Gen Z Celebrity Book Clubs Are Gaining Popularity

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Book clubs have always been popular, but they flourished during the COVID-19 pandemic when people were unable to leave their homes to attend in-person meetings. It has since largely moved online, prompting many to start their own virtual book clubs. Many celebrities besides Oprah and Reese have started their own companies. Schools followed suit. Companies have even developed book club programs for their employees. Book clubs have also become businesses in their own right, with companies providing organization and logistics for other businesses.

And then both big and small brands joined this victory. Media and technology companies like Netflix and Apple have started their own book clubs for their customers. Small businesses have also taken advantage of this trend by starting various virtual book clubs. Instead of meeting in person, they held virtual sessions via Zoom. Some companies, however, have returned to doing it in person, pairing their products such as food and wine with books and book signings. Some even charged for tickets to these events.

This trend isn’t going away anytime soon.

Traditional book clubs like Oprah and Reese’s have their audiences, which tend to be adult women. However, there’s a new wave that’s catching the attention of young people: celebrity book clubs for Gen Z.

The Rise of Celebrity Book Clubs Targeting Gen Z

In May, former actress Jeannette McCurdy launched her book club, announcing that she would select one fiction and non-fiction book each month and post about them on her social media accounts and website. Her first choice of fiction was Hang the Moon by Jeannette Walls, and her first choice of nonfiction was Hang the Moon by Jeannette Walls. Anti-cool girl Rosie Waterland. In July she chose Fireworks every night Beth Reimer.

Another celebrity who has an active book club for the Gen Z audience is the indie band Boygenius, fronted by musician Phoebe Bridgers. The band members are avid readers themselves, starting out as a book club before branching out into music. Then, when they became famous, fans decided to officially register the book club on the Fable app. “It all started a week ago when I posted on TikTok that I wish someone would start a Boy Genius book club because they recommend so many great books in their interviews,” said Francesca, the book club’s founder.

Over the years the group has received many recommendations, including Parable of the Sower Octavia E. Butler, Night bitch Rachel Yoder and Portrait of a lady Henry James. Their current selection is a collection of short stories by Carmen Maria Machado. Her body and other sides.

Like McCurdy, pop star Dua Lipa also launched a book club in May 2023 in partnership with Services95, her own lifestyle platform in the style of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop (who also has her own book club). Each month, the lifestyle brand will feature a book personally selected by a pop star, “featuring works from around the world (…) that will bring you closer to the writer, their inspiration and the worlds they create.” The first book Lipa chose in June was Shuggie Bain Douglas Stewart. At the time of writing, her current choice is Half a Yellow Sun Chimamanda Ngozi, she previously performed Pachinko Min Jin Lee.

Model Kaia Gerber is another celebrity who took a leaf out of someone’s book. In the early days of the pandemic, she started her book club, aimed primarily at Gen Z audiences like her. In an interview with Fashion, she said she always wanted to be part of a book club. “I read the books and talked about them with my friends, but we never did anything formal,” she said at the time. “I wanted to create a space where people felt like they could talk about topics that were a little harder to touch on on Instagram.”

Garber’s first choice was Ordinary people Sally Rooney. Her current choice Acts of service Lilian Fishman. Since starting her book club, she has published My body Emily Ratajkowski Severance pay Lin Ma, My dark Vanessa Kate Elizabeth Russell and Immortalists Chloe Benjamin, among other books.

Another model on the same level as Garber is Kendall Jenner. Many may not know, but the model also reads and shares something through Instagram. Jenner doesn’t have an official book club, but her followers have created one for her. As she photographed ongoing readings on her Instagram account, fans gathered them all to form an unofficial book club for her. Some of the books she has read are essays, stories and poems, including Sea of ​​strangers Lang Liv, How to cure a ghost Fariha Róisín and Literally show me a healthy person Darcy Wilder and others.

How do celebrity book clubs targeting Gen Z work?

The above-mentioned book clubs operate online as virtual book clubs. Participating celebrities usually post their picks of the month on various platforms.

In McCurdy’s case, she is mainly active on Instagram and TikTok. Boygeniuses typically recommend books during interviews, but they don’t officially announce a book every month like traditional book clubs do. These book club “picks” are also listed on the Fable app (an unofficial book club of the group existed before their formation, with members trading recommendations with each other).

In Lipa’s case, she announces books on her social media accounts. She also does author interviews and her lifestyle brand publishes author-related content. Like others, Garber primarily announces her choices on Instagram and YouTube. She has also done interviews with other celebrities on her platforms in the past. As for Jenner, she sometimes posts photos of her current reads on Instagram, which fans add to her unofficial book club.

However, none of them have apps as complex as Reese’s, nor do they have a partnership with a major tech company like Oprah has with Apple. There are also no registration fees or website registration fees to join their book clubs. Readers only need to visit their social media profiles or websites, buy the book, read it and join the discussions.

Like most virtual book clubs, membership numbers are not available, but these celebrities have huge social media followings; they alone have millions of followers on Instagram. While not all of their fans are readers, of course, they have a wide reach.

How do these celebrities speak to young readers in a way that book club influencers like Oprah or Reese don’t?

This new wave of celebrity book clubs is encouraging young audiences to read. Most of Reese’s and Oprah’s picks are aimed at adults—Reese’s pick for youth appears to have ended in winter 2022—and young people identify more with younger celebrities.

“This reveals a generational problem. Generation Z doesn’t relate to Oprah the same way as Generation X and Millennials because the “celebrities” they connect with are the influencers, YouTubers, and social media stars they grew up watching and listening to. – said Chris Reed, marketing specialist for the British company. “The way they communicate and relate to their audience is more personable and direct than the methodology used by Oprah, Reese and their contemporaries (…) the way they talk about and share literature is completely different.”

Digital marketer Maurizio Petrone agrees that book clubs targeting Gen Z are different.

“Their book selections also reflect pressing social issues such as climate change, mental health and diversity, which resonate with Gen Z’s sense of activism and their call for authenticity,” Petrone said.

Celebrities don’t usually dabble in literary territory, and it’s interesting because they’re doing it more often now. We already know that they want to promote books and literacy and share their current books with their fans, but that’s not all.

“I think it lets people know that they are not one-dimensional. I think for celebrities it’s about making themselves seem smarter,” the public relations executive told ABC News Australia. Some people have negative views of celebrities or pop stars. Thus, by starting their own book clubs, celebrities enhance their status or image. This is especially true in Jenner’s case.

“It’s also a way to keep the conversation going with fans and stay relevant when new projects don’t come out,” the public relations professional continued.

This is true in the case of McCurdy, who abandoned acting altogether and rebranded herself as a writer.

Are Oprah and Reese becoming irrelevant?

For now, these Gen Z-targeted celebrity book clubs lack the influence of Oprah and Reese. These two celebrities, for example, have their own stickers that publishers can use on book covers. They are also widely mentioned by publishers, and when a book is chosen as a pick of the month, its status increases.

There’s not much buzz around new celebrity book clubs—at least not yet.

Moreover, Oprah often sold a lot of books when she introduced them. She and Reese have adapted several of her book selections into films or television series. She also appeared in some of them. Gen Z celebrity book clubs don’t exist yet.

Book clubs continue to evolve in interesting ways. Book clubs have come a long way: from companies to schools, from small businesses to celebrities, from offline to online, and now to young readers.

“Celebrity book clubs targeting Gen Z are changing the way we think about reading and society,” said digital entrepreneur Liam Lucas. “They are aimed not only at improving literacy, but also at creating a space for young readers to engage with each other and the world at large.”

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