Would You Like An Author To Visit Your Book Club?

by |January 30, 2014

A peculiar thing has begun to occur at Book Clubs in New York. Yes, you can enjoy the same cheap wine and soft cheese. But a new member is joining.

The author.

As discussed in The New York Times yesterday, a new service called Book The Writer is offering book clubs the opportunity to have the author present at their book club for around $750. You could ask Winner of the Women’s Prize of Fiction A.M. Homes who her most detestable brother is in May We Be Forgiven. Pester Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Cunningham about Nicole Kidman’s casting in the adaptation of his novel The Hours. Or even just tell Zoe Heller how amazing Notes on a Scandal was.


The practice of authors visiting book clubs to offer insight into their work isn’t anything new. For as long as there have been bookstores there have been author visits and readings, and invariably this evolved into book clubs of sorts. The biggest change to reading-writer interaction has come via social media where, instead of waiting in line for hours to have an author smile and sign their copy, readers are now able to interact over twitter and Facebook with their favourites. The thought of Salman Rushdie attending a Google Hangout is both incredibly exciting and incredibly strange at the same time.

The biggest risk the Book The Writer concept presents is endangering the reader’s right to their own interpretation of a novel, a factor that has ensured the survival of book clubs for years. Remember that friend who thought Yossarian had died and was actually stuck in purgatory in Catch-22? Imagine Joseph Heller taking a large chunk of their beetroot dip and telling them they were wrong all along. Sometimes it can be the holes in novels that excite us, that we fill with our imagination that binds a story together for us. Will we be able to enjoy the same freedom with an author filling those ambiguous moments for us?

Of course, having an author at your book club will lead to this, which like everything in Annie Hall, can only be a good thing…

What do you think? Would you be interested in having the author come to your book club? I know a guy…

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About the Contributor

Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.

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  • January 31, 2014 at 9:30 am

    ah, yes, we’ve discussed it and got really excited though with the amount of money required to purchase their attendance, it became totally moot. Most of us have mortgages or a poor student and having to pay an author to enjoy their company or insights is not on the top of budget.

    We can only dream… one day…

  • February 1, 2014 at 7:30 am

    I like the idea. Although I’d be selective. I want an author to respect how I have filled in the gaps, not correct me. That’s what is exciting about writing and reading, it’s a relationship, an exchange.
    And as an author I be into going to local book clubs. But I wouldn’t charge at Pulitzer rates!

  • February 12, 2014 at 5:09 am

    Thanks for a very interesting post! As an author I love visiting bookclubs, which I started doing a year or so ago, and wrote a short post about this experience:

    However, being an unknown indie author, I don’t charge a cent (except a free glass of wine!), but am more than satisfied with building a readership one-on-one, through bookclubs.

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