Maine’s online book club company raises $1 million to expand

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A Camden book club business has raised over $1 million to add functionality to its website amid a boom in readers wanting to interact with each other during the pandemic.

Book club co-founder Anne Ford said some 13 million Americans are part of a book club. His company helps readers find other people with similar interests and guides them on how to start a club, virtually or in person, and how to run the club.

The two-year-old business derives its revenue from book publishers and authors, whose books and discussion guides it promotes and recommends. He also partners with booksellers and authors to sell books on his website.

Ford said the company wanted to raise an additional $1 million. All money will be used for technical product development, new features and marketing. The website currently serves approximately 350,000 readers, mostly in the United States, but some elsewhere in the world.

Ford started the business as a personal project to organize her own book club, but she discovered a lot of interest in the club and turned it into a business.

Readers also join book clubs through libraries, bookstores and social media posts, but Ford said its website is adding features to stimulate discussions and streamline meeting arrangements for members.

The company has six full-time employees, as well as consultants and part-time employees, all of whom work remotely.

“We saw a really big boost, certainly in the early months of the pandemic, but it continued today,” she said. “A lot of people were looking for creative ways to connect virtually.”

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