By: Monica Kuryla, Director of Innovation Acceleration
The Fayetteville Free Library (FFL) offers an innovative and inexpensive twist on traditional book clubs using Skype. Adding technology to a traditional book discussion is a fantastic way to enhance the book club experience for both the author and book club attendees. The lively conversations that come out of the Skype program add a new level of appreciation of the art of reading and literature. Some of the bestselling authors we have had attend our book club include: Adrianna Trigiani, Jamie Ford, Chris Bohjalian, Lauren Groff, Joyce Maynard, Christina Baker Kline and Mary Kubica.
Our strategy is to research up-and-coming and buzzed about authors that have new books out that are meant to be good for book club discussions. Once we identify the authors we would like to invite, we send a personal email directly to them and invite them to have the opportunity to meet and connect with their readers from the comfort of their own home/wherever they happen to be!
Once the author agrees to join us virtually, we order extra print copies and digital copies of the author’s book for our patrons to enjoy in advance. We have a Goodreads page, so we can invite patrons in advance, highlight upcoming events and start the discussion.
On the day of the event, we start with a 30 min. book discussion with our patrons, then have a 30 min. Skype call with the author, which usually starts with the author providing some basic background and opens up into Q&A. During summer reading times, we have done raffle tickets for each Skype attended and giveaway sign copies of the author’s book (library purchases a copy and mails it to author with a prepaid envelope to send back) and a Kindle Fire as a grand prize for all raffle tickets of combined events.
We try to not only invite authors who write fiction, but non-fiction writers as well. One of our upcoming Skype authors is Nathalia Holt, author of “Rise of the rocket girls: the women who propelled us, from missiles to the moon to Mars”. This book traces the pivotal achievements of the elite female science recruits at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where in the mid-20th century they transformed rocket design and enabled the creations of the first American satellites.
Using technology to connect readers and authors is a wonderful way to bridge the gap of location barriers and is very well received by the community.
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