Bookstore sponsored book clubs are important because of the built-in handselling they present. Offering themed book clubs is a smart idea; as long as you have a leader, the time, and the space, book clubs help customers find their place in the reading world.
Just over a year ago, the folks at R.J. Julia in Madison, CT, started a Debut Author Book Club. Lori Fazio, general manager of R.J. Julia, explains that the book club stemmed from a “Debut Author of the Month” initiative to help publishers and debut authors. “We know it’s important when an author is getting their start, and if the author is unknown, it can be difficult to drum up business. If the author is coming to the store for an event, it helps to have an automatic audience.”
The group meets once a month, and the books are chosen through a collaborative effort between R.J. Julia’s book club coordinator and the book club members. Past selections include The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, and The Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra.
R.J. Julia sponsors 6 in-store book clubs, and have many outside book clubs registered with the store. “Our book clubs are customer based,” says Fazio. “We put a book club out there for the customers, and then ask one to take the helm.”
Book clubs that order selections through the store receive a 15% paperback discount and a 20% hardcover discount. With the Debut Author Book Club, sometimes the group receives galleys and can then buy the new release at a discount.