I love love book clubs, but sometimes it’s not easy to fit a “live” book club into my busy schedule. Yes, it’s the highlight of my week — to meet friends and talk about books, but the time crunch also leaves me feeling guilty. I can’t help but consider everything that I should be doing. For me, online book clubs are one way for me to participate in book discussions, while also making it flexible and life-friendly. I can fit my online interactions into spare moments: lunch hours, when the kids are in bed, or when I’m standing in line. With the ease of interaction, though, it’s easy for the online book club to take over. So, here are a few tips:
- Book Club Group: Who will be included (and how many)? If you’re inviting all of your Facebook friends, for example, how will that affect the topic-focus of the book-club group. Also, will your group be a free-for-all group, or are you planning to limit the number of members in the book club?
- Meeting Space: Determine how and where you will meet. There are lots of different ways to meet online: Facebook group, email, text, Google Hangout, etc. Find the method that works best for the greatest number of group members.
- Book Club Topic: Some online book clubs are flexible (each member posts about the books he/she is reading, and then others jump in on the discussion), but most groups are more structured (with an agreed upon topic, author or genre range).
- Rules: If the members of the book clubs are your friends and close acquaintances, you may not feel the need to structure a set of rules for the group. These are your friends, right? You may be surprised by how controversial some topics can become (even between close friends). To ensure the best possible experience, it’s better just to put the rules out there! (You can change them later, if need be.)
- Scheduled Time: Since your schedule is probably the reason you’re so eager to participate in the online book club, this is probably one of the most important elements you must determine when you participate in or launch the book club. When, when, when — that’s a huge question. You can say “anytime” or you can schedule a time every week (or month), and the online book club also offers you the flexibility to change the schedule once you’ve all tried it out, and also based on life changes — throughout the month and year.
Online book clubs offer the best of every possible situation, but there’s also the very-real possibility that it can be a nightmare. So, think about how you want to structure your group, get feedback from the book-club members, and make sure that you’re actually enjoying the experience. None of us has enough time for the headache and heartache of a bad online book club.