Friday, July 16, 2010

Reinventing the Book Club

Books and Bars is at the top of bookselling innovation. The forum-style, stand-up comedy laced book club was formed in 2004 as a way to revitalize an independent bookstore that had gone under. Moderator/comedian Jeff Kamin leads the discussions that are held in a small auditorium behind a bowling alley that is usually filled to the legal limit within fifteen minutes of the doors opening. The discussions often include Q&As with the authors who attend via online video chats, comedy routines, and forum style discussion with the audience.

The Books and Bars club has become immensely popular and successful in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, receiving virtually no aid from large, commercial sponsors (Books and Bars was sponsored by the onion until recently, now its sole sponsors are three local, independently owned businesses: Surly Brewing Co. which provides drinks for the club meetings, Bryant-Lake Bowl which provides the venue, and Mager & Quinn Booksellers, the largest independent bookseller in the Twin Cities). Utilizing fairly new and innovative marketing, advertising, and sales techniques such as the "#Booksandbars Tweetup" on Twitter, a blog that outlines past discussions, and the self sufficient partnership between Books and Bars and Mager and Quinn that brings in large revenues for both, Books and Bars is an inspiration to independent business everywhere. Read the article about Books and Bars and checkout their website and blog.

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