Themed book clubs are a great way to reach out to a new audience of readers and loyal customers. Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, MA, started a Small Press Book Club in September 2013.
“I wanted to start the book club as a way of highlighting books published by smaller and independent presses that don’t have the big publicity budgets of the larger houses, and to read off the bestseller lists a bit,” Natasha Gilmore told me. Gilmore is the leader of the group as well as buyer for the store. “‘We have a core group of 6-10 people that come regularly but new people show up each time.”
The group meets monthly, and so far their selections have included:
- Speedboat by Renata Adler
- The Pushcart Prize anthology
- Self Unstable by Elisa Gabbert
- The Fata Morgana Books by Jonathan Littell
- Autobiography of a Corpse by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky
- Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm (reprinted by Melville House)
- The Weirdness by Jeremy Bushnell
“It’s been really fun, and we’ve gotten some really interesting conversations,” said Gilmore.
By selecting a title for a book club, you’re handselling in a way that reaches far beyond the one-on-one book recommendation. Readers often share in conversation what their respective groups are reading, so book club selections receive extra word-of-mouth promotion.
Gilmore likes giving these titles a boost. “We’re able to draw attention to books that–as a bookseller–I would have unfortunately seen go unnoticed before.”