Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Book Club Strikes Again

Last year, I posted about my experience with McSweeney's Book Release club, which was not altogether horrible but not my idea of perfection. You might recall my fit as the All Known Metal Bands book arrived at my door. But I still like the idea.

Well The Rumpus, the hipster literary site, a kind of scrappy version of the Daily Beast, has launched their own monthly book club this summer (as reported by PW here). What is different is that they will choose books from various publishers, indie and otherwise, and will ship the books out to members a month before pub. Well played, Rumpus. They are charging $25 a month, which includes shipping I believe, or $250 for a year.

Author Stephen Elliot started Rumpus and it should be no surprise that he's being innovative, given that for his own book last year, published by great indie Milkweed, Elliot sent out galleys to folks who signed up, asking that they then send them onto the next person on the list. I participated in this plan and actually found it very smart, and though I didn't love love love the book, I respected it - and the author - a great deal and liked the process. I like the way this Elliot guy thinks.

I also respect how he's not overhyping this idea, but just putting it out there in a laidback way. Probably the San Francisco in him talking, but in this case, I'm going to let it slide. He says in the PW article,

Elliott also picks books from authors he thinks have an affinity with The Rumpus. "We're doing Tao Lin's new novel, Richard Yates, coming from Melville House in September. We're really interested in Tao as a writer on the margins of the mainstream literary world, really fond of some of his other books, and we've discussed him a lot on The Rumpus. We haven't read the book yet, but we're looking forward to it, and think it's a book that people who read The Rumpus are also interested in. I really hope it's good," said Elliott.

Stepping back further, I also appreciate the curatorial quality to this whole set-up. So many books are published, so the folks at Rumpus, with a sense of what their readers like, will help you out, picking books from Melville, Milkweed, McSweeneys - but also, perhaps sadly, Penguin and Little, Brown - and give you a community of fellow readers for that book.

Lastly, I love that they have also started a poetry book club. Now with that move, Rumpus, I may be smitten.

I am watching with some trepidation as they start their own book publishing imprint, Paper Internets, with an anthology of writing by women. Good luck, Rumpus!

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