Book clubs have been around for a long time, providing meaningful opportunities for bibliophiles to come together to exchange views and build strong bonds.
However, it is not always convenient to travel long distances to meet in person, and on other occasions you may want to do so, but circumstances beyond your control can lure you into a trap at home.
Online book clubs are ideal for these situations, and this article will focus on tips to help you get started.
1. Determine the size of the group.
To start creating your virtual book club, you will need to determine how big or small you want it to be. You can start with 10-15 people; the size is acceptable, but large enough to get different opinions and points of view. It would be best to avoid large numbers of people as discussions can get noisy and you may find it difficult to hear what they have to say.
2. Find a topic
There are so many books out there that it might be helpful to narrow your choices by finding a topic for your virtual book club (although you can still read anything). You can also do this because it will affect who your virtual book club will be.
You can define your topics based on the genres of the books you want to read. For example, horror, self-development, science fiction, detective stories or biography. In addition, you can also select books by plot or subject, or books written by specific authors.
3. Invite participants
So which lucky person would you like to invite to your virtual book club?
You can invite old friends. You are probably friends because you have several common interests and this can be a great way to stay connected. You may want to step out of your comfort zone and expand your social circle by inviting other bibliophiles through book forums or social media. Or maybe your colleagues will do their job? This can be a great opportunity to get to know them outside of work.
However, since this is a virtual book club, if you are inviting members who live in different time zones, you should consider using tools like Time Temperature or Every Time Zone to pick a time that is right for everyone.
4. Establish ground rules
While the ultimate rule of thumb for your digital book club would be to read books, it would be helpful to establish other ground rules to better organize and help you achieve your reading goals.
So, here are some ideas you can use for inspiration:
- Accept everyone’s opinion and agree to respectfully disagree, as there are many ways to interpret any book. Plus, this is probably one of the reasons you are starting a virtual book club.
- Set a date and time for discussion. You can use scheduling apps like Google Calendar or Todoist to set reminders.
- It can be difficult for a group to read and discuss a huge book on time. However, it can be helpful to choose shorter books, such as novels or storybooks.
- While it can be a social event, as it is also an opportunity for communication, the main purpose is to discuss the books you are reading, and that is what you should be doing most of the time allotted.
However, there is always the risk of engaging in casual chatter when meeting people, or that more outspoken participants outshine their introverted colleagues. To overcome this problem, you can appoint a leader before each meeting to organize discussion by limiting but not excluding casual conversations and giving everyone the opportunity to speak up.
5. Decide how you will choose books
It’s time for you to define the system that you will use to select books for your virtual book club. Even though you have already greatly reduced your options by defining a topic, there are still many books in each category.
Considering that you are starting a book club, we are sure that you already have several options. However, it is best to involve the entire group from the beginning by bringing the books together.
You can use tools like Doodle, to vote, or the application for recommendations of books to make this decision for you.
So where can you find these books? Since this is a virtual book club, we will assume that you do not want to visit your local library. Fortunately, there are tons of options on the internet. You can download many free e-books or read them directly to your mobile phone or tablet via Kindle . If you prefer listening to audiobooks, there are excellent websites where you can get free audiobooks .
Finally, a book summary writing service like Blinkist can also come in handy right before the group discussion to help you revise and remember the most important parts of the book.
6. Choose your platform
It’s time to decide how you will meet online to discuss your books with your book club members. Fortunately, there are many great digital tools that you can use for this purpose.
There are two main ways to do this. You can get rid of most of the logistics by using software designed specifically for online book clubs like Bookship , Book Club or Bookclubz .
Related: Best Digital Tools for Starting a Virtual Book Club
Or, you can leverage your creativity and enjoy more flexibility by creating your virtual group in chat and video conferencing apps like Slack , Zoom, or Google Meet.
Let the discussion of the virtual book proceed
You can now use these tips to organize your virtual book clubs and exchange ideas with other book lovers. But don’t forget to have some fun!
As mentioned above, the purpose of the group may be to discuss books in the virtual space. However, you can mix things up by having face-to-face discussions from time to time, watching a movie watching a movie together when one of the books you’ve covered hits the screen, or visiting your local bookstore