Bringing Book Clubs Online

Resources for digital book clubs

September 3, 2019

OverDrive supports library-driven digital book clubs through publisher negotiation and marketing materials.
OverDrive supports library-driven digital book clubs through publisher negotiation and marketing materials.

Libraries support countless book clubs, both formal and informal. With increasing digital engagement, digital lending models for ebooks and audiobooks offer opportunities for book clubs to expand, and online platforms can bring together community members who couldn’t otherwise participate. These three companies offer resources and products to help libraries engage readers with digital book clubs.

OverDrive Digital Book Clubs

Libraries that have digital collections from OverDrive are automatically part of the company’s global ebook club, the Big Library Read, which makes select titles available for unlimited checkouts for a limited period three times a year. In addition to this large-scale reading program, the company also provides support for community-wide and regional book clubs like “One Book, One City.”

After a library provides information on its planned programming, including program dates, budget, and estimated number of checkouts, OverDrive will negotiate with publishers to secure discounted, short-term digital lending rights for the chosen title. Depending on the library’s needs, the terms may be for simultaneous use for a set period, with pricing based on population, or bulk discounts on single-user licenses. Some publishers may require a minimum order for discounts to apply. Publishers that have recently provided rights to bestselling and award-winning titles include Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, and W. W. Norton.

The book club title will be displayed prominently on the library’s OverDrive digital collection homepage along with custom messaging about the program during the book club’s run. The company also curates a collection of read-alike titles. OverDrive makes marketing templates available and can create customized print and online marketing materials to promote some programs.

Patrons can access book club titles through the Libby app or download them to an e-reader or other device. Titles expire automatically once the book club has concluded.

Digital book club support is free to libraries that already have an OverDrive account. For more information, visit

ODILO Book Club

For those who can’t make it to book clubs in person, ODILO has introduced a fully online platform, ODILO Book Club. Books can be selected from ODILO’s collection of 2 million titles or imported from the library’s own digital collections. Readers access titles through ODILO’s Nubereader online reader, which allows them to highlight sections, annotate text, make comments visible to the rest of the book club for discussion, and share quotes to the club or to their own social media accounts.

ODILO Book Club provides an online platform for communal reading and discussion.
ODILO Book Club provides an online platform for communal reading and discussion.

The book club’s homepage is customizable with tabs, links, and summaries to entice potential readers to join the club and to encourage participation by members. Book club moderators set reading milestones, schedule live video chats, and facilitate discussion on the forums. Users can create bookmarks, share quotes, and annotate the text. Email notifications automatically alert members to new activity, discussions, and upcoming milestones. Book club members are also able to add milestones and other events to their personal calendars.

From the club homepage, users can review past and current book selections. Users can also access statistics on their reading time, the last time they read, and the percentage of the book they’ve finished.

Library staffers can act as the book club moderator or assign limited moderator privileges to a community member, educator, or student.

Pricing is based on the number of simultaneous book clubs and users per club, with options for unlimited clubs and users. For more information, visit

A Reading Hub

Tom West
Tom West

User: Tom West, adult services coordinator, Brazoria County (Tex.) Library System
Product: hoopla Book Club Hub
Description: The hoopla Book Club Hub spotlights one book each quarter, providing resources including discussion guides, author interviews, and recommended next reads.

How does your library use the hoopla Book Club Hub?
We have 12 libraries, and each of them has a book club—some more than one. We have a wide variety throughout our libraries: teen book clubs, history book clubs, first-time author book clubs. I encourage clubs to keep hoopla in mind when they’re making selections, and I can also direct clubs to Book Club Hub, which provides resources like discussion materials for their spotlight titles.

How does the Book Club Hub serve your library’s needs?
In addition to providing unlimited-access books and book club resources, hoopla also hosted an event at our Pearland branch library with a local author whose title was featured on the hoopla Book Club Hub. We reached a lot of new people in the community through that event and hoopla’s promotion of that particular title. Getting people to listen to it or read it and then come and talk to the author was really nice.

What are the main benefits?
One of the big benefits is its ease of use. The price is based on usage, so you have more than half a million titles and you pay for only what patrons check out. That opens up such big possibilities for us. And then obviously, if you had a title that was a little bit more obscure, it might be hard to obtain enough physical copies. There was a quilting guild that was interested in starting a book club. In the past, I’ve had trouble getting enough print copies for such a large group, so I demonstrated the hoopla app for them. They were interested in mostly inspirational fiction, and hoopla has both the ebook and the audiobook for a lot of inspirational titles.

What would you like to see improved or added to the service?
Right now, hoopla has discussion guides and materials on the main book club selection, but it’d be nice for some of the alternate recommended titles to have some resources, too. But I know that’s a lot of work—there are a lot of titles—and they’ve done an amazing job so far with their selections.


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