Soho readers can enjoy new online book group

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By poppy_smith | Thursday, October 25, 2012, 21:08

The traditional book group is set to get a 21st century makeover as three London councils launch a new online forum to discuss books and promote reading.

Westminster City Council, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham Council will launch the new online group, 'Text Tribe' on 6 November at Kensington Central Library with a special appearance by bestselling author Mark Billingham.

The three councils' libraries and archives teams have created the new group in partnership with the Reading Agency and Arts Council's Digital Skills Sharing Project.

The group's first book for discussion is Mark Billingham's crime novel Sleepyhead, and publisher Little, Brown have already given away 120 free copies of the book in preparation for the launch event.

Text Tribe is aimed at adult residents of the three boroughs, but anyone is welcome to join the group and there is no limit on numbers of members. The group's aim is to promote reading and literature in a way that fits in with modern lifestyles and uses technology to bring people together.

The group will change book every 1-2 months, and future book choices and directions for the group will be dictated by feedback and suggestions from members. The forum is also open for more general discussions of books people are reading, outside of the current book choice for the group.

The Text Tribe group is the latest announcement for the three London councils' tri-borough libraries and archives service, which is part of a wider programme between the local authorities to combine senior and middle management, save money and keep libraries open across the three boroughs.

Commenting on the new online book group, Westminster City Council's Cabinet Member for Community Services, Cllr Lee Rowley, said:

"A lot of Londoners are so busy they scarcely have time to read a book, let alone put regular time aside for attending a book group meeting. So we're hoping this new online forum will encourage Londoners to read more while better reflecting their busy lives and increased use of technology.

"It will also help local readers to exchange opinions on the books they're reading with a more diverse array of people. It's good news for reading and literacy in London, and the latest in a string of innovative announcements from our tri-borough libraries service."

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea's Cabinet Member for Libraries, Cllr Elizabeth Campbell, added:

"By combining our service delivery we are not only keeping all our libraries open but through Text Tribe we will provide 24/7 access to a reading group and give people the opportunity to discuss at anytime what is exciting or annoying them about the books they are reading."

Cllr Greg Smith, Deputy Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, said:

"The online reading group shows once again that by thinking innovatively, it is possible to improve the library service we offer to residents. By combining library management, we have been able to secure the future of all our 21 branches – but you do not even need to visit a library to reap the benefits of this scheme."

Speaking ahead of the launch event, author Mark Billingham said:

"Reading groups are a hugely important way to spread the word about books and to share the pleasure of a good read with others. New technologies and the rise of social media gives us more scope to reach wider audiences, allowing us to enjoy the simple pleasure of talking about books with like-minded friends, no matter the time or place."

The 'Text Tribe' online reading group is available for anyone to join at The online reading group's launch event will take place on Tuesday 6 November at 6.30pm at Kensington Central Library, Phillimore Walk, London W8 7RX. The event is FREE but bookings are recommended. For more information or to book a place, visit the website or



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