Are you interested in starting a book club online? Do you want to learn what it takes to run a book club successfully? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a book club for kids with little money and no experience.
Okay, so we have provided you an in-depth sample book club business plan template. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample book club marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for book clubs. In this article, we will be considering all the requirements for starting a book club online. So put on your entrepreneurial hat and let’s proceed.
If you have ever wondered how some folks could ever start a book club and run it successfully, then you may also have wondered why they started in the first place. Book clubs is basically all about a group of people coming together to discuss a book or books that they have read or the books they are currently reading.
Why Start a Book Club Online?
One of the importance of this is the fact that it helps to promote the culture of reading and exercising the brain at all times. In some cases, there may be the scenario where the people have to contribute some amount of money, so as to meet up with some needs. Some of these needs might be for entertainment purpose. To purchase a book or books and what have you.
In the United States of America for instance; it is true that Americans are crazy about books. This is no wonder that there are several book clubs scattered here and there. The time book clubs started in America can really not be placed, however, one thing is for sure; and that is the point that it serves a great deal in helping people broaden their horizon, as well as make them become better individuals.
Book clubs have made an impact twice in the American history. They are; during the 18th and 19th century, when book clubs were formed for the purposes of discussion and debate. First and foremost was the Junto – a literary society formed by Benjamin Franklin in 1726. There was also the Cadmus Club of Galesburg, Ill., founded in 1895 for the promotion of good fellowship, good reading, and literary works of local interest. In the late 20th century, there became a modernized way of running book clubs. We therefore saw the advent of on-line clubs, as well as the Oprah Winfrey’s televised club, amongst others.
Starting a Book Club Online for Kids – A Complete Guide
- Industry Overview
In a recent research that was conducted in America, it was found that approximately 63,000 publishers with annual sales of less than $50 million generate collective sales of $14.2. The revenue is put at between $23.7 billion and $28.5 billion.
In the 20th century, we have come to see that old way of running book clubs changed, and as such we can now see book clubs as an organization that promotes then sale of books. Some of the popular book clubs in America, are the Book-of-the-Month Club, the paperback book club, Quality Paperback Books, and the Literary Guild, amongst others not mentioned here.
Book clubs have different interests, and some of these interests include; cooking, gardening, science fiction, computers, as well as audio books. These days there are loads of online book clubs springing up. There are many online clubs. For instance; the Progressive Book Club and Women of Faith are the types of clubs that exist online. These types of clubs provide its members with demographics, whilst other clubs, like those of independent bookstores, provide members with special editions of books.
It can be therefore said that book clubs might not be on the rise, as it ought to be, but isn’t declining either. We can then say it is stagnant. However, the number of people who are in the trade are being encouraged.
If you have always been a type of person who likes to get people aware about information, or you have the view to run a scholastic book club, where people can always stay informed, then one of the ways to go about it would be to start a book club. It doesn’t have to be an everyday thing. You and your members can choose to make it a once in a week kind of thing or a once in a month kind of meeting. The whole idea is to promote reading culture.
Starting a Book Club Online – Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
There are various age groups that patronize the services of book clubs. There are book clubs designed specifically for teens, for children and of course for adult. If you intend starting a book club, you have a wide range of people to service; your book club could be designed based on age group, it could be designed based on interest and profession, it could be designed based on religion and belief. The demography for book club is not limited as long as you can attract people of similar interest.
- List of Niche ideas Within the Book Club Industry
These are some of the niches you can find in the book club industry;
- Fiction Book Clubs
- Non – Fiction Book Clubs
- Religious Book Clubs
- Teens Book Clubs
- Children Book Clubs
- Academic Book Clubs
- Online Book Clubs
- Gender Based Book clubs
- Book Club (Radio)
Please note that this industry is flexible and with creativity, you can create your own niche e.g. (cooking, gardening, science fiction, computers, and books in recorded audio formats)
- The Level of Competition in the Book Club Industry
The truth is that, there is little or no competition in this industry. If you start a book club, you have to package it in such a way that you can easily attract people of like minds to join your book club. The challenge involved in starting a book club is that you are not going to have to compete with other book clubs if there is any around your locations, but you will be contending with factors like social media, sports and other area of interest that distract people from reading.
