Posts Tagged ‘book clubs’

BookSwim.com's Nick Ruffilo (@bookswim)

We bookish folks currently live in a funny and expanding universe. Funny and expanding because much of it, for many of us largely takes place virtually. Well, #followreader is one prime example. And, chatting about books and publishing outside of #followreader with fellow Twitter bookish tweeps is another. As are: all the groups and fan sites and friends of a bookish feather we hang out with on Facebook. Did I forget to mention book blogs? Perish the thought! Bookish blogs are a big virtual stop for many of us.

Added to this is the increasingly (again, for many – not all – of us), digital nature of reading itself. Ebooks and ibooks and book apps and whatever will electronic reading gizmo or format will come out in the seconds it takes me to finish typing this sentence — many things about the lit life have gone virtual.

So, it’s pretty fabulous to consider the flip side of all this online activity — it can lead to some wonderful real world interactions with real world books. Consider if you will: I’m in Cambridge a few weeks ago. I casually tweet about being in Cambridge. Not moments later, my Twitter buddy @ConMartin (whom I have never met in real life), direct messages me back, and asks if I’d like to meet for coffee. REALLY meet. For REAL coffee. Well, how cool is that? Long story short, we did meet (real coffee was nixed in favor of real frosty adult beverages). And Constance gave me one of the best tours of Harvard Yard and Harvard BOOKSTORE (definitely worth a visit) that anyone could ever hope for.

@conmartin + @katmeyer meet IRL

In addition, we have a really great conversation, and I learn more about Constance’s own love of books — real booky books– and “in real life” book clubs. I, on the other hand, was able to impart to her some of the reasons I’m crazy about e-reading opportunities and online reading communities.

This is but one example of a bonding with virtual book buddy in the physical plane — another being, just last night I got to meet @susanmpls for the first time in real life for a real dinner at a real restaurant. (more accurately: a really fattening and delicious dinner at a really fabulous Italian restaurant). We talked a lot. A LOT. Almost entirely about books and publishing, but also about chocolate, and family, and – come to think of it, it was mostly about books and publishing.

Begs the question, if virtual relationships can manifest in the real world, what of the connection between physical books and ebooks? I’m not one of those alarmists (I use the term with a tiny grain of salt – please do not take offense all you alarmists, you) who worry that the paper book will be obliterated from the planet. I think paper and plastic will co-exist nicely for as long as we flesh and blood readers remain more real than virtual. But, I have also been running into a lot of cool things happening with booky books lately that make me more and more excited about the book as a real life object. One is visual search, which is a technology that allows the physical to be married to the virtual via smart phones ( QR codes for example, only, visual search ot less bar code-y and a lot more seamlessly integrated into your day to day life).

I’m working on a post over at my day job (Tools of Change) that will offer a glimpse into just how cool this technology is, and how rapidly it’s evolving. So, go over there and check it out tomorrow. (Fingers crossed it will be up tomorrow — I swear, Jamey!).

I’ve also run into some booky-bookish touchstones lately that while are not in the least bit high-tech, do a fabulous job of blurring the lines of what a book is and what the physical book as object means to us as flesh and blood readers. Another story for you: Last month I’m frantically running around BookExpo America, and I have the good fortune of meeting up with the calm, cool and collected Nick Ruffilo of BookSwim.com. We catch up (in real life, for a change) — Nick telling me some of the very interesting things that BookSwim has in store in the near future, and before parting ways, we decide to do the proper IRL thing and exchange real papery business cards. In my usual uncool, uncalm, uncollected manner, I fumble through the black hole that is my purse, looking for one undamaged and mostly legible business card. Nick, on the other hand, reaches calmly into his messenger bag and pulls out an old, leather-bound book:

Nick's book

How odd, you might think – as did I.

But, Nick is full of surprises. Turns out his book is no mere book. His book hides many secrets.

Nick's business card holder

Yeah – that’s cool. As a hobby, and side-gig, Nick takes old, damaged books and converts them into really cool bookish artifacts-with-a-purpose.

It’s interesting how the virtual and the real worlds of books and the bookish tend to collide. Interesting in a good way, I think.

p.s. – Check out Nick’s etsy store. He creates his secret compartment books on request. I might have gone and gotten one. And I might love it to death and highly recommend getting one yourself, if you’re so inclined.

