By August 19, 2010 2 Comments Read More →

Read, Discuss, and Skype

At last month’s meeting of the Adult Reading Round Table, two librarians from the Park Ridge (IL) Public Library shared information about how they included a Skype session as part of a recent book discussion.  The book they’d chosen for discussion was Lottery, by Patricia Wood, and when they announced the selection on the library’s web site, the author contacted them and offered to join the program via Skype.  The librarians felt this would be a great opportunity for their group members and agreed to proceed.

The library didn’t have a Skype account, but once that was accomplished, it was relatively easy to set up the meeting room where the discussion would be held, using a laptop computer to connect with Wood.  One concern the librarians had was how much time to devote to the author conversation versus the discussion of the book, and they stressed that this is a consideration that should be worked out with the group in advance.

The only real problem they encountered was the need to keep moving the laptop during the program so that all members of the discussion group could see the screen.  This was somewhat awkward, with the group seated in its usual configuration, a circle around a large table.  Wires kept getting pulled and tangled, and there was apprehension that the connection would be broken.  Next time — if there is one — the librarians plan to invest in an inexpensive webcam, which they feel will be more efficient.  They indicated that the book group seemed to really enjoy the Skype conversation.  “The participants had a lot of questions for the author about the book, and she was very forthcoming about providing answers,” they said.

Just wondering — have any other book groups out there tried Skyping with authors during book discussions?  Let me know whom you contacted and if you thought it was worth the effort.



About the Author:

Ted Balcom lives in Arlington Heights, IL and conducts workshops on leading book discussions, about which he has also published a book: Book Discussions for Adults: A Leader’s Guide (American Library Association, 1992).

2 Comments on "Read, Discuss, and Skype"

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  1.' Alex says:

    At least one of our book clubs has used Skype so an author could participate in the discussion. While we do have a web cam attached, we didn’t use the camera feature during the event – mainly for the reasons you listed. Instead, the group focused on the author’s words. By all accounts, it was a success!

  2.' Ann says:

    My book group at my library Skyped in with Selden Edwards, author of the novel The Little Book. I had a portable projector so I could project his image so everyone could see it, and a webcam so he could see us, but it was still tricky. From the author’s perspective, we were looking up past him as we naturally looked at his image to chat! The author saw that we were reading his book and got in touch with us. He was a total delight and it was a great event for the club.

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