How Do Your Readers Get Their Books?

Here’s an idea for a month when your group doesn’t have much time to devote to reading. Instead of discussing a book, spend a meeting exploring how you get your books. In preparation, ask each member to select a different source of books and come to the group ready to report on it. These sources might include specific libraries or branches, bookstore locations, online booksellers, or e-reader companies. If you have several readers who would like to report on the same location, send them to different departments: fiction and nonfiction, the library and the library’s shelf of books for sale, and so on. Questions to consider might include:

  • What kinds of books is the provider most able to deliver? What kinds of titles tend to be less available?
  • How economical are books at the place where you get them?
  • Take a list of the last six books that your group discussed. How many of them are available through this vendor? How many copies were on hand?
  • Did you enjoy the browsing experience?
  • If you could not find a book or advice on a book selection, was a person or information available to help you? Was the quality of this service good?
  • Did the bookseller or library offer other services for book groups? Do they host any book groups themselves, or offer table or rooms for groups that need a meeting space?
  • If a book was not immediately on hand, did the bookseller or library offer other means of obtaining it? If so, how long would the wait be?

These seem like rather obvious questions, but we all tend to get set in our ways, using only one or two sources to obtain reading materials. Taking a meeting to explore other options for obtaining books can be very enlightening. If you prefer, you could also spread this discussion over several meetings, discussing one library or bookseller at the beginning or end of discussion each month.

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About the Author:

Neil Hollands is an Adult Services Librarian at Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia, where he specializes in readers’ advisory and collection development. He is the author of Read On . . . Fantasy Fiction (2007) and Fellowship in a Ring: a Guide for Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Groups (2009).

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