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Self-publishing News: Book Clubs Go Digital

Self-publishing News: Book Clubs Go Digital

In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway looks at a new platform that wants to bring authors into readers' digital book clubs.

Dan Holloway head and shoulders

ALLi's News Editor Dan Holloway

ALLi’s new guidebook, 150 Self-Publishing Questions Answered: ALLi’s Writing, Publishing, and Book Marketing Tips for Authors and Poets, written by ALLi’s Outreach Manager M.L. Ronn (Michael La Ronn), is available now. You can read an excerpt in this blog post and you can purchase the book here. As with all our guides, ALLi members can access their complimentary e-book copy in the member zone. Members: just log in and navigate to “Guidebooks”.

BookClub Brings Authors and Readers Together

It’s strange how I can go months, even years, without talking about something then run a story twice in succession. This week is the second story about book clubs. Not just book clubs in lower case. But a new platform called BookClub. BookClub is one of the first of what is sure to be many book-related platforms to experiment with business models that thrived in lockdown. In this case, it follows the Masterclass template. Masterclass took the already-thriving online course market and added a touch of celebrity. The idea is that groups of readers can get together to hold an online book club. And they can invite the author along to the discussion.

It's an interesting idea. I know several indie authors who have had a great time talking to book clubs. I also know one or two who have reported clubs shall we say taking liberties in expecting freebies. One would hope that a formal platform would cover those arrangements and avoid difficult conversations.

One interesting point is the way the founders of BookClub deliberately position themselves in relation to Goodreads. On the one hand this is obvious, and allows them to talk about interactivity and video and the things Goodreads is really bad at. On the other hand, Goodreads is really bad at everything. And positioning in relation to them is obvious. So it might be an indication that the founders don’t get why Goodreads is bad or just how bad. And that wouldn’t end well.

Happy Birthday TNPS

Doesn’t time fly? I am sure I remember Mark Williams launching The New Publishing Standard just the other month. In the three years since that launch, Mark has made the site a must-visit for anyone interested in a truly global perspective on the book world. Mark has been particularly instrumental in chronicling the rise of audio subscription platforms like Storytel. And for those of us who’ve known Mark more than three years, it’s no surprise that the site is a wealth of information for anyone really wanting to “go wide”.

I’ve shared lots of this kind of story from Mark over the past three years. But the other area The New publishing Standard has really brought to light is the giant book market. Not the Frankfurter Buchmesse kind of Fair. But rather the warehouse sized physical markets where hundreds of thousands of visitors can purchase millions of books at a time over a period of many days. Before TNPS, I still thought Big Bad Wolf was something that huffed and puffed. Or at the most a Dr Who reference.

What reporting like this is essential for is making us realise just how limited or parochial our view of “the book business” can be. And once our horizons are expanded, endless new opportunities start to suggest themselves. Talking of undermentioned parts of the indie universe, Passive Guy this week highlighted this really great look at just how extensive the indie romance scene is. It asks the rather pertinent question why we don't here more about it.

The Future of Bookstores

The future of bookstores is a perennial topic, like the death of the novel. During the pandemic we've had endless hot takes on the subject. Two of the most salient things for me in this recent time have been these. First, book sales have not really fallen during the pandemic. If anything sales have grown. But those sales have not come through bookstores. And that is really worrying. Because in many industries there are customers waiting to return to the shops. But when it comes to books, it seems those customers have found other places to buy. Getting them back is going to be a real challenge. This piece in Publishers Weekly about the need for sales not hope is very timely.

And while we're on this subject, it is always important to get the latest from James Daunt. So Mike Shatzkin's piece which thoroughly takes apart and analyses what Daunt has to say about Barnes and Noble is invaluable. This line really stood out “I would not be dashing out to buy shares if they were still available.” Indeed.

Amazon Prime Day

It feels like a no-brainer to put a story about Amazon Prime Day next to one about the future of bookstores. Amazon Prime Day this year has moved to October 13-14 (it's a 48 hour day). That obviously puts it close to Black Friday. But in terms of sales, Amazon Prime Day far outstrips Black Friday. Last year it shifted 175 million items to Amazon's 150 million Prime customers. Those numbers are eye watering. And for those of us who are Amazon sellers, it's something to think about. That many people. Loitering on Amazon. Wanting to buy.

BookClub is a new platform that seeks to bring authors into readers' discussions, and top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy… Click To Tweet

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Help us fill this with great online events in the coming weeks and months.

Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) – Zoom meetings the 2nd Saturday of each month


Frankfurter Buchmesse, 14-18 Oct [Frankfurt/online]

Over to You

Let us know about online events of interest to indies in the comments below.

Author: Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, which has appeared at festivals and fringes from Manchester to Stoke Newington. In 2010 he was the winner of the 100th episode of the international spoken prose event Literary Death Match, and earlier this year he competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transparency-Sutures-Dan-Holloway-ebook/dp/B01A6YAA40


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