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  1. #1
    Seeker of Stuff Moderator Kamakhya's Avatar
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    How The Book Club Works

    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. #2
    Seeker of Stuff Moderator Kamakhya's Avatar
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    FicusFan stated:
    Not sure where to post this since the thread about how the book club will work has no subscribers.

    Regarding the need for special dispensation for trade paper backs:

    I would say that not only did our last book Altered Carbon come out as trade, but our April read Fountains of Paradise by Clarke is also only available as a Trade, in the US.

    It was once published as MM, but it has gone out of print. So if you are in the US and you don't own the book, or can't find it used you will have to spring for a trade. Many older SF books have been reprinted into trade.

    Ruling out trade sized books, or needing 'special' permission seems to me to be both limiting the reading pool, and making it more difficult to nominate books in a small group, as well as contradicting past and current practices.

    Everyone can still make a decision to participate or not - based on interest in the book, ease of getting the book, and value of the book versus the cost.
    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. #3
    Anitaverse Refugee FicusFan's Avatar
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    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. #4
    Hip, cool, jiggy wit' it emohawk's Avatar
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    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. #5
    Seeker of Stuff Moderator Kamakhya's Avatar
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    FicusFan stated:
    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.
    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. #6
    Lemurs!!! Moderator Erfael's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Kamakhya

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

    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. #7
    ack! stop it erfael, you sound like my creative writing teachers

  8. #8
    unconditional roach love
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    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. #9
    Tasty or your money back! Moderator fluffy bunny's Avatar
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    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. #10
    BookWyrm Archren's Avatar
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    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. #11
    Anitaverse Refugee FicusFan's Avatar
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    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. #12
    Seeker of Stuff Moderator Kamakhya's Avatar
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    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. #13
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    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. #14
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    Lightbulb

    Quote Originally Posted by Erfael
    I think that accounts for everyone's opinions so far. Let me know if I've left something off or miscounted something. So we're generating a huge pile of things with at least two votes. I think it may be a good idea to go with things getting three or more as in the Fantasy book group if turnout is going to be this big and the nominations so vigourous. There were only nine votes last month, so we certainly don't want to start getting many more than half that many books on the poll, so if there is more thirding and such we'll need to figure out how to handle all of it.

    Really glad to see so many people interested in the book group. Stick around, everybody.
    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 ( ) 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. #15
    Lemurs!!! Moderator Erfael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnT
    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 ( ) 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.
    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 by Erfael; August 20th, 2005 at 10:04 AM.

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