Book Clubs

Book Club Recommendations for the week of March 17

With April approaching, I’m sure you have poetry events in order. Have you considered hosting a poetry book club? Why limit reading (or selling) poetry to April?

Introduce your poetry readers to Directing Herbert White: Poems by James Franco. A paperback original, it would be a great pick for a poetry book club.

For non-fiction book clubs, new releases in paperback include:

Or here are some new paperback possibilities for fiction book clubs:

New in Paperback: Book Club Recommendations

There are several new paperback releases that would make good recommendations for book clubs. You can post these on your website and share the link through social media, or include in your next newsletter. When you do, be sure to post the other services or discounts you offer to book clubs.



Birthday Club for Kids

Yesterday’s issue featured a look at book clubs for kids as a way to foster reading and to also build a library. Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, MN, offers another take on kids book clubs: the Red Balloon Birthday Club.

To participate, parents enroll their children in the club with basic name, birthday, and address information. Then each year until they are 18 years old, members receive a card in the mail wishing them Happy Birthday that doubles as a coupon. The coupon is good for anything Red Balloon sells, but they recommend a book.

“We send out the postcards just before the beginning of the month,” Red Balloon manager, Joan Trygg, told me. “The coupon earns the customer $3 off and is good for through the month of the birthday.”

If this is something you’d like to emulate in your bookstore, here’s how Red Balloon Bookshop does it.

  • Participants sign up by submitting name, month/year of birth, address to where the card should be sent.
  • Red Balloon sends a confirmation email of enrollment.
  • Since the participants enroll with only the month and year, birthday card/coupons are mailed just once a month. The Red Balloon Birthday Club coupon is good only for the birthday month, so they mail the postcard to arrive before the month begins.
  • Red Balloon has a standard postcard that they use every month, so they only have to print and affix labels, add postage, and mark an expiration date. The monthly process takes about an hour.
  • Red Balloon Bookshop promotes the program through their website, with in-store signage, and through customer interaction.

A Birthday Book Club provides a nice spin on the tradition book club for kids. For a child, an annual trip to the bookstore to celebrate only “me” is a pretty nice present, indeed.

Book Clubs for Kids

Storytime can be a valuable tool for parents for a variety of reasons. It introduces their little ones to new books. It helps children interact with other children. And it gets them out of the house. Once the kids reach a certain age, however, they stop attending. One way to keep them in the fold is to offer a variety of book clubs for kids. Mother-daughter, father-son, age specific; there are a variety of options I will touch on in the coming weeks. But today I want to focus on a Classics for Kids book club.

A Classics for Kids book club features classical pieces of literature abridged for appropriate age groups. For example, to introduce The Epic of Gilgamesh to a 9-year-old, a parent-child duo could begin with Gilgamesh the Hero by Geraldine McCaughrean, illustrated by David Parkins. Or instead of The Iliad, they can both read Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliff. When my kids were young, I used The Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer as a guide. But your booksellers are experts and can come up with an appropriate reading list for various ages.

The beautiful thing about this type of book club is that by offering different groups for different reading levels, you can base your selections on a calendar schedule and repeat the reading selections each year. Young readers move up a level as new readers join the group, giving the bookstore perpetual sales potential.

You can launch a new session with the beginning of each school year. Or participants can move up to the next level during the summer, as they prepare for a new grade level in school.

Promote a Classics for Kids book club to parents and grandparents, but also to teachers. If they see a student that needs to be challenged, you’re offering them a valuable tool. Teachers can also be a great resource for teaching the book clubs. Especially if they can receive a store discount in return.

Even though the books discussed at book club are classics, be sure to introduce the group members to new books they might enjoy. Take the time to prepare a handout with your list of recommended reading.

Young people who belong to a Classics for Kids book club not only benefit by building a library, but also by building a lifetime of reading.


New for Book Clubs

Here are some great titles new to paperback. Would any of them be a perfect fit for one of your bookclubs? Reach out to the leaders, and if you e-mail links to them, make sure the links are from your commerce page.

The Cooked Seed by Anchee Min

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Theresa Anne Fowler

Flora by Gail Godwin

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Oleander Girl by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger