Book clubs have been around for a long time, creating meaningful opportunities for bibliophiles to come together to exchange insights and make lasting connections.
However, it’s not always convenient to travel long distances to meet in person, and other times, you might be willing to do so, but circumstances beyond your control could trap you at home.
Online book clubs are perfect for times like these, and this article will focus on tips to help you start one.
1. Determine the Group Size
To start creating your virtual book club, you will need to determine how big or small you would like it to be. You can start with 10 to 15 people; the size is manageable, but big enough to get various opinions and perspectives. It would be best to avoid many people, as discussions can get rowdy, and you might struggle to hear what they say.
2. Find a Theme
There are so many books out there, so it would be helpful for you to narrow down your options by finding a theme for your virtual book club (though you could still choose to read anything). You can also do it because it will impact who your virtual book club members will be.
You can define your themes based on the genres of books you would like to read. For example, horror, self-development, fiction, mystery, or biography. Not only that, but you could also choose books by plot or subject, or books written by specific authors.
3. Invite Members
So, who are the lucky people you would like to invite to your virtual book club?
You can invite some old friends. You're probably friends because you share a few common interests, which can be a great way to stay in touch. Perhaps you might want to go out of your comfort zone, and expand your social circle by inviting fellow bibliophiles through book forums or social media. Or, maybe your colleagues will do the trick? This might be the perfect opportunity for you to know them beyond work.
However, since this is a virtual book club, if you invite members who live in different time zones, you should consider using tools like Time Temperature or Every Time Zone to choose a time that works for everyone.
4. Set Ground Rules
Although the ultimate rule of your digital book club would be to read books, it would be helpful to set other ground rules for better organization and to help you accomplish your reading goals.
So, here are a few ideas you can use for inspiration:
- Acknowledge everyone’s opinions and agree to disagree respectfully, as there are many ways to interpret any book. Besides, that’s probably one of the reasons you are starting a virtual book club.
- Set a date and time for the discussions. You can use planner apps like Google Calendar or Todoist to set reminders.
- It might be challenging for the group to read and discuss a mammoth-sized book within a set period. That said, it might be helpful to choose shorter books, like novellas or short story collections.
- Although this might be a social gathering, since it's also an opportunity to connect, the main goal is to discuss the books you read, and that is what you should do for most of the allotted time.
However, there’s always a risk of engaging in random chatter when people meet, or that more outspoken members will overshadow their introverted counterparts. To overcome this challenge, you can appoint a leader before starting each meeting to organize the discussion by limiting, but not eliminating, casual chats and allowing everyone to have their turn to speak.
5. Decide How You Will Pick Books
It’s time for you to determine the system you will use to choose books for your virtual book club. Although you have already significantly reduced your options by defining a theme, there are still plenty of books in each category.
Considering that you are starting a book club, we bet you already have a few options in mind. However, it would be best to engage the entire group from the start by picking the books together.
Now, where can you find these books? Since this is a virtual book club, we assume you’d like to skip your local library. Thankfully, there are numerous options online. You can download many free ebooks or read them directly on your mobile phone or tablet through Kindle. If you prefer to listen to audiobooks, there are great websites to get free audiobooks.
Lastly, a book summary service like Blinkist can also come in handy just before your discussion with the group to help you revise and remember the most relevant parts of the book.
6. Pick Your Platform
Now is the time to decide how you will meet online to discuss your books with the members of your book clubs. Luckily, there are many great digital tools you can leverage for this purpose.
Let the Virtual Book Discussion Flow
You can now leverage 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 group’s purpose might be to discuss books in a virtual space. However, you can mix things by having in-person discussions once in a while, watching a movie together when one of the books you have covered hits the screen, or visiting a local bookstore.