After Barbara Drummond Mead and her husband, Charlie, decided reluctantly not to
open a bookstore, she learned that
Reading Group Choices, the publication founded by Paz & Associates
10 years ago to serve the book group market, was for sale. "My eyes lit
up," she told Shelf Awareness
. "It was perfect. I was in publishing and
had worked in bookstores [including McIntyre's in Fearrington Village,
N.C., and Covered Treasures Bookstore, Monument, Colo.]. I know books.
I know bookstores. And Charlie comes from sales and marketing."
Charlie, who has an MBA and worked for 30 years for Compaq and Digital
Equipment, "ran the numbers and saw it was a good, solid business," he
said. And with his tech background, he saw further possibilities, such
as enhancing the publication's Web site and making it more interactive.
"We want to connect authors and publishers and readers," he said.
But those plans have to wait at least a few more weeks. Since buying
Reading Group Choices from Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman, who
wanted to concentrate on their core business of training and consulting with
booksellers, in May, the Meads have focused on getting the 2006 edition
together. "We're 85% full for this edition," Barbara said.
Of the edition's 20,000 copies, complimentary copies are sent to 12,000
public libraries, 2,000 bookstores with book group programs and 1,000
book groups. The rest of the copies are sold, sometimes a copy at a
time, sometimes in bulk to bookstore groups. Eventually the Meads want
to add specialty editions, focusing, for example, on faith-based
fiction or Southern writers.
groups of Reading Group Choices owners (from l. to r.): Mark Kaufman,
Donna Paz Kaufman, Barbara Drummond Mead, Charlie Mead.
Although bookstore reading groups get plenty of attention, much reading
group action takes place at libraries. Charlie said: "Lots and lots of
public libraries are very active. Reading groups may not take books out
of the library but they depend on the library for advice."
Both Meads extol the demographics of book groups. Some 30% of readers
of Reading Group Choices have been members of book groups for more than
five years and more than 60% hold advance degrees. They also buy more
than 60 books a year on average and they often buy as gifts titles they
learned about through reading groups. Charlie added, "They're tech
savvy, but like to have a printed copy of Reading Group Choices
Reading Group Choise is located at 532 Cross Creek Court, Chester, Md. 21619; 410-643-7472; bmead@ReadingGroupChoices.com; www.readinggroupchoices.com