Original Article Released in the 2012 Book Club 101 Magazine Summer Edition
An avid book reader should not be discouraged if there is not a physical book club in their area. Just like books are moving to e-readers, virtual book clubs are also becoming more popular. A member can enjoy similar benefits of a physical book club just in a virtual environment. However, is there really a difference between a physical book club and virtual book club?
Technology has rapidly advanced over the past few years. No longer do we live in a world totally dependent on a human being’s contribution, but many tasks are being performed by computers eliminating the need for human or physical contact.
Technological maturity, communication and dedication are key elements to successfully manage and/or participate in an online book club.
Since the majority of the communication is performed online, the virtual club member should evaluate and be comfortable with their technological skills. Tutorials are available for most programs. Practice does make perfect.
Communication is absolutely vital to any organization. For a virtual book club, the level of communication may determine the success or failure of the book club. Since there are a lot of communication choices available, there is no reason a virtual member should not stay connected with other members of the club. Although a book club member may be slow to speak or attempt to hide behind the virtual barrier, this should not interfere with their ability to participate. Some people are easily distracted by facial expressions or attitudes of others. If you are participating in a virtual environment, this should not be a hindrance. Whether it is via conference call, text, email, video conference, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Skype, etc.) or other communication applications, communication should not be an issue.
Carmela Hicks is the site leader for the SistahFriend Book Club Virtual Branch and a book club member of a few location based book clubs in Huntsville, AL.
Virtual book clubs can be very convenient and cost effective. A book club member does not have to leave their home to participate and reside anywhere in the world. This may significantly reduce costs associated with face-to-face meetings because the costs of travel, refreshments, or meeting space are essentially eliminated. Since a member can attend from any location, planning or scheduling disruptions may be limited. Also, if a member is unable to participate in a monthly book discussion, the meeting can be recorded and distributed for playback purposes.
The number of virtual book club members can be both an advantage and disadvantage. The advantage is a club is not limited to a set number of participants and many book club members can be online simultaneously. However, it may be difficult to ensure all members have the same amount of speaking time with a large online book club.
The only major difference between the physical and virtual book club is the interaction. Participation guidelines and book club regulations can still be administered. Although it may be easier to develop a bond with a face-to-face meeting, planned getaways can be incorporated into the book club’s calendar. This will allow the members of the book club to occasionally see each other as well as strengthen the invisible connection.
So for the reader, who is looking to interact with a book club and simply cannot commit to the constraints of a physical book club, they may want to explore the possibilities of either starting or participating in an online book club.
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