For the first time, a national survey of book clubs around Australia is being conducted as part of a wider campaign to celebrate and recognise their value, reach and combined brainpower.
The organisers of the annual Clunes Booktown Festival in regional Victoria have established the Book Clubs Hub, a free platform where book club members can share knowledge and book lists; recruit new members; tell their own stories; discover new ways to meet virtually; and connect with authors who are prepared to meet with clubs online or in person.
The Book Clubs Hub survey will provide the first comprehensive overview of Australian book clubs. To assist, book club members are being asked to go to bookclubshub.com and complete a short survey.
The aim of the research is to understand why book clubs are formed, how and where they operate, the value they provide, and how Book Clubs Hub can best support them. The work will also help to identify specific groups that may benefit from new book clubs.
Book Clubs Hub Chair, Leslie Falkiner-Rose said: ‘We know how important book clubs are. Their role in connecting people with ideas and communities has become even clearer during the COVID-19 global pandemic as many clubs have moved to meet online and new clubs have formed.
‘The variety of book clubs in Australia is enormous with genres ranging from cooking, history, biographies, crime and fantasy, literary fiction, queer literature, through to groups that focus on specific authors.
‘There’s even the Tough Guy Book Club, which aims to boost blokes’ conversations in pubs, and the Australian Parliamentary Book Club that asks the public for book suggestions.
‘Club members, who can be any age, know what a vital role their book clubs play in creating and strengthening friendships, broadening minds, amicably challenging members’ views on issues, promoting reading and supporting the book industry.
‘The humble book club has certainly come a long way since the literary reading circles of the 19th century,’ Falkiner-Rose said.
Results of the Book Clubs Hub survey will be available mid-2020. For further information or to complete the survey, visit bookclubshub.com
Book Clubs Hub is supported by a great team of volunteers and funded by Hepburn Shire, Creative Victoria and the Ruffin Falkiner Foundation.