After a brief trial, The Book Club Forum was set up in 2005, with a small group of people who wanted to discuss their reading; and ten years later, it’s still going strong.
There have been lots of changes over that time. When I started it up, forums were very popular, both large and small, and competition was fierce. Over time, many of them have disappeared, and I think forums in general have had a bit of bad press. During that time, we’ve also seen the growth of facebook and twitter, and many readers use places like goodreads.
Despite all that, we’re still going, and I hope we still have a lot to offer. However, I have heard lots of comments and concerns about forums recently, so I thought I’d try to address them..
Forums are full of trolls, and there are too many arguments…
This can be true of some forums, but they all have their own moderating team, and that team drives the feel of each forum. The team running BCF are passionate about books, but are also against arguments and personal attacks. We see ourselves as a community who want to share their love of books and reading – debate is welcome, and everyone is entitled to an opinion, but arguments are dealt with quickly. In fact, a comment I hear a lot from members is how safe they feel.
Forums are complicated to use…
Ok, I agree that when you look at a successful forum, it can look a bit intimidating. However, the well run ones will have an introductions section where you can say hi, get to know a few people, and ask questions. There’s usually a help section as well. We indeed have both, and I like to think we’re very welcoming, and can help you settle in. We also don’t mind if you start a new thread or add to an old one, and if you post in the wrong place, we’ll quietly move it for you.
I don’t like registering, and I don’t want to be spammed…
To be honest, most places ask you to register, including facebook and twitter, and the process is usually quick. I understand not wanting to be spammed, but I can assure that in our case, your privacy is important, no one else gets access to your email, and you control any emails you wish to receive from us – you can get notifications of new replies etc if you wish, but that’s something you choose.
There’ll be a lot of book snobs / You won’t discuss the books I read…
I can’t speak for other forums, but that is certainly not true in our forum. Our members read a huge range of books, from chick-lit to horror, historical fiction to SF, fantasy to YA – and everything else in between. The joy of being established for 10 years means that we’ve had time to talk about LOTS of books, so a quick search can often find something. If not, just start a thread about it, and there’s a good chance someone else would have read it, and is ready to chat.
Actually, this takes me back to the ‘complicated’ bit. We have a section, near the top of the forum, where members keep their own records of their reading.. some just keep a list, some make quick comments, and others write reviews. It may not have the prettiness of a goodreads shelf, but our members love reading these records, and they pop in and out to either leave comments, or start discussions about a book. It’s the most social part of our site.
So, you’re almost persuaded? We offer more! My goal over the past few years has been to bring authors and readers together. We have a large selection of interviews, and some authors have stayed around for a while to answer members’ questions. I’ve also run a YA month and a Crime/Thriller month, which has involved authors popping in.
On top of this, thanks to some LOVELY publishers and authors, there are often give aways – we have some rather good ones lined up for our celebrations!
I hope I’ve looked at some of the issues – if you have any more you’d like to mention, please leave me a comment. Or, you can find me at @bookclubforum :)