What started out as a bulletin board tacked with index cards from book club seekers has since transformed into the national reading group networking site Book Club Hub, a project launched by BookBar owner Nicole Sullivan.
“I created Book Club Hub in response to a need I see every day in the store,” said Sullivan, who opened the Denver, Colorado, bookstore in 2013. “We are often asked if we have a book club or know of one for people to join. I thought it would be great to have a matching site that could do this for us. Since none existed, I decided to create one.”
Sullivan sees Book Club Hub as an important means for connecting readers to indie bookstores and is looking for the involvement of independent booksellers who want to encourage reading and book clubs within their own communities. The site currently has 17 independent bookstores registered.
“There has been quite a bit of interest in the site so far,” said Sullivan, who originally shared her plan with booksellers at the “Bookseller ‘Shark Tank’ — Pitch an Idea for Business Expansion” session at Winter Institute 9. “The most common comment I get is, ‘I can’t believe no one has thought about this before,” she explained.
Book Club Hub, which is free for readers, book clubs, and booksellers, matches readers to local book clubs based on their reading interests and goals.
Book clubs that sign up through the site select a local independent bookstore to affiliate with, and bookstores have the option to offer incentives to book clubs, such as discounts on group book orders, free meeting spaces, or snacks and drinks.
Once a book club chooses a bookstore affiliate, the book club’s page begins to feature the bookstore’s logo and links to purchase the selected reads at that independent store.
Sullivan is seeking to further enhance the website and is raising funds for the project through a Kickstarter campaign. The fundraiser, which ends on May 15, aims to add features to the website, including more matching options, tailored recommendations, discussion forums, meeting calendars, and reviews.
“Beyond what the Kickstarter funds will be used for, our plans are to grow the user base of the site for both book clubs and booksellers and, eventually, get to a user base that would support ad sales to publishers in order for the site to at least pay for itself,” said Sullivan.
Visit Book Club Hub to learn more and sign up.