How The Book Club Works

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Kamakhya, Mar 21, 2004.

  1. Kamakhya

    Kamakhya Seeker of Stuff

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2002
    Messages:
    652
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    This club is open to all. Each month, we will choose one novel to read and then discuss it. Nominations usually begin six weeks before the designated month and Voting takes place four weeks before the designated month and lasts between 7 and 10 days. Discussions begin on the first of every month.

    We do have some guidelines for the club. The purpose of the guidelines if to promote equal access to all and diversity.

    The basic guidelines are as follows:

    1) No author may be chosen more than once during any given six month period. There can be multiple nominations for any given author, but once that author has been chosen for a Book of the Month, he/she is cannot be nominated for another 6 months.

    2) It takes two nominations for a book to enter the poll.

    3) The book should be either a stand-alone novel or the first of a series.

    4) The books should be available as a mass market paperback. However, we will accept nominations for trade paperbacks, but they will require at least three nominations to be considered for the poll. We will not accept nominations for books only available in hardback.

    5) The books should be readily available in both North America and England. To determine the availability of a book, check amazon.com for the U.S. and amazon.co.uk for England. Sadly, this leaves our Australian (and other nationalities) to fend for themselves. Please let me know if a particular nomination is difficult or costly to acquire in your country. Once again, should a book not meet this criteria, it will take three nominations to get it a place on the poll.

    If possible, I will alert our members to issues involving cost or availability on the poll itself, so we can choose whether or not to vote for any given novel.

    The Science Fiction Book Club is an on-going and changing project. The above guidelines are simply that, guidelines, and not meant to be written in stone. I will continue to update this informational message as needs dictate.

    I want everyone to feel comfortable making suggestions, so I will leave this thread open to reply. This book club is a group project and all members are free to comment, suggest or otherwise opine.
     
  2. Kamakhya

    Kamakhya Seeker of Stuff

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2002
    Messages:
    652
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    FicusFan stated:
    I don't see why you couldn't respond in the Book Club thread. It is open and ready for response. No thread has "subscribers", so I am confused at your problem. I looked at the thread and while it has had no responses, it is open to response. so, I copied your post below and respond to it. Thank you for your thoughts!


    As I stated before, I never checked the books prior to being alerted to the availability issue with Neverness. I counted on our readers to be smart enough to check if they could get a book before voting for it. And they did, by and large. If someone complained, then I would check it out. I am not big on rules and when I found this month's nominations blatantly disregarded the rules, I found a way around those rules and implemented it. So, I think we agree here.

    I do not rule out trade paperbacks, if fact, just the opposite. I brought them back into the voting. I realised that as a group that limitation was too limiting, so I brought in my own rule to allow for such books. Y'all showed me that we were ready, willing and able to nominate trades in the past, so we must make room for them now. So I changed the rules to reflect this. All I ask is for three nominations. Not a big deal.

    What I don't want is someone complaining that they were excluded because the cost was exhorbitant or the book was unavailable. I know this will happen sometimes, but I believe in keeping the focus on books that are accesible to all. This will not always happen, but I think it is a worthy goal.

    So, the new rules are designed to give the members the say in the end. If a book is hard to come by in your country, let me know and I will make it clear on the poll (if I can).

    I am a bit worried that this new rule will allow books that only Europeans or Americans can talk about, but we will give it a try. I have operated under the assumption that if England can get it, so can Australia, New Zealand and even Asia. That is pretty naive. In this regard, I am really relying on those of you not in Europe or the US to let me know if you have issues with a book, so I can alert people to the distribition problems.

    So, if a given book is too expensive or difficult to come by, then let us know.

    Please continue to share your thoughts.
     
  3. FicusFan

    FicusFan Anitaverse Refugee

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2002
    Messages:
    3,267
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I don't understand your assertion that you added a rule to allow trades, when in fact you created the rule to restrict them in the first place. Prior to your posting of the rules there was no restriction at all on trades. It is something you made up, not something that was part of the book club.

    The only thing we required was that the book be in print - there was an understanding that we don't do harcdovers because of the cost; but many books are only available in trade in terms of paper.
     
  4. emohawk

    emohawk Hip, cool, jiggy wit' it

    Joined:
    May 26, 2003
    Messages:
    384
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I was under the impression before this thread was posted that the standing book club guideline was that they had to be MMP, so it must have been mentioned here before at some point.

