project, based on an October 2020 survey of over 3,400 book club members contains many intriguing insights about how book clubs have risen to the challenges that 2020 has brought, and how these changes will impact book clubs for the long term.

It is available for free at

"The resilience of book clubs shines through," said Davina Morgan-Witts, BookBrowse Publisher. "Of course, book clubs would prefer to be meeting without restrictions, but the majority have persevered and found a way forward. It is truly heartening to see how these groups of dedicated readers have worked together to maintain, and even grow, their community."

Key Findings:

  • Three-quarters of respondents say their group has been meeting during the pandemic. Many have experienced sickness, quarantines or fatalities among those close to them, and many feel drained by current events; but they also feel supported by their book club and buoyed by a greater sense of friendship and community, leading to half saying their group is even more important to them than last year.
  • The quarter of respondents in book clubs that are not currently meeting are generally not doing so because either their group could not find a safe way to meet in person or most of the members were technically unable or uncomfortable meeting virtually. Compared to those that are meeting, a higher proportion of respondents belong to public groups such as those that meet in libraries and bookstores. 90% say their book club is important to them, and they look forward to meeting again as soon as their group is able to do so.
  • Of the groups that are currently meeting, two-thirds are doing so virtually, almost all on Zoom, which is described as a lifeline by many. The remainder are meeting in person, half of them outdoors (albeit with some looking for a new winter location).
  • Overall, one-third of respondents in book clubs that are currently meeting virtually expect to retain a virtual element in the future: Some expect to be all virtual; most expect their group will use virtual technology to enable absent members to join in-person meetings or to host the entire meeting virtually at certain times; for example, when weather conditions are not conducive to meeting in person.
  • There is considerable potential demand for virtual book clubs. 14% of those meeting virtually say their attendance is up compared to 2019 primarily due to members who have moved away being able to join in; and 3% of respondents are in a book club that expects to remain all virtual (around half of these groups formed this year in direct response to the pandemic). In addition, we know from our past research (Inner Lives of Book Clubs, 2019) that there are many readers who would like to be in a book club but have not been able to commit to an in person group because of issues such as childcare, frequent travel, lack of transportation and disabilities.
  • Many find virtual discussions less free-flowing. This is seen as a benefit by some who feel their group's book discussions are more focused and inclusive due to fewer side conversations, but others miss the organic flow of an in-person meeting.
  • 58% of respondents say their group has discussed racial issues in 2020.
  • Politics is a challenging topic for many US book clubs: while 37% of respondents in the US say their group has discussed politics in 2020, 27% say their group has banned political discussion, up from 11% in 2018 (and compared to just 3% for non-US groups).
  • Although some book clubs report lower attendance (usually due to health concerns for groups meeting in person and technical issues for groups meeting virtually), 14% of virtual groups have increased attendance, primarily due to members who have moved away being able to join in, and also from people who weren't able to commit to an in person group being able to join virtually.
  • Sourcing print books has been a particular challenge with library buildings closed for much of the year and, even now, longer than usual wait times due to quarantining of books and higher than usual demand. Many groups that would normally borrow print books have turned to their library's ebook collection, with Hoopla frequently mentioned for its unlimited downloads. However, using the technology has been a challenge for some, who look forward to returning to borrowing print books.

About BookBrowse


BookBrowse is your guide to exceptional books. Because people don’t have the time to read about every book, let alone read all of them, BookBrowse seeks out and recommends only the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction. We recommend high-quality, well-written books across a range of genres, mainly for adults, with some outstanding YA—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. More


BookBrowse is a destination for avid readers of intelligent fiction and narrative nonfiction, particularly book clubbers and those who read to expand their horizons. Readers visit BookBrowse looking to find out what’s new, and to explore their specific reading interests in a carefully curated environment that allows them to bypass the noise of less selective and crowd-sourced sites to easily find the books that are right for them.

BookBrowse offers free and premium content, with subscription options for individuals and libraries, so that all patrons can access from anywhere at any time.


BookBrowse has been researching readers and book clubs for more than 15 years, during which time weve researched more than 20,000 readers and book club members. Published research includes: "Book Clubs in the US" (2015), "The Inner Lives of Book Clubs" (2019) and "Book Clubs in Lockdown":


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BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.