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The Osgood File (CBS Radio Network)

An e-mail book club hooks
busy people on reading.

Don't have time to read anymore? Now you can get a free, quick literature fix via email. More than 100,000 people open their email each day to read a chapter of a book, through DearReader, the online book club created two years ago by entrepreneur and booklover Suzanne Beecher. It's a free email service that provides a short daily read for busy people, exposing them to literature they may not find on their own, inspiring some to recommit to the reading habit. About 550 public library systems representing over 3,000 branch libraries already have signed up to offer DearReader. Via email, participants get about five minutes worth of reading several days in a row. After three chapters are revealed, the installments stop, and those who want to keep reading can reserve the title at their public library or purchase it online. DearReader has eight free book clubs, and sells thousands of titles each month, representing a ray of hope for book marketing in the post-Oprah industry gloom.

DearReader started in 1999 when Suzanne Beecher, a lifelong book lover, realized how many of the women who worked part-time for her software development company didn't have time in their busy lives to read. She decided to type in part of a chapter of a book, and send it to her employees through email. The next day she typed a little more, and continued to send literary installments each day. She says she started getting feedback from the staff about how reading made them feel. "They were hooked, and realized that, though they had thought they didn’t have time in their busy lives for reading, just reading that little bit each day got them back in the habit." Realizing that many other people could benefit, she decided to take the idea even further and start an email "chapter-a-day" book club to help others ease their way back into daily reading. "Reading makes changes in peoples lives. If you want to understand, you read," Beecher says.

Pat Dempsey, a librarian at Cuyahoga County Public Library in Ohio, has found DearReader helps her library clients get back in the habit of reading and promotes new titles. "It's a different way to get people hooked on books," she says. "And anything you can do to get books in people's hands is fine in my book. (Pardon the pun.)"


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