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By Sue Carter Flinn
November 10, 2011
5:50 PM

Filed under News

Chatelaine launches new book club

As dedicated book sections in print media continue to shrink, Canadian women’s magazine Chatelaine is bucking the trend by increasing its coverage and launching a monthly book club. With a readership of almost 4 million, Chatelaine’s endorsement could translate into an impressive sales boost for selected titles.

Chatelaine Book Club was introduced in the magazine’s November issue, with two pages devoted to its first pick, Ami McKay’s recently released novel The Virgin Cure (Knopf Canada). Designed with home book clubs in mind, the section includes a book synopsis, talking points, and background information on the author. Chatelaine’s part-time books editor, Laurie Grassi, also hosts a discussion forum on the magazine’s website, while McKay posts regularly to a tour diary. Other online features include reviews, author interviews, and contests.

Hired in March, Grassi is the former special issues editor at Canadian House & Home. She says Chatelaine initially expanded its book coverage as part of a major redesign in June 2010. The magazine’s books blog launched online in July 2011.

Behind the scenes, Grassi worked closely with publishers and Chatelaine staff to pick the inaugural title for the book club. Any book is eligible for consideration, regardless of where and when it was published, Grassi says, as long as it’s available for purchase and it’s a “compelling story for our readers.”

Tracey Turriff, Random House of Canada’s executive director of marketing and corporate communications, says the The Virgin Cure’s core audience is “quite similar” to the demographics of Chatelaine’s readers (women, ages 25 to 49). Random House already had a significant marketing campaign planned for the book before it was picked, but Turriff says the endorsement, which includes a bright-pink Chatelaine seal printed on the book’s dust jacket, will “extend the reach of this promotion and expand upon it, hopefully connecting even more readers to Ami McKay.”

For her part, McKay says she is “super-pleased that Chatelaine had decided to do this. The fact that they’re devoting page space and a big online presence to books. I would have been thrilled with the news even if I hadn’t been the first pick.”

Writing blog posts and letters addressing Chatelaine readers isn’t a stretch for the Nova Scotia author, who enjoys public outreach. In March 2006, McKay participated in a live chat on Chatelaine’s website to promote her first novel, The Birth House. “People who were on that forum are very loyal, and still check in all the time,” she says.

December’s book club pick, The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Italian physicist Paolo Giordano, was originally released in March 2010. Penguin Canada, the book’s Canadian publisher, says it is producing a Chatelaine Book Club sticker for all copies currently on the market, and promoting the title through its digital channels and print advertising in The New York Times books supplement, distributed weekly through the Toronto Star.

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