Book club

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For the British televison situation comedy please see The Book Group.

A book club is a club where people usually meet to discuss a book that they have read and express their opinions, likes, dislikes, etc. They may also be known as book discussion clubs, and meet in private homes, libraries, bookstores, restaurants over meals, etc.


[edit] Single title clubs

A single title book club one in which people usually meet to discuss a particular title that they have read and then go on to express their opinions, likes, dislikes about it. They may also be known as book groups or book discussion clubs. They meet in private homes, libraries, bookstores, restaurants over meals, etc.

Characteristics of a single title book club naturally include that every person in the group is meant to read the same title at the same time. Clearly a single person or small group of people must decide ahead of time what that title will be. Most often that title will be new release and it is expected that each member buy a personal copy.

One famous book club is Oprah's Book Club, which was founded by famed African-American talk show host, Oprah Winfrey.

[edit] Multi title clubs

The characteristics of a multi title club are such that each member may be reading different titles from each other at any give time. What distinguishes this from any group of unrelated people reading different things from each other, is that each title is expected to be read by the next member in a serial fashion.

[edit] Open loans

Open loans imply that the books in question are free to be loaned among the population with the expectation of getting them back eventually. Instead of one member deciding what everyone will read, with all the cost implications of acquiring that title, these clubs usually involve circulating books they already own. Each book is introduced with a short precis. This offers members the advantage of previewing a work before committing to read. It has the effect of narrowing the focus of the dialogue so that book and reader are more quickly and more accurately matched up. The seqential nature of the process implies that within a short time, 3-5 people may have read the same title, which is the perfect amount for a worthy conversation. Examples of this methodology include the Houston SF Book Network [1]

[edit] Catch and Release

Catch and release imply that actual ownership of the book trasfers each iteration with no expectation of the book returning to the original owner. The mechanism of transfer may include a personal face to face hand off, sending the items though the mail, or most remarkably, leaving the book in a public place with the expectation that unknown future readers will find it there. All three methods are utilized with BookCrossing.[2] Book Crossers use a website and a system of unique identifcation numbers to track released items as they migrate through a world wide community. The interaction is largely web centric, but it does not exclude face-to-face gatherings, each of which can take on the traits of other book groups.

[edit] Commercial clubs

A book club may also be a method of publishing and selling books. Each "member" of the book club agrees to receive books by mail, and pay for them as they are received. This may be done by means of negative option billing in which the customer receives an announcement of the book or books along with a form to notify the seller if the customer does not want the book. If the customer fails to return the form by a specified date, the seller will ship the book and expect the customer to pay for it, or the business may operate via a "positive option" in which the customer is periodically sent a list of books offered, but none issent until the customer specifically orders them.

Book clubs typically sell books at a sizable discount from their list prices. Often the books sold are editions created specifically for sale by book clubs, and manufactured more cheaply and less durably than the regular editions.

The Book-of-the-Month-Club (founded 1923) is an early and well known example of this kind of business. Others include the Science Fiction Book Club, the Mystery Book Club, and the Quality Paperback Book Club. The largest clubs have millions of members.

[edit] Non-literary clubs

A book club is also a euphemism for a game meant to keep track of how many alcoholic beverages a group of people have consumed over an unspecified time frame, often played by high school and college students. Because public knowledge of their drinking is considered taboo (and in some cases, illegal), the contest is labeled as a "book club," an otherwise acceptable academic activity. The number of "books" one has read is indicative of the number of drinks they have consumed. It is common for the number of "books" the group members have read to be listed on a white board or other erasable medium in a common area of a dormitory or cafeteria.

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