List of Well – Known Brands in the Book Club Industry
Over the years, there are several book clubs that have emerged in America. Whilst some have done badly, yet others have done tremendously well. These are some of the leading book clubs in the United States of America;
- The Readers Club of America
- Reader’s Circle
- The Book-of-the-Month Club
- The Paperback book club
- Quality Paperback Books
- The Literary GuildBook Divas
- Book Lovers of Gainesville
- Bookmarks & Barstools
- Books & Bars
- Bradford Book Discussion
- Breakfast Book Club
- Crack Spine Book Club
- Delicious Reads
- Dusty Book Jacket Society
- Happy Bookers—MD
- Ladies of Literature
- Ladies of the Lake
- Literature Group
- Lit Wits (PA-NJ)
- MCC Reads Downtown
- Random Readers
- Readers Roundtable
- Reading Btw the Wines
- Revenue Readers
- Zodiac Book Group
Your decision to start a book club should be driven by your love for books and to contribute your quarter towards encouraging the habit of reading in your community. If you are not driven by these factors, you might get frustrated along the way.
It is cheaper to start and to run a book club, but you have to be creative if you want to make money out of your book club. Aside from the membership fee you will collect from people who want to join your book club, you would have to design strategies on how to generate income from members of your book club and from other related areas.
If you want to make money from your book club, then you should consider starting a sales book club; with a sales book club, you will be able to sell books at a discount price to your members and of course your members will be the first set of people to get newly released books from your stable.
- Starting a Book Club from Scratch Vs Buying a Book Club Franchise
It is good to start a business from the scratch; however, it is also good to buy a franchise. If you are looking towards starting a book club, you are left with one option – to start from the scratch. There are no franchises for book clubs for now. Besides it is not a difficult task to start a book club from the scratch. All you need is determination and focus.
- Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face When Starting a Book Club
Before starting a book club, you should be aware that reading culture amongst youths is on the decline and getting people to register in your book club is perhaps one of the major challenges that you are likely going to face.
Other threats and challenges that you are going to face is generating enough finance to run the book club, retaining or increasing membership et al.
Starting a Book Club – Legal Matters
- Best Legal entity to use for a Book Club
Starting a book club is more of a hobby thing than a business. You can only run it as a full scale business when you choose to start a sales book club; a club that sells books at a highly discounted price to its members. Other than that, you can decide to start your book club as a sole proprietor.
In essence the best legal entity to use for your book club is a sole proprietorship. But if you want to start a sales book club, then you should look towards adopting Limited Liability Company; an LLC / Limited Liability Partnership; an LLP. These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your book club, if you want to run it as a business; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners and investors’ expectation and of course taxes.
- Some Catchy Names You Can Adopt for Your Book Club
One of the rules for choosing a name for a business as book club is considering your own name first. As such, if your name is Alice Joe, you may consider naming your book club- Alice Joe’s Book Club or Alice Joe’s Literature Club. If conversely you do not want your name to be a part of it, then you can consider choosing one or more of these names below;
- Rosenberg Community Book Club
- Future Generation Book Clubs (Teens and Children’s book club)
- Lovers of Jesus Book Club
- Ladies and Gents Book Club
- Melinda and Friends Book Group
- Books and Fun Club
- Inner City Book Club
- Like – Minds Lit Club
- Maslow’s Book Club
- Spelean Literature club
The Best Insurance Needed for a Book Club
It is very vital that you start a book club with the right insurance policies in place. The fact that starting a business club is more of a hobby than business, does not mean that if you have one or two employees that you won’t purchase insurance cover. As a matter of fact, if you register your book club or if you choose to run a sales book club, then you should be ready to purchase insurance covers.
You can consult your insurance broker to advice you on the appropriate insurance policies to buy. This is very important because they are the best folks to relate with when such a situation happens. They are in the best position to give you such advice.
Here are some of the basic insurance covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own book club in the United States of America;
- General insurance
- Health insurance
- Liability insurance
- Workers compensation
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
Getting Intellectual Property Protection for your Book Club
Protecting your brain child is really of essence. This is so that you can be able to punish offenders once they breach the law concerning your property. Ordinarily if you choose to run a book club just for the sake of encouraging people to read, then you won’t have to bother yourself in filing for intellectual property protection. The truth is that, there is actually no intellectual property to protect.
