The Santa Clara County Book Club is a private Meetup group managed by two co-organizers. This document is intended to share the key processes and decision-making approach of the club.
Meeting Frequency, Location, and Format
The Book Club is structured around reading and discussing one book each month. We alternate between Fiction and Non-Fiction books each month. Book discussions are held on the third Saturday of each month from 9:30 to 11:00 AM at the Blossom Hill Barnes & Noble in San Jose off the Alamaden Expressway. Meetups are facilitated by the co-organizers (or an occasional guest) to provide structure and direction to the discussion. All members are encouraged to provide their opinions, and all opinions are valued and respected. The organizers may at times decide to schedule additional special meetings when there is sufficient interest.
The organizers maintain a list of possible options for the next fiction book and the next non-fiction book. The lists of non-fiction and fiction books are maintained in the About the Club section of the Meetup site. Nominations for new books to add to the lists will be accepted by the organizers either at meetings or via email. The organizers reserve the right to screen book nominations in order to provide a diverse and interesting list of books for club consideration. Screening will be based on the organizers knowledge of the club members’ interests and book availability. Nominations will be accepted up to the Saturday before the meeting so that people will have an opportunity to research the list and decide on their rankings in advance of the meeting.
In the event that there are more suggestions for a particular meeting than there are available slots, suggestions will be limited to one per member. If a member makes multiple suggestions, then the organizer will choose one from the member's suggestions, often using the Amazon Sales Rank. The remaining slots will then be allocation in the following priority order:
Choosing the Next Book
- Members who regularly attend (3+ meetings in the last 12 months) and who are planning to attend the meeting.
- Members who have attended at least one meeting previously and are planning to attend the meeting.
- Members who regularly attend (3+ meetings in the last 12 months) but who are NOT planning to attend the meeting.
- New members who are planning to attend the meeting.
- All other suggestions including from new members who are not planning to attend and previous suggestions that did not make the list.
The screened list of 10 book nominations will be reviewed at end of the meeting with each attendee providing feedback on their level of interest. At the close of a fiction discussion, we will discuss nominations for the next fiction selection to be discussed two months later. This process is repeated at the close of a non-fiction discussion to pick the next non-fiction selection. Everyone in attendance (no absentee voting) will be asked to rank, in order of preference, their top five choices for the next book selection and to indicate either interested or not interested for the other books.
All the book candidates will be assigned a score based on the collated rankings. The score will be calculated using the following weighting, first choice=3pts, second choice=2.75pts, third choice=2.5pts, second choice=2.25pts, fifth choice=2pt, I am interested in reading=1pt, I am not interested in reading=-2pts. So for example, if a book were to get 3 first choice votes, 2 fourth choice votes, and 1 I am not interested vote then the book's score would be 3*3+2*2.75+1*-2=12.5. The bottom half of the books will be dropped from the list every month, and any books that have been on the list for at least four votes (i.e., 7 months) but did not rank in the top three will be dropped.
The top two books that surface from the ranking at the meeting are then submitted in a poll to the entire club for online voting. Once the new book is selected, the corresponding Meetup for discussion of the selected book is scheduled. This scheduling usually occurs within one week of the Meetup thus providing members nearly 2 months to read the book prior to the group discussion.
If there are more good books suggested than fit on the roster of 10 candidates, a second sheet of those overflow candidates will be put together and at the meeting members will be asked to evaluate those books as yes (interested), no (not interested), or no opinion. Those books that score the best will be promoted up into the top 10 list of book candidates for the following selection for that book category (fiction or non-fiction).Meeting Size & RSVPs
In order to ensure our meeting size is reasonable to support a discussion where all attendees can hear and participate, we have had to impose a limit to the number of attendees. Members must RSVP to the book club event in order to secure a spot. We allow for 25 attendees and provide for a waiting list. The attendee and waiting lists are managed very closely and carefully to provide the best opportunity for individuals on the waiting list to attend. The organizers may require that attendees (particularly new members) individually confirm their plans to attend via email. If the organizer does not hear back within 48 hours of requesting confirmation of plans to attend then those members may have their RSVP status manually changed to "no". Finally, the wait list may be manually managed by the organizer with a preference given based on how many meetings members have attended, not simply on a first come first served basis.Membership & Dues
The club currently welcomes new members. The primary requirement to be admitted into the group is to fully complete the new member profile, but the organizers reserve the right to deny membership to an applicant who in the opinion of the organizers is not a good fit for the group. Similarly, the organizers reserve the right to remove someone from the Meetup group in the event that the person is disruptive or not respectful of other members or the group’s processes.
At present, the group organizers personally cover the costs of the Meetup site but based on the feedback from the July 2010 membership survey, the organizers may decide to require members to pay an annual membership fee. In order to defray the costs of the Meetup site, the organizers offer groups and individuals the opportunity to sponsor the Meetup group. The organizers can provide more details on sponsorship benefits and costs.Email Communication
Only the organizers will send emails to the members of the group. Emails will be sent to announce when new meetings are scheduled, to remind members of an upcoming meeting, to inform people about a new online poll, or for group related business. Emails will in general not be sent to the group for events or groups not directly related to the Meetup group, for example book readings or other Meetup events for other groups unless those people/organizations are sponsors of our group.Governance Processes
Members are encouraged to provide suggestions to the organizers to improve the functioning of the group. When both organizers are in agreement, they may make changes to the details of how the group functions that they consider too detailed/technical to be of interest to most members (e.g., how book popularity is scored, new member profile questions, the number of books on the list of possible options). Significant changes to the group (e.g., time and location of meetings, major changes to how books are selected) will be put to an online vote by the group and will require approval by a majority of those who vote, to be implemented. The organizers will decide when there is sufficient support for a proposal for some change to put it up for a vote.