The growing popularity digital book club platforms make it easier than ever to interact with other readers and discuss the twists of your favorite book, learn about trends or social issues with peers, or start a new book club from like-minded readers.
Digital book platforms offer readers the opportunity to discuss books with other readers, interact with authors and book influencers, and find new book choices and discussion guides, all while getting new friends. The social reading trend is all about discovering, reading and discussing stories with friends, family and colleagues, according to Padmasree Warrior, Founder, President and CEO of Fable. Warrior, the former CEO of smart vehicle maker NIO US, brought her tech experience with her to Fable, which launched in spring 2021.
These digital book clubs, such as Bookclubs (formerly Bookclubsz), Book Club by BookMovement, and Fable, all offer a variety of social reading services. Readers get various benefits from these services, such as traditional in-person book clubs, live virtual club meetings, and platforms that resemble social media, Warrior says. Here are some ways to find the book club service that’s right for you.
What are you looking for?
For users looking to connect with other readers through a book club, Anna Ford, one of the founders of Bookclubs, suggests having a clear goal in mind. “Think about what you hope to get out of book club. Do you hope to make new friends in your area? Then find an in-person book club near you. Want to know more about a specific topic? We have clubs that focus on history, environmentalism, anti-racism, personal growth and development, and more. Do you want to diversify your library? Check out our clubs that focus on works by female or underrepresented authors,” she says.
It is essential to determine how you want to interact with your club as a reader. “We have public clubs with hundreds or thousands of people, where meetings are less interactive but may include an interview with the author. Or we have much smaller clubs where you can actively participate in the discussion on zoom ( or in person.) And in between are clubs that are active on club message boards or planning virtual chats, Ford says.
With your goal in mind, browse to find a club that resonates with you. Pauline Hubert, founder and president of BookMovement, suggests readers visit the site and look at the clubs before signing up. “See what they read – how they describe the club, mix of social chat and books. Ask them what they read last – see if you can connect with them around a book you and the club have read,” she said.
The Bookclubs forum has been recently redesigned to help people find discussions that are right for them. “This is a new, open forum that invites readers to follow their interests and find their booksellers,” says Ford. The service makes it easy to browse book clubs and join them for free with just one click. “It’s a vibrant hub of everything imaginable: ADHD support groups, Islamic art enthusiasts, clubs run by authors like AL Jackson and countless others. Some clubs meet in person, others online. The varied selection means members can actively participate in a targeted club, or just be a passive follower in a larger club hosted by a popular influencer,” she adds.
Focus on connections
Find the format and connection that interests you the most. Blogger Melissa Austin-Weeks hosts her virtual “Mrs. Twist reads this book” using the private book club pages of BookMovement and its 200 members. Meetings are recorded and the video link is posted on the members page to be viewed.” I started my book club in 2017 with the intention of spending more time reading and creating a community for women to gather, connect and grow. I achieved that and more,” says Weeks, who publicizes the club on social media and its website. Authors have come to his club virtually over the years, including Frances Mays, Rebecca Searle and Sue Monk.
Hubert of BookMovement adds, “You can have nifty tech with tons of features and not find what you’re looking for: connection. We don’t need another algorithm. The challenge for technology right now is to help humans connect in a way that makes us less alone, not more. BookMovement, says Hubert, is people-driven. “Establishing a human connection with the members through the books is the priority. “Technology” (website/application) is not an end in itself, it is a means.
Discover new books
All of these platforms offer ways to find new books to read, so you need to look for one that’s full of recommendations that work for you. Fable, for example, hosts book clubs with individual readers and an array of book clubs including families, institutions, and universities. It features recommended reading lists, or “Folios,” created by authors and “curators” such as LeVar Burton, David Sedaris, Anthony Doerr, Malinda Lo, Adam Grant, and Jasmine Guillory.
BookClub, on the other hand, is membership-based and allows members to create a shared library with meeting details, RSVPs, discussion questions, book information, and book club ratings. It also features top club picks of the week, newly reviewed books, new releases, book giveaways, and videos with virtual book launch parties.