The only reason why you would need intellectual property protection for your book club is if you are into a sales book club and you are the author / publisher of the book. If you are an author, then you should be familiar with intellectual property protection. Authors are among the top beneficiaries of intellectual property protection.
- Do You Need Professional Certification for a Book Club
It is true that it is very vital that you get certified in the area you want to operate in. Good news however is that if you want to start a book club, you do not need any professional certification. All you need to get started is the ability to convince people of like mind to join your book club, your ability to manage a book club and of course your creativity. No doubt you will need a good dose of creativity to be able to retain members of your book clubs and of course to attract new members.
- List of Legal Documents You Need to Run a Book Club
No one embarks on a business mission without doing all the legal ground work. This is of essence so that you do not get clamped down by then appropriate authorities. These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to run your own book club in the United States of America;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License
- Business Plan
- Non – disclosure Agreement
- Employment Agreement (offer letters for book sale club with printing press / publishing house)
- Operating Agreement for LLCs (Suitable for Sales Book Club)
- Insurance Policy
- Grand Rules / Membership Policy Document
Writing a Business Plan for your Book Club
Whether you choose to start a sales book club or a conventional book club / book group, you would need a business plan to be able to effectively run the book club. A Business plan is the blue print of your business; it is a business document that can aid you to successfully set up a business and also administer / manage the business. It is not enough to just write a business plan for the sake of writing one, your business plan should be able to pass reality check; you must put relevant facts, figures and statistics into consideration when writing your business plan.
The truth is that, the main aim of writing a business plan is not just for the sake of having a business document in place; but to have a detail guide on how to effectively set – up, run and manage your business. Your business plan should outline and cover strategies on how you intend to operate your book club.
When writing your business plan, ensure that you are moderate when it comes to setting projections on income generation et al. It is better to be on the safer side which is why when you are calculating your future income.
These are some key factors that you should also consider when drafting your business plan;
- Executive summary and your book club descriptions: you are expected to write about the concept of your business, descriptions of your company, your company’s vision statement, and mission statement, where your company will be located, how you intend getting people to become members of your book club and perhaps why people should pick – up membership in your book club.
- Other key components that should not be missing in your book club business plan are your genre (niche), SWOT analysis, marketing and sales analysis / strategies, costing and financial projection, management techniques, expansion strategies, publicity and advertising strategy, budget and start – up capital generation (If you are interested in going into book sales and publications) et al.
How Much Does It Cost to Start a Book (Sales) Club
Book clubs generally require minimal start – up capital, all you would need money for is to register the book club, secure a venue where your members will be meeting, purchase the first supply of books, prepare membership pack and promote your book club (both online and off – line).
The only reason why you would spend more is when you choose to start a book sales club; that is if you choose to go into authoring book, publishing books and selling books. It means that you would have to set – up a printing press (it is optional though). When it comes to starting a small scale book sales club, the following expenditure should guide you;
- The Total Fee for incorporating the Book club in the United States – $750.
- The budget for Liability insurance, permits and license – $2,500
- The Amount needed to acquire a suitable Office facility that can accommodate your printing press if you choose to have one (Re – Construction of the facility inclusive) – $10,000.
- The Cost for equipping the office; setting up a printing press (computers, printers, fax machines, furniture, telephones, filing cabins, safety gadgets and electronics et al) – $15,000
- The Cost of Launching your official Website: $600
- Cost of acquiring the first supply of books: $500
- Budget for paying at least two employees for 3 months and utility bills : $10,000
- Additional Expenditure (Business cards, Signage, Adverts, brochures and Promotions et al): $2,500
- Miscellaneous: $1,000
Going by the report from the research and feasibility studies, you will need less than $50,000 to set up a small scale book sales club in the United States of America You will need over a hundred thousand U.S. dollars to successfully set – up a medium scale book sales club in the United States.
If you are considering starting a large scale book sales club with standard printing press and qualified employees under your payroll, then you should look towards budgeting well over 500,000 United States Dollars.
