A few months ago, Barnes and Noble announced that they would be hosting a monthly YA book club over the summer featuring three debut novels: Again, But Better in June, We Hunt the Flame in July, and Wilder Girls in August. When this was announced I was super pumped because it included ABB which I had been wanting to read, but also more importantly because I had hoped that I would be able to find more bookish people my age in my new home. The key words in that last sentence were had hoped and I’m about to explain why.
The first time I went to the book club, I arrived a little late to the Barnes and Noble closest to me, Again, But Better in hand and ready to meet some more bookish peeps. After wandering around the store trying to find where the book club was, I asked the employees at the counter where the book club. To this they responded something like “Well no one’s showed up, but she (other employee) has read the book. You might try (other location) as they are more popular and they also have a cafe to hold the club at.” After this, I left a little frustrated to the other location they had mentioned. Because I had arrived a bit late to the first location and traffic, I arrived 20 minutes before 8. I again wandered around and then asked the register employee where the book club was. She told me that the book club was upstairs and there were people up there. After braving my fear of escalators, I had explored the upstairs area earlier with no luck as to spotting the book club. So to make the trip less of a waste of gas and time, I bought a Mickey Mouse reading light and left.
More recently, I tried again this month for the discussion of We Hunt the Flame. I was at Disneyland for a pin release and left in time to get there just barely on time at the location that the first B&N had suggested for its’ popularity and space. I again explored the location with no luck as to finding the meeting and went back downstairs to ask an employee about the location. The employee radioed an inquiry about the location and told me that they were setting it up soon upstairs. Now, keep in mind that this is about 10 or so minute safter the club was scheduled to start. So I again go upstairs to wait for probably another 10 minutes. Around 7:20 an employee comes out with a discussion sheet and sits down in the cafe. I made my way over to her table a few minutes later. I told her I was probably the only one who had shown up for the event as I could see no one else there for the event and no one ever came up to us. We kind of went through the questions but it was hard to do as it was just us and the employee had not read the book. I felt bad just leaving the employee to sit there for the duration of the club so I stayed as long as I could before we really had nothing to talk about. I felt so bad for the poor employee who kept apologizing that it was so awkward and that we couldn’t really discuss anything. This time I finally just left without buying anything and called it a loss.
These experiences, and especially the most recent one, left me feeling frustrated, a little angry, and sad. This was supposed to be a fun experience where I could hopefully meet a few new bookish people in my area over a discussion of a book we read (I didn’t get a chance to read ABB in time but that isn’t the main thing here) and instead I ended up wasting a ton of gas and time and left feeling pretty down and frustrated. In addition, I also spent money on on of the books because my library wouldn’t have gotten it in on time. This book I bought was one that I took off my TBR because I was no longer interested in reading it but I bought it because I wanted to have read the book so I could connect with others at the book club.
I think the main problem with this summer YA book club is that it felt like it was hardly promoted. Yes, there were some social media posts and posters in store but that was about it. I saw a rare post here and there but most of the posts about it I saw through one of the authors, Christine Riccio.
Another related issue is that B&N did not promote anywhere that I saw that there was a place online where you could sign up for the book club and say how many people were going. I didn’t even know where it was the first time around and the second time when I did know, it was still confusing. B&N should have promoted this feature more and also added a feature to show how many people signed up so you would know if it was worth it to go. Otherwise, there was no way to see how many people, if any, were going. Some similar system should have been created that did this but also sent you an update if no one was going so you didn’t just go and waste your gas for no one to be there.
As a side note, I do know the big B&N in LA got a turn out for the June book club and the author herself showed up, but that is most likely because it is one of the main stores and the author made an appearance, so it was almost like a signing.
This book club should have been a fun and connective experience, but instead it was a waste of my gas, time, and money.