    Now that we have guidelines spelled out though it probably doesn't warrant arguing about.
     
  5. Kamakhya

    Kamakhya Seeker of Stuff

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2002
    Messages:
    652
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    FicusFan stated:
    I can't imagine why I would create a rule I don't even like! The MMPB rule has been around for ages, since the clubs evolved. It had nothing to do with me. I never liked it as I am willing to buy hardbacks for the club and hated the limiting factor of it. I made up no new rules until a couple of us decided to revamp the existing rules. The Fantasy bookclub may have altered its rules since then, but I haven't been paying much attention to them since the groundwork was laid out for book clubs. Granted, I never really made an issue of it if people voted for a trade paperback, but that doesn't mean I didn't encourage people to nominate mmpb's. I stated it repeatedly over the past year.

    Emohawk, you are right. I should have spelled it out ages ago. I just assumed that everyone knew (osmosis, or something!). :)
     
  6. Erfael

    Erfael Lemurs!!! Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2002
    Messages:
    4,197
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    123

    That gives me a great vision of all of us sitting there with our heads pressed up against our monitors to get the latest updates on nominating protocol. Maybe there's a short story there for someone....
     
  7. trentdick2882

    trentdick2882 Complete Dickhead

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Messages:
    614
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    ack! stop it erfael, you sound like my creative writing teachers :)
     
  8. knivesout

    knivesout unconditional roach love

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2004
    Messages:
    406
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Incidentally, a lot of of OOP stuff is available second hand, usually. Most of my pre-70s SF books were acquired from used book stores, both here in India, where I live and from online stores. It isn't an assurance of availability, but I wanted to point out that there is another source, in addition to libraries and regular bookstores.
     
  9. fluffy bunny

    fluffy bunny Tasty or your money back! Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2002
    Messages:
    1,623
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    At the end of the year, I was thinking of posting a thread, where you could discuss the bookclub books of 2004 with a few questions along the lines of, 'Which books did you like best and why?' 'What do you think the relative strengths and weaknesses of the authors are?'

    I'm still constructing a few more questions, but I just thought I'd ask what people here thought of the idea.
     
  10. Archren

    Archren BookWyrm

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2003
    Messages:
    1,304
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I'd certainly be interested to hear what sort of views we get when taking the long view of the year's choices. That's a pretty cool idea. :)
     
  11. FicusFan

    FicusFan Anitaverse Refugee

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2002
    Messages:
    3,267
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I think it would be good too. It could be interesting and worthwhile look at the books after we have read them and moved on: what has changed after they had a chance to sink in and what has changed since reading other books that made you look at the book group book differently.
     
  12. Kamakhya

    Kamakhya Seeker of Stuff

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2002
    Messages:
    652
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    By all means! In addition to what others have said, it may also encourage some other members to post their thoughts on books they have read, but did not participate in the BOTM discussion at the time.
     
  13. JohnT

    JohnT Registered User

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2005
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    You can probably solve the problem of global release schedules by putting a time-limit on nominations, say "no nominating books that have been released less than three/five years." This will make it impossible to instantly nominate the latest and greatest Hugo winner, but there are plenty of books in the sci-fi canon to handle a 12 books/year discussion group.

    Just a thought.
     
  14. JohnT

    JohnT Registered User

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2005
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    For starters, I withdraw my Fallen Dragon nomination - no fair for me to have two of them up there.

    I think that until the group gets to be so big as to consistently nominate 12 books, you might want to get rid of the seconding and thirding business and let each nomination rise or fall on its own merits in the voting thread. Limit each person to one ( :eek: ) nomination, and that's it.

    I also know that vBulliten boards can go up to 24 poll options, which might be something to consider in the future if we get more than 12 nominations per month.
     
  15. Erfael

    Erfael Lemurs!!! Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2002
    Messages:
    4,197
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    123
    Where do you get 12 books from? Is that just a random number? We've already had 10 different people in the nominations this month, and I can't really see having a poll set up with 12 different books and the chance for having more than one or two votes per book. Nobody is making people read the books if their book doesn't get picked, so all of this seconding and thirding is just another way to make sure that more than one person is interested in reading a book before it goes to poll. In truth, given all the time in the world, we'd like to narrow the field enough so that a final vote would give at least a greater than 50% majority on a particular book (much like this month's runoff with Day of the Triffids) in order to ensure that people are interested in reading it.