Please note that you can get a convenient space / facility for your book club for free from the government or a charity organization if you are able to prove to them that your aim of starting a book club is to encourage reading culture amongst the youths in your community and to discourage them from engaging in crimes or unproductive activities.
- Financing Your Book Sales Club
One thing is certain, if you choose to start a book club in your school or community for the sake of encouraging reading culture and to network with like minds, then you may not have to stress yourself to source for capital to finance the book club; you can finance such book club from your pocket and then make use of the membership fee to pay rent for the venue you choose to meet with members of your reading / book club.
On the hand, if you choose to start a book sales club; then you should source for money to launch the business. No doubt starting a standard printing press cum publishing house is not cheap. So it is important that you get your acts together and then go out to source for the required start – up capital. Good enough you can get some of the latest large scale printing machines and spread the payment for a period of time. It will take away financial pressure from off your shoulder.
The rule of thumb when it comes to financing a business is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan in place, you may not have to labor hard before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business; with a good business plan and good managerial skills, they can tell if their investment will be safe under your watch.
Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for start – up capital for your book sales club / print press (publishing house);
- Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Raising money from investors and business partners
- Sell shares to interested investors
- Applying for loan from your bank / banks
- Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
- Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
Securing a Location for Your Book Club
Book club and location! Truly there is no hard and fast rule about the location to choose for your book club. Some of the basic things that you need to consider before choosing a location for your book club are;
The serenity of the location – since what you want to do is to encourage people of like minds to come together to read books and share their thoughts, then you must endeavor to choose a location that is devoid of noise and disturbance. A quiet environment like campus, public or private library et al is suitable locations for book club.
Another factor that you should consider when sourcing for a location for your book club is the demography of the location. If you want to start a book club for teens and children, then you should not consider pitching your tent in an environment meant for old and retired people. You best bet is to choose an estate where upwardly mobile couples that are still raising their children can be found.
Lastly, if you have plans of starting a book sales club with a standard printing press, then you should look towards securing a facility in a commercial center. Your concern should not be about getting a serene environment or residential area et al. because you are likely not going to get permits from the local authority to build a printing press. Print press generates noise.
Starting a Book Club – Technical & Manpower Details
Ideally, if you choose to run a normal book club with the main aim of encouraging and promoting reading culture, you may not have need for full time employee. You can run the book club alongside volunteers. But if you want to start a book sales club, then you should be prepared to set up a normal business structure.
Setting up a business structure for this type of business means that you employ sales and marketing executives, graphic artists, machine operators (printing machines), editors (you can outsource this role) and of course a manager (you can handle this role). On the average, you will need a minimum of 10 employees to run a book sales club with a standard printing press / publishing house.
As regards, the equipment, you would need computers, printing machines, paper cutters, paper binders, shredding machines and supply of inks et al. Good enough you can set up your printing press with a fairly used equipment. The challenge is that they might not have same life span with brand new printing press equipment but you can be rest assured that it is cheaper and it will serve you for a while until you are ready to acquire brand new printing press equipment.
To be on a safer side, if you have the finance you can lease a facility as against renting for short period of time if you want to set up a book sales club with a printing press. You will have the opportunity of re – structuring the facility to fit into your design.
But if you are only interested in starting a conventional book club, then renting a facility in serene environment is your best bet. Besides you may have need to change locations from time to time as demanded by members of your book club.
Starting a Book Club – The Marketing Plan
- Marketing ideas and strategies for a book club
Whether you choose to run a book club without actively pursuing the business angel of it, or you choose to run a book sale club that involves active business, you would need to draft a marketing strategy. Marketing your business is one of the best things you can do to make the business grow. This is because there is the need to make your business known by an avalanche of people.
It takes a good marketing idea and strategy for you to be able to convince people to pick up membership in your book club and of course it takes good marketing ideas and strategies for you to be able to sale your books and make profits. Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your book club;
- Introduce your book club by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to your target market
- Advertise your book club in relevant business magazines, radio stations and TV stations (make yourself available for talk shows and interactive sessions on TV and Radios)
- List your book club on yellow pages
- Attend expos, seminars, and book fairs et al
- Create different book formats and packages for different category of clients in order to work with their budgets ( hardcover books, paperback books, hard copies, e – books and audio books)
- Leverage on the internet to promote your book club
Factors That Will Help You Get the Right Product Pricing for a Book Club
If you run a book club, one of the ways of ensuring that you get the right pricing is to work directly with the authors of the books you want your members to read. With that you are likely going to get complimentary copies of their books, and that will in a way help you drive down registration fees and membership fees.
