To increase awareness of writers of color and bring more diverse patrons into bookstores, the American Booksellers Association hosts Well-Read Black Girl book clubs in member locations.
What’s the great idea? Book club meetings at independent bookstores for diverse readers, focusing on writers of color.
Who’s doing it? The American Booksellers Association.
What’s involved? ABA has partnered with Well-Read Black Girl host Glory Edim to use its independent bookstore members as the sites of book clubs reading books by emerging diverse authors. Joy Dallanegra-Sanger, ABA senior program officer, had the idea after attending a talk by Edim, who runs a popular book club and literary festival.
She was wowed by Edim’s presentation. “I noticed, in the audience, there were a number of women who wanted to find a place to do what [Edim] was doing but didn’t know how,” Dallanegra-Sanger says. That’s when the partnership was born. Edim selects books, and ABA member stores provide space for readers to discuss them. “It’s getting more diverse populations into the store,” Dallanegra-Sanger says. ABA hopes attendees become regular customers.
In the program, Edim makes three selections monthly: one hardback debut, one paperback for price-conscious book clubbers, and one children’s or young adult book (a request by ABA members). “There are a lot of children’s stores or stores with children’s departments who want to do a mother-daughter or mother-child book club,” Dallanegra-Sanger says.
Stores sign up through ABA’s member site. Information about each host store is published for readers on ABA’s public-facing site, Indiebound.org, and the store receives promotional material. Edim’s publisher (she’s an author, too) “created a display case for us, so that the stores have some materials to market it,” Dallanegra-Sanger says.
What are people saying? The program was announced in January and stores were expected to start hosting in May, but some booksellers couldn’t wait and held meetings earlier. ABA received numerous queries from readers who’d heard about the program and wanted to participate but didn’t see a host store in their area. ABA has happily connected those readers with the nearest member store.
[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled “Go Book Clubbing."]