Sunday, April 29, 2007

Another reason, if one was needed... retain book review sections in newspapers. Sharmistha Gooptu, writing in the Times of India, speaks about the prevalence of reading groups in the US, which depend on local review sections to select books to read. So popular is the reading group concept in America, writes Gooptu, that publishers routinely enclose reading group guides in their promotional material:

Barbara Willard, an American who went to see the movie with a group of her friends, had an instructive point to make. She saw the film with her friends from a ladies reading group, who had read Jhumpa Lahiri's novel together some eight months earlier. Their interest was principally on account of their familiarity with the book. Barbara felt that The Namesake would be a big draw among women who were part of such reading groups.

The reading group, which is far less common in India, is very significant among American women of all age groups. I was informed that ladies reading groups in the US have generated a greater market for certain kinds of publications which are supposed to be 'women-oriented', and publishers are known to promote a new author if they feel that the book will do well in reading groups. Reading group guides are available, and new publications are often tagged with a sheet for reader's response, for market surveys. The Namesake first appeared in paperback in the US in the middle of 2006 when Barbara and her reading group read it.

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