You can also try as much as possible to use more of e – books, it is cheaper and this days easier for people to read. People prefer reading e – books from their mobile device (smartphones, tablets and computers) as against carrying hard copies.
- Possible Competitive Strategies for Winning your Competitors
No doubt it is challenging running a book club but if you are creative, then you can be rest assured that people will join your book club. You can consider introducing stuffs like coffee, free counseling and other related services to encourage people to pick – up membership with your book club.
If you are into book sales club, then you must be willing to sell your books at rock bottom prices; besides book sales club adopt discount and subscription model to sell their books.
- Possible Ways to Increase Customer Retention for Book Club
If you thinking of retaining members of your book and club and also to welcome new members on a regular basis, then you should make your meetings entertaining and educative at the same time. This means that it mustn’t be all about being serious and straight faced. You have got to also make plans to douse the atmosphere.
Furthermore, you have got to take freebies really seriously. Why is this so? This is because people are usually endeared to free stuff. Once in a while you should offer freebies to consistent and committed members of your book club and you can create a reward system to encourage longevity.
- Strategies to Boost your Book Club Brand Awareness
If you are in business and you are deliberate about boosting your brand and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portray your business to be. One of the secret of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend fortunes year in and year out to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity.
If your intention of starting a book club is to grow the book club beyond just a hand full of people and to have a book club brand that is recognized in the whole of the United States of America, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.
In promoting your brand and corporate identity, you should leverage on print and electronic media. As a matter of fact, it is cost effective to use the internet and social media platforms to promote your brands, besides it is pretty much effective and wide reaching.
Another strategy is to sponsor relevant TV and radio programs, advertise your business in magazines and newspapers.
- Creating a Suppliers/Distribution Network for your Book Club
The larger your supply network, the more income that you will make from a book sales club. Authors and publishers know the effect of book sales club and they are adopting the model to sell their books.
Book sales club is all about selling your books at a discounted price by sending it to members who subscribe via mails. So if you are able to encourage more people to subscribe to your book sales club and also to encourage them to pay their subscriptions as at when due, then you won’t have a problem running your book club.
Tips for Running a Book Club Successfully
Although it is relatively easier to start a book club, but the fact remains that it can be truly challenging managing the book club. The reason being that there are loads of activities that are competing for our attention and the internet (social media) is chief amongst the lot.
The only way to get people to read books in this era is to be creative, and also to go out of your way to hype the book via various platforms (social media, radio and TV et al). Remember, it is one thing to get people to read books and it is entire a different kettle of fish to get people to join a book club or to subscribe to a book club.
So, all you need to do to run your book club successfully is to choose a niche (genre of book) that you know is appealing to your target age group cum demography, and the give them various options to meet to review the book. These days loads of people find it easier and convenient to have meetings online. If you are dealing with the internet generation, then you should be able to schedule most of your meetings online. Yes it is good to meet offline, but it will pay you to strike a balance between both.
As the president of your book club, it is your responsibility to continue to improvise and create strategies that will help you retain people that are already members of your book club and also to attract other people to join your book club. Of course you can’t achieve this alone, which is why you should form a team. Forming a team does not mean that you will pay them, but you can have some incentives in place for them. There are loads of people out there who are willing to volunteer for such cause. If you create the right environment, you will surely attract volunteers that can help you build your book club.
To sum up how to successfully manage your book club, you have got to also learn to keep your doors open and welcome suggestions and advice from members of your book club. You can open up a discussion on how to successfully run a book club and you will be so amazed on the quality of advice and ideas you will get.
Finally, it really is a good step in the right direction to start a book club; however, you have got to be very optimistic that your business will grow. Why is this important? This is especially important because you cannot be going into a trade without being optimistic that all will go well. As such, in addition to the ground work and the hard work that you will put in place, you have to be really positive about what you have started.