Now readers of blogs can choose to not read books the cheap way. Elizabeth Wagley, a communications adviser for Doctors of the World, has founded the Progressive Book Club, which hopes to harness the power of the Internets and is already off to a good start by complimenting the vast competitive conspiracy: "The right has always understood the power of ideas, the power of books as legitimizers of ideas," Wagley tells the New York Times. Unfortunately, at about $1 a book, her left-wing pricing is as mercenary as the middle-aged and grumpy Conservative Book Club. Also, Michael Chabon, Erica Jong, and Todd Gitlin choose your monthly selections, so hope you like chess-playing Zionist sex fiends obsessed with the sixties.
Michelle Berger, the Progressive Book Club's chief operating and marketing officer and a 10-year veteran of Bertelsmann's book clubs, said readers still wanted someone to "cut through the clutter" of titles. The new club, she said, would also improve on the old model by eliminating paper catalogs and offering a social networking component on its Web site, as well as the opportunity for members to form local book discussion groups.
Await the MySpace widget for "I applaud Michael Harrington's attempt to bring class back into the national conversation." But will going online boost sales? Bloggers who write books haven't been so successful (we have the Venn diagram to prove it). And one reason — oddly unmentioned in the Times piece — why politically oriented book clubs are suffering from diminishing returns is that their target readers are too busy exiling each other from Daily Kos, or watching Michelle Malkin do this on YouTube.