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It was officially announced last week: the One Book One Twitter book club will be reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. The start date was yesterday, but there’s still time to jump on board. If you are curious about just how a Twitter-based, global book club works, you are not alone. In fact, #1b1t’s Marcel Valdes recently brought up the question on the One Book One Twitter website, answering her own question of “how do you get thousands of people to read one book together without ruining the suspense and twists for anyone?” with the presentation of a pretty cool (and very organized) reading and clubbing schedule:

You can read (or reread) any way you want during the next eight weeks – God help us if we tried to stop you – but please, please be kind to others and stick to the following schedule for your comments. That way even the most delicate readers among us will have a chance to enjoy Gaiman’s finely-crafted thrills.

If you feel slightly queasy about tackling such a big book, use this schedule to divvy up the task into manageable chunks. Each week, this schedule covers 70-100 pages, which you can nibble down bit by bit every night before bed, or gobble down in one great, lazy Sunday bender, but keep in mind that the discussion of anything in those chapters is fair game starting from day one. Happy reading everyone, and remember to follow @1b1t2010 for updates and to add the #1b1t to your tweets!

Week 1 : May 5-11
Caveat, Warning for Travelers
Discuss Chapters 1, 2, & 3

Week 2 : May 12-18
Discuss Chapters 4, 5, 6

Week 3 : May 19-25
Discuss Chapters 7, & 8

Week 4 : May 26-June 1
Discuss Chapters 9, 10, & 11

Week 5 : June 2-8
Discuss Chapters 12, & 13

Week 6 : June 9-15
Discuss Chapters 14, 15, & 16

Week 7 : June 16-22
Discuss Chapters 17, 18, & 19

Week 8 : June 23-30
Discuss Chapter 20 and Postscript

And, Jeff Howe has added additional organizational tools with the prescribed use of special Twitter hashtags for each chapter.

We have established an official system of hashmarks. It goes like this:

#1b1t: General Discussion

#1b1t_1c: Discussion of Chapter 1 (and prologue material)

#1b1t_2c: Discussion of Chapter 2

… and on until we hit Chapter 19.

So begins a very cool bookish social media community event experiment! Now to decide, where to buy the book, and in what format?

Hope you’ll all be joining in. It promises to be fun and very, very interesting!

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“Let’s love one book together, our actual geographical location be damned.”

~Jeff Howe (aka @crowdsourcing)

Dear fellow FollowReader-ers,

Jeff Howe/@crowdsourcing

We have found a bookish soul mate. His name is Jeff Howe and he’s our guest on #FollowReader today. Jeff is a contributing editor at Wired Magazine, and coiner of the phrase and author of the book Crowdsourcing – which is all well and good, but not why we’re googly-eyed over him. We like Jeff ‘cuz Jeff has this really awesome idea about getting everyone on Twitter to read the same book at the same time and form a big international book club – kind of like IRL city/community-sponsored reading events, only on Twitter and with a much bigger virtual community.

He has dubbed the project, “One Book, One Twitter” or #1b1t. And, here’s how it envisions it working:

• Now: We collect nominations for what book we want to read.

• Soon: We pick a winner out of the top selections. Why not just pick the one with the most votes? Because it’s not too hard to game the system. The final selection needs to be of general interest. It needs to be translated into many, many languages, and ideally it should be freely available.

• Soon After That: We start reading, and tweeting, and reading, and tweeting.

Isn’t that just the best?

And don’t you really want to find out more and talk about title suggestions? Good! Then meet us on Twitter today at 4pm ET.

To join the #followreader conversation, here’s what to do:

  1. Just before 4pm ET today,  log in to Twitter or whatever interface you prefer. (We recommend Tweetchat, which refreshes quickly and automatically loads your hashtag when you are in the discussion.)
  2. To follow the discussion, run a search for #followreader
  3. I’ll start by asking Jeff a few questions, before opening up the discussion to the group.
  4. To post a comment to the discussion, make sure that the hashtag #followreader is in each tweet you write.

About Jeff Howe (@crowdsourcing)

Jeff Howe is a contributing editor at Wired Magazine, where he covers the media and entertainment industry, among other subjects. In June of 2006 he published “The Rise of Crowdsourcing” in Wired. He has continued to cover the phenomenon in his blog, crowdsourcing.com, and published a book on the subject for Crown Books in September 2008. Before coming to Wired he was a senior editor at Inside.com and a writer at the Village Voice. In his fifteen years as a journalist he has traveled around the world working on stories ranging from the impending water crisis in Central Asia to the implications of gene patenting. He has written for Time Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Post, Mother Jones and numerous other publications. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Alysia Abbott, their daughter Annabel Rose and son Phineas and a miniature black lab named Clementine.

