Virtual book club brings author into homes

Mon Aug 29, 2011 5:15am EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The traditional book club has gone virtual, thanks to technology that spans geographic boundaries and can bring authors into readers' living rooms.

Nine book clubs across the United States took part in an hour-long discussion earlier this month with Meg Wolitzer, the best-selling author of the "The Ten-Year Nap," in what is thought to be the first coast-to-coast virtual book club with multiple participants.

"I got a kick out of seeing these women sitting there, in their homes around the country," said Wolitzer who talked about her latest novel, "The Uncoupling."

She admitted that she wasn't sure what to expect during the chat with members of clubs ranging from Austin, Texas to Indian Harbour Beach in Florida and Lorton, Virginia, and felt a bit like the late chess master Bobby Fischer playing nine games of chess at once.

"It was clear that all of these women were passionate and attentive readers," Wolitzer said in an interview. "It was a pretty thoughtful exchange."

Using group video-calling from Skype, the club members and moderator Lesley Jane Seymour, editor-in-chief of More magazine, chatted with Wolitzer about the book.

The magazine teamed up with Skype to sponsor event. The book clubs were selected after entering a competition.

Wolitzer and Seymour sat before a huge monitor that transmitted a live feed from all the book clubs. Instead of just discussing the book, the club members were able to put questions directly to the author, who then responded.   Continued...