Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Staging a Book Club Coup

Is it ever OK to stage a coup within your own book club? And, if yes, how does one go about it with stealth? Let me set the scene. I joined my local book club about two years ago. Up until then I was a book club virgin, so I had little experience with how such a club should function. For the first 6 months or so I seemed to really enjoy myself. The fact that we talked more about ourselves than the actual books we’d read didn’t appear to bother me. On reflection I think this was only because I was getting to know my fellow book club members. Well, that combined with a perceived duty of politeness. I was the newcomer. Who was I to question how the book club operated? Two years down the track and the meaningless gossip is starting to drive me mad. So much so, that I’ve actually missed the last two meetings with no legitimate excuse. It’s a book club. We’re supposed to talk about books!

I’m not the only one in the club feeling the stress of it all. In fact, I think a good 50% of the club are in total agreement with me. Outside of the book club meetings, we’ve often mused over how we think the book club should be run and why it doesn’t seem to work. What we all know for sure is that it’s a leadership issue. The original group broke in two about 4 years ago due to a drunken episode complete with racial slurs at a restaurant held book club meeting. A new organiser for the group was required and when no-one else put their hand up our current leader came to the rescue. But she never reads the book! Yes, I know how ridiculous it sounds, but it’s true. The organiser reads about 3 of the 12 books we choose every year. Do you know how frustrating that is? Arghhhhhhhhhhhhh… wonder we only talk about books for 10 minutes.

But it’s not just the fact that the organiser doesn’t read the book that bugs me. It’s the fact that there is never any guide to our book discussion. There are generally three or four conversations operating at once, so everyone is talking over the top of one another. And discussion questions - you’d think no-one had ever heard of them. Plus, there is never any clear communication about what book we’re reading next or what the next date for the club is. One month it’s a Wednesday night, the next it’s a Monday night. I can’t keep up!! I mean, what happened to planning, people?

Enough is enough. I have a few fellow members on my side and we are going in with purpose to the next book club meeting. Any tips you might have would be useful. Wish me luck.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Twitter Finally Comes Through

It was with hesitation that I opened my account on Twitter some 12 months ago. Skeptical is the word that comes to mind. But buoyed by the encouragement of a fellow small business owner, I decided to embrace this new social networking craze. After all it could turn out to be an interesting, and hopefully lucrative, way to promote my second hand bookstore. I started out enthusiastically building my list of followers, but my eagerness fizzled as the weeks rolled by with little Twitter action despite lots of effort. Over time, the annoying tweet noise from TweetDeck served only to remind me that another seemingly useless piece of information was heading my way. One year on and I was well and truly jaded. Sure, I got the occasional tasty morsel of information, and as far as networking with like-minded people in the trade it proved handy, but on the whole it was a dud. Yesterday, I decided to pull the plug and end the misery!!

And I almost did! One last visit to TweetDeck proved it's saviour. After months of fruitlessly searching for a book titled 'Little Dream' by Cynthia Leonetti for a new client with no success, Twitter finally came through for me. One of my esteemed followers located a copy, and the next thing I know I had completed a transaction and the book was on its' way to my client. The profit for me was very little, but the buzz I got out of actually locating this hard-to-find kids book was definitely worth it. Whilst, this one transaction hardly makes up for the effort I've put into Twitter it has reminded me of the value of keeping your feelers out there. Second hand bookselling is often a tough business and locating rare books can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. It's fun, but frustrating at the same time and without a good network of contacts it's almost impossible. So, whilst I am not exactly pro-Twitter I do acknowledge that it won't hurt to keep my presence out there.....even if it only helps me please one customer every twelve months.