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I was speaking with a publisher yesterday who is all excited about plans to include book club guides in many of their forthcoming books.  Yes, book club guides sound like a nice idea, but the excitement she was expressing over the prospect kind of threw me for a loop. Reading guides?  Surely this is not something to get excited about.

A little more discussion proved that I am wrong. Reading guides are hot – largely because book clubs are very hot, and publishers are excited about any way they can think of to make a title a more likely prospect for a book club pick.

Further proof of the book club renaissance — I only recently noticed libraries stocking “Book Club Kits” — multiple copies of a book which can be checked out by a single member for an entire book club, along with discussion questions and background information on the author.  Apparently, libraries have been making such kits available for a while now, but lately — libraries who have these kits can’t keep up with the demand.

Another indication? I recently got an email from Peter, a fellow who runs Flashlight Worthy Book Recommendations. Apparently he’s looking to expand his offerings of book club books. Why? Well, the book club community has recently discovered FlashLight Worthy’s book club lists, love them – and are clamoring for more.

What’s the reason for this renewed interest in, and popularity of book clubs ? Perhaps it’s because there seems to be a book club for everyone, and they are taking place in all kinds of forms. Some book club members are finding one another, and conducting discussions online. Others are holding on-site book club meetings during lunch breaks at work. There are Twitter book clubs (e.g.:TwitterBookClub; Picador Book Club, JBC Twitter Book Club); book clubs for mothers and  daughters; and even Twitter Book Clubs just for Moms.

Will the increasing prevalence of e-reading devices and social software make book clubs even more popular? Lots of e-book book clubs are already in existence, and with online book and reading communities like BookGlutton, book club members don’t even need to meet at the same time, much less the same place.

We’d love to hear from you — are you in a book club? Is it an “In Real Life” book club, or a virtual one? How did your book club form? What unites the members of your club – genre, relationships, geography? What do you love most about your book club? Why do you think book clubs are enjoying new found popularity?

Let us know in the comments below, and who knows? We just might be doing a #FollowReader discussion on the book club renaissance in the near future.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for new book club lists for Flashlight Worthy, please contact Peter: info@flashlightworthy.com.

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We’re almost caught up with #FollowReader conversation summaries! (go, me!). Last week’s #followreader was really fun (well, for me anyway). The topic was: “Bookish Communities, On and Offline – Where Do You Get Your Fix?” Lots of people tweeted up to let us know about their favorite face-to-face and web-based book clubs, as well as about book-centric social networking sites, libraries, bookstore events, blogs, and websites that they frequent to get their book on.

Lots of people still favor the good old fashioned in person book club. Others are fans of online book groups, and social networking sites. GoodReads and LibraryThing were both cited as great sites. Lots of people mentioned genre-specific clubs they belong to, also.

Conversation wise, the topic of whether publishers should be creating and/or controlling bookish communities was discussed at length. Many, many opinions on this one, but overall most of us don’t think publishers should have control, but it’s cool if they want to facilitate.

This week I’m especially thrilled to announce my DH has written up a program so I can capture our #followreader conversations and present the transcript in “logical” chronological order (that is, oldest to newest). In upcoming posts, we’ll perhaps present this as a link to a site where the transcript will be hosted so not to clog up the blog with tons of tweets, but even as it is, it’s pretty nifty! Enjoy.

Oh! And if you have anything to add about bookish communities – especially great resources for on-and off-line book clubs/groups, PLEASE add in the comments section here. Lots of people will be very appreciative!


Luv,  Kat
Transcript for #FollowReader: Bookish Communities ON- and OFF-Line. Where Do YOU Get Your Fix?

bookish community-there are lots of ways to define, it but how do you live it? what’s your favorite bookish community offline? #followreader

Posted by KatMeyer at Thu, 06 Aug 2009 20:01:12 +0000 (msg id: 3168547045)

Do you belong to a book group? Do you visit the library for your real life bookish community fix?Do you go to author signings? #followreader

Posted by KatMeyer at Thu, 06 Aug 2009 20:02:00 +0000 (msg id: 3168556501) (more…)

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