These are hard and frightening times, but as public life comes to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic, virtual literary communities are emerging in vital and unexpected ways, from Zoom to Instagram: book clubs, salons, readings, conversations… Which is why we’re launching The Virtual Book Channel, to amplify those voices and provide the best possible platforms for writers to reach their readers.
It has been great to see people coming together in such difficult times, even as they must remain physically apart. Books are still being published, bookstores are trying to survive, and we want to do everything we can to help support the literary community. Look, before all this I was never a huge fan of FaceTime or Google Hangouts, but I have already become starved for the easy camaraderie of normal human interaction. Frankly, I miss faces! And it seems like I am not alone.
So, The Virtual Book Channel will feature original programming—Shelter in Place, Maris Kreizman’s virtual book party, Playback, a 5-minute self-interview series for writers with new books coming out, and Rekindled, previously scheduled book tour conversations made virtual—along with emerging digital contributions from existing reading series’, bookstores, poets, and more. Episode one of Shelter in Place, featuring Maris Kreizman and Kevin Nguyen (author of New Waves), debuts this afternoon, Friday, March 20, 1pm EST here at LitHub.com.
As members of the literary community we also feel a responsibility to support bookstores in whatever way we can during this pandemic. To that end, every show on The Virtual Book Channel will be a rallying point for people to buy books, gift certificates, and offer material support to the bookselling community. Also, if you want to call The VBC “The Veeb,” that’s fine with me.
Every Friday (beginning next week) The VBC will publish a schedule of the coming week’s offerings (think TV Guide c. 1986), and will partner with Electric Literature, The Believer, and a growing network of outlets to get as many writers in front of as many readers as possible. The VBC is a curated channel that will archive all of its live-streamed programming, and will live simultaneously at LitHub.com, Vimeo, and through partner sites. We are looking for both regular programming and one-off specials, so interested contributors can email me, Jonny Diamond, at email@example.com.
The VBC was not even an idea three days ago, so we’ll be moving on the fly and trying to figure out the best way to get writers connected to readers, and to create the kinds of literary spaces that make us all feel a little less isolated. We’re also trying to move quickly with closed captioning and transcripts to make the shows as accessible as possible. But please bear with us, this is a work in progress.
The Virtual Book Channel:
Regular Programming (so far)
Shelter in Place: Maris Kreizman in conversation with writers about what it’s like to have their books come out during a time of crisis. (Throughout the week.)
Playback: Authors choose from a host of questions and interview themselves about life, writing, and their brand new books, all in ten minutes. (TBD)
Rekindled: Bringing previously scheduled book tour conversations back to life, Rekindled features all the in-depth engagement of an in-store event with none of the “more comment than a question” guys. (TBD)
Decameron Reading Series: Brian Gresko hosts a weekly reading and Q and A named for the Bocaccio classic. People whiling away their quarantine nights telling tales to one another? Yes. (Tuesdays at 8pm EST)
The Online Literary Happy Hour: Matt Bell hosts an informal reading and conversation with writers Amber Sparks, Megan Giddings, and Mary South. (one-time special, today, Friday at 5:30 EST)