On a clear evening earlier this month, Meg Wolitzer, author of the bestselling novel The Uncoupling, sat down as the guest for Eat, Drink, Read, More magazine’s book club. Wolitzer was greeted in person by the members of Eat, Drink, Read, but she was also welcomed by nine other book groups around the country, participating in the event through Skype.
For the event, More magazine, a women’s lifestyle publication with a readership of more than two million, partnered with Skype, using their Premium Group Video Calling feature, which allows up to 10 people to connect on one video call. “Book clubs and reading are passion points among More readers, who tend to be extremely engaged and love to debate with each other,” said Lesley Jane Seymour, editor in chief of More. “I heard from many of More’s readers that they’d like to get to know the authors that we profile. We thought that partnering with Skype would be a fun and creative way to connect our readers with a high-caliber authors.”
Seymour was together with Wolitzer and members of her book club in one location, while nine other book clubs, in locations from Austin, TX to Shelbyville, TN, participated. More held a contest earlier this summer to select the other groups for participation.
While you might think the large number of participants and the remote locations might lead to some communication issues, the event went off without a hitch. “To avoid any confusion or speaking over one another,” said a Skype spokesperson, “book club members were asked to put their microphones on mute when a member of another club was asking a question or Meg was talking.”
For both book clubs and authors, having events through digital communication technology like Skype is mutually beneficial. “Most writers love to engage with their audience and hear feedback,” Seymour said. “With the help of new forms of technology and social media, writers now have the opportunity to reach their audience in a much more efficient and interesting way. Virtual book clubs are a natural next step for readers and authors.”