    Though it's happened in the past that we've had very few discussing, the whole process is designed to get as many people participating as possible. I can't help thinking that if a book could be voted book of the month by being nominated by only one person and then getting only 2/12 votes (16%) we may not have that many people wanting to read it and participate. Whereas if at least 3 people have to want a book on the poll (around a quarter of all participating now) and we end up with 4 or so books on the poll, we can easily come up with a book that around 50% or more of the people vote for.

    Edit: And I guess I failed to point out that the system has been working both here and in the Fantasy Club, which gets more traffic per month, for several years now without any real hitches, and everyone's been happy with it. So unless we see some clear problems with current procedure, we're not very comfortable monkeying with it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2005
  16. JohnT

    JohnT Registered User

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2005
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    12 is the maximum limit for polls.

    Yes, but you're essentially duplicating the effort that's already done by the poll.

    Like I said, I used to do this too. Here's an example of a months nominee being run through the process

    Nominating Thread

    Voting Thread

    Discussion Thread

    (unfortunantly, we ended up with Enders Game one of the more over-rated books in the history of science fiction. ;) )

    Now it helps that the poll option was set to 24 votes, and we did allow multiple votes (akin to "seconding" and "thirding" the nominations.)
     
  17. Erfael

    Erfael Lemurs!!! Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2002
    Messages:
    4,197
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    123
    JohnT,

    This isn't meant to blow you off or anything like that, but maybe just hang out a couple of months, see how things work out, go with the flow. This system has worked well for us to get a very nice, diverse group of books in both the sci-fi and fantasy forums here at SFFWorld. We've picked over 70 books so far over the last 3 to 4 years in widely varying areas of both genres with little to no problem. Give it a chance. There are more ways than one to do things. After you've seen how things work for a while, if you have some concerns about things not happening in a fair, democratic, effective way, let us know.
     
  18. FicusFan

    FicusFan Anitaverse Refugee

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2002
    Messages:
    3,267
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I am confused as to why this urge to fix something that isn't broken ? Especialy when just joining. :confused: By all means nominate, vote, read, and discuss, but your suggestions will carry more weight if you actually spend some time here participating first.
     
  19. JohnT

    JohnT Registered User

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2005
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Look, when it is stated in the very first post in this thread:

    And then my suggestions are followed up with the previous two posts essentially saying "STFU N00b!*", one wonders why you even bothered typing it in. If you want suggestions, welcome them. If you don't, be honest about it and remove the above line. And if you want people to "be comfortable" making suggestions, don't jump all over people who are merely doing as you ask.

    *n00b to the boards, not to discussion groups. I've co-moderated (with my wife) a monthly film discussion group for the past five years, I moderated a science-fiction novel discussion group both online (example above) and in RL (Here is me complaining about the quality of discussion at one of the meetings), and there's the X-Files group which I co-moderated for a few years prior to the movie group.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2005
  20. Sammie

    Sammie The Doctor...

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2001
    Messages:
    4,370
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hi John,

    Thanks for your thoughts on our book selection system - as the thread says, members suggestions are always welcome, and I don't believe it was the intention of anyone here to give a different impression.

    I think the issue here is that although your suggestions are indeed welcome, after consideration, the moderators and long-term participaters here feel that they aren't appropriate to the set-up here at the moment.

    There simply aren't sufficent people taking part to justify such a large poll of the kind you suggest. After much trial and error (this system had been running in the fantasy forum for some years now - and believe me we had our glitches to start with!), we have discovered that the best way to get a large number of readers to join in, after the book of the month has been chosen, is to establish three to five books with a good level of member interest - via the nominations - and then have a run-off vote between those books. We found that the larger the number of books in the poll, the greater the proportion of members that voted that then did not read the winning book. Also, more often than not, we had to have a 'tie-breaker' poll anyway if there were a large number of books in the first poll. The nominations system is, for us, a tried and tested method. We will have needed, and will need again, to adapt the system as the membership grows and changes, so I doubt it will stay this way for ever but, for now, it's what works.

    Why not give it a try for a couple of months, and then suggest ways that you think we could 'tweak' the system, to improve it further. I suspect that this would be more welcome than the suggestion that we are 'doing it all wrong' and should change completely, which you can understand may ruffle some feathers!

    Thanks again for your thoughts.

    Hope you enjoy the club!

    Sammie.
    Administrator.