The Big Book Club Event, scheduled for Feb. 1 and 2 at the Mohegan Sun Resort in Montville, will feature more than 50 authors including Leeza Gibbons, Brad Meltzer, Tess Gerritsen, Mary McGarry Morris, Patricia Schultz (1000 Places to See Before You Die), Kristin van Ogtrop (Managing Editor of Real Simple Magazine), Amy Newmark (Publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series) and many, many more.
Roxanne Coady, the owner of Madison's independent bookstore, R.J. Julia, will also be there, along with hundreds of book lovers and book club participants. R. J. Julia is one of several independent booksellers participating, along with Essex Books in Ivoryton, CT, and Bank Square Books in Mystic, CT.
Kirsten Hess, director, marketing and events at R.J. Julia Booksellers, says she's looking forward to meeting and talking with the big-name authors, and to visiting Mohegan Sun, which, according to the Big Bookclub Getaway website, features "gaming, virtual travel, spa services, nightlife, shopping, and dining."
What do you want from your local, independent bookseller?
But most of all, Hess says, she's looking forward to meeting with book lover and book club participants, to find out more about what they want from their local independent booksellers.
"We are looking forward to meeting all the people in Connecticut that we have never met, and to being able to find out from people who participate in bookclubs, what are they looking for in a local bookstore," she said. "We are really looking forward to that face-to-face interaction."
Hess said R.J. Julia already has a thriving relationship with a variety of book clubs, an initiative being nurtured by R. J. Julia Bookseller Sue Moretti, along with others at the store. There are at least five bookclubs that meet regularly at the store, and there are several more that get book recommendations from R. J. Julia and buy their books through the store.
A natural fit for the independents
Participating in the Big Book Club Getaway is a natural fit for R. J. Julia and other independent booksellers like Essex Books and Bank Square Books, who want to be tuned into the needs of their customers and community, Hess said.
"When we were asked to participate, we were thrilled. This is really about promoting reading," Hess said, adding that she recommends those interested in attending to check through the jam-packed agenda beforehand, so they can take full advantage of all the authors coming.
According to that agenda, there will be presentations, discussions on how to enliven your book club, discussions about contemporary issues, and an after-hours party at Bobby Flay's Bar Americain.
More books, more talking, and then more fun
Most of the authors are giving presentations on Saturday, with the organized events wrapping up soon enough for "another fun night at Mohegan Sun." Participants can go to one day or both. Tickets are $50 for each day, with special rates offered to students, book club participants and others.
Hess said the Big Book Club Getaway is just one example of community events, and collaborative events, that R. J. Julia is participating in this year.
"This has been a huge initiative for us in 2013, really bonding with community member and thinking of how we can work together with others in the community bring new things to our customers in the community," Hess said.
One of several community events, a big theme for 2013
Another successful example was the event sponsored by the bookstore recently featuring Jon Meacham, the author of the critically acclaimed "Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power." The event, co-sponsored and supported by the Hopkins School in New Haven, CT, was held at the Madison Beach Hotel.
Hess said the event would not have been possible without the financial support of the Hopkins School and the help of Madison Beach Hotel. She said the evening event sold out, and than Madison Beach Hotel worked with the bookstore and author to add an afternoon event.
"It was fabulous and I cannot say enough good things about Madison Beach Hotel," Hess said. "We could not have pulled it off without their assistance and the Hopkins School. "
Cooperative, flexible, and a donation to an important initiative
In addition to being cooperative and flexible, Madison Beach Hotel also offered 10 percent back on all food and beverage purchases that afternoon and evening, to support Read to Grow, a non-profit that supports early literacy for Connecticut children.
Hess said the Big Bookclub Getaway will be every bit as successful as the event at Madison Beach Hotel.
"We are really looking forward to meeting people that weekend," she said.