BDS Members Satisfaction Survey

At the end of 2019, we asked our members what book club meant to them, and for suggestions on how we could improve our service. Below is a summary of their responses, as well an update on how we are working to keep making book club even better!



What You Said

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Interestingly, 63% of you have been in a group for
more than five years, which would seem to suggest that once you start, you find plenty of reasons to stay.

Contrary to popular opinion, very few groups cited wine as an important part of their meetings. Your top reason for joining a book group was to read books you may not have chosen or come across yourself. This led to a widening of your reading repertoire and opportunities to learn about new and interesting subjects.

A close second was the opportunity to discuss, debate, and benefit from the perspectives of others. You said it helped deepen your appreciation for a book — even if it was one you hadn't particularly 'liked'.

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Of 120 respondents, 15 of you mentioned how much book groups helped you to meet people when you moved to a new area. You also talked about the things you did to keep your meetings fun and memorable, which included inviting authors to join you, or indulging in a bit of fancy dress.

All in all, you are a pretty happy bunch of book-clubbers who actively contribute to the success of your own groups. You had a few suggestions for improvement though, and since we're always working to make book club even better, we've outlined our responses to your suggestions below.

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Responding to your suggestions


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Providing e-books 

We would love to be able to offer e-books as an option to our groups. Unfortunately, most publishers are resisting this change. Currently only a limited supply will ever be released as loanable titles with a temporary licence (which is why you still have to wait for e-books borrowed from a library, for example — they still only have a few digital “copies” in each city).  

We also want to avoid a scenario where we provide e-books only because the publisher is willing to offer them — we want to select books based on their quality, “discuss-ability” and the diversity they add to the Scheme. It’s important that we remain impartial in the book selection process in order to provide the best possible selection and service to our members.

We think this change is inevitable because the public deserve fair access to digital resources. We are willing to pay a fair price for it; hopefully in time we will be able to do just that.

Providing audiobooks

If you have trouble with your vision, we have an arrangement with Blind Low Vision NZ (formerly The Blind Foundation) that makes about 40% of our titles available as audio books. You can contact them to find out if you meet their criteria. They also have an “associate membership” option for those who don’t meet the requirements for full membership:

Improve book notes

A few of you thought these were very ‘average’ or too convoluted — sometimes to the point of impacting negatively on your meeting or your enjoyment of the book itself! How the discussion notes are received, just like with the books, varies greatly from person to person and group to group. It’s a little bit subjective and depends on your group’s background and preferences.

With that in mind, here are some tips to deal with book notes that aren't your cup of tea...

  • Please always let us know what you thought of a particular set of notes in the feedback slip at the bottom of your consignment note or by emailing us at — if the majority of groups are unhappy with a set of notes we will review them.
  • Use the discussion notes as more of a guide; an optional addition to your meeting. Some groups follow them religiously, others elect to answer just the questions that appeal to them, and some don’t use them at all.
  • Opt for newer titles with generic discussion notes: We have generic questions for fiction and non-fiction titles that haven’t had tailored notes produced yet. Keep a copy on-hand for other meetings where you don’t find the tailored notes to your taste for a more general discussion about the book.

Add more functionality to the book list

A few of you weren't aware that your book list can be updated and re-prioritised anytime throughout the year by logging in to the convenor section of the website.

  • Had too many books about WWII? — Scrap any similar titles from your list and replace them something else, or bump them to the bottom of your prioritised list to decrease the chances of them being selected next.
  • Group member feeling sad that none of their book choices have come up? — Prioritise one of each members’ picks and leave the rest of your list un-prioritised to increase the chances of everyone getting at least one of their choices in a year.

We're also happy to review your book list for variety, cheerfulness (a few of you had picked too many sad reads this year) and sensitive topics (e.g. bad language, violence or too much sexy stuff). Get in touch if you need help managing your book list.

Provide tips for convenorsannoyed 300x300

From ideas about how to keep book club meetings fun, to how to deal with difficult behaviour, some of you were keen to get advice on how to run a successful group. We're taking this on board and will be creating more content with the aim of answering some of these questions.

In the meantime, we've also started to build a community of book clubbers from around NZ on Facebook: The Book Group Group is a place to discuss all things book club-related: make book recommendations, ask questions, and share photos and stories from your meetings. It's a great space to see how other book clubs are run and get some inspiration for your own. 

Add newer books faster

We're constantly adding books to the Scheme, and they're now available even faster if you opt for 'generic discussion notes' (you can update this under 'Group's Details' when you login online). This means you can receive a book as soon as it hits our shelves without waiting for the tailored discussion notes to be produced. To stay up-to-date regarding the latest titles to be added to the catalogue:

Switch to eco-friendly courier packagingecobag 300x300

We already did! Learn more about our new r3pack compostable bags, the ways you can re-use them and how to compost them at home.

Give us more than 10 books per year

Some of you keen beans really miss us over the Dec/Jan holiday period (we miss you too!) To combat the lack of book club during this time, we recommend you sign up for the optional ‘holiday read’. This is only an additional $30 per group, so depending on your numbers could be as little as $2.50 per member. We also offer members a choice about which book on their list they would like over the holidays and we will do our best to pick that one for you — many groups pick a bigger read during this time to help tide them over for the Summer!

Also, if you are in Christchurch we sell ex-Scheme and other books from the front office for $3 which are very popular as we approach the holidays. You can also purchase these online in mystery packs of five for $20 including postage — log in to the convenor section of the website and go to ‘order products’ to do this.

Fortnightly books aren't on the cards yet, but if enough groups let us know this is something they would want we will definitely look into it.


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Scheme is a member of the Federation of Workers Educational Associations in Aotearoa New Zealand
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