Tech Desk

From the Tech Desk

Experience Book Tours and Book Clubs from Afar, through the Magic of Livestreaming

When you live in a town of a certain size, it's not too difficult to find book clubs that you can join if you want to interact with other readers and share the reading experience. In larger towns and most cities, there might even be a bookshop nearby where you can attend book tour stops and other author events. Typically, events and experiences like these are among the biggest benefits of public libraries and independent bookstores. If you don't have a library or indie bookstore near where you live, though—or if your libraries and bookstores don't sponsor book clubs or author events—it can sometimes feel like you are missing out on a vital part of the reader experience.

Author's Voice is a tech-based solution designed to solve these problems for readers everywhere. In the age of technology and live streaming, there is no reason that you have to be physically present in a specific location to enjoy the charms of a book event. On the contrary, while being in a bookstore for one of these events can certainly add to the experience, it doesn't define the experience. The most important part of an author event is the author's presence and what they have to say, while the most important part of a book discussion group is the conversation about the work in question.

Author's Voice seeks to bring both of these essential parts of the experience to your computer screen. Founded in 2005 as Virtual Book Signing, Author's Voice is based at and sponsored by the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop in Chicago. The program consists of four distinct event series, each of which will appeal to a different subset of readers:

  • A House Divided: "A House Divided" is the original Virtual Book Signing program and has its roots in American history. The series mirrors the core passion of the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, which classifies itself as a specialist "in material related to Abraham Lincoln, US Civil War, and US Presidents." The "A House Divided" series sees Daniel Weinberg, the owned of the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, interviewing authors about Lincoln, Civil War history, and books on these subjects.
  • Author's Voice: A more universally appealing series, the "Author's Voice" events invite authors of all genres to discuss their books and careers. The series schedule will include fiction authors, non-fiction writers, and poets.
  • What's It About?: The book club series of the bunch, "What's It About" seeks to unite readers of all ages in conversations about classic and iconic novels. The twist is that the series is led by Natalie Jose and Bobby Condon, both Chicago-area comics who keep the discussions light, sarcastic, and humorous. Upcoming books of focus include To Kill a Mocking Bird and The Grapes of Wrath.
  • Lady Bird & Friends: "Lady Bird & Friends" is like "Author's Voice," but for kids. Betsy Bird, the collection development manager at the Evanston Public Library, leads fun conversations with the authors of children's and middle-grade books. The series is said to be targeted at "kids, parents, grandparents, educators, and caregivers."

If you live in the Chicago area, you can simply look up the dates of the events, stop by the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, and experience "Author's Voice" or "What's It All About?" for yourself.

What makes the events from the four Author's Voice series unique, though, is the live streaming angle. If an author signing catches your eye on the "Author's Voice" schedule, just hop online at the scheduled time and watch the live stream. (Please note that, as of this article's publication, the programming list for the "Author's Voice" series is still forthcoming.) The Author's Voice website has an individual page for each event from all four series. About a half hour before an event, a viewer appears on the event page that readers can use to live stream the event. After events are aired, they are archived to the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop YouTube channel.

If there's one drawback to watching an author event or book discussion via live stream it's that you can't purchase the book in question from the shop—or better yet, get it signed by the author. However, the people behind Author's Voice have even thought up a solution behind this problem. Prior to each event, the Author's Voice website will host upcoming books of interest on their "Order Titles" page. Readers who are planning on watching the live stream or participating events can purchase books directly from this page. For author events, the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop will even get them signed by the author before dropping them in the mail.

Are you interested in learning more about Author's Voice or experiencing one of the series described above via internet live stream? Click here for more information.

Craig Manning is currently studying English and Music at Western Michigan University. In addition to writing for, he maintains a pair of entertainment blogs, interns at the Traverse City Business News, and writes for and his college newspaper. He welcomes comments or questions concerning his articles via email, at