Innovator Spotlight – Mackenzie Newcomb
By: Cady Gallagher
While book clubs are by no means a new concept, they are thriving in the modern digital age. From big-name celebrity-run book clubs to tiny community-based book clubs (and everything in between!) the internet has made it easier for people to connect over literature and become a part of virtual communities. Online book clubs can provide an outlet for many people, and as we have been experiencing quarantine and lockdown, more and more people are reaching for books, as well as other community experiences facilitated by the internet.
Mackenzie Newcomb is the founder of Bad Bitch Book Club. She is an established blogger who wrote about her goal of becoming a more active reader, and some of her followers expressed an interest in joining her on this journey. She began the book club under the assumption that it would be a small group of people she was already connected to, but the word spread and in the first few months alone 100 people joined. That was back in 2017. Today, the club boasts thousands of active members.
Caldwell began our relationship with Mackenzie when she came to us looking to trademark her brand to protect her intellectual property associated with Bad Bitch Book Club. We consider Mackenzie to be an innovator through her experience with getting a brand off the ground and engaging so many people in an endeavor of her own creation. As such, she makes an excellent addition to our Innovator Spotlight series. She took the time to answer some of our questions about her journey with the book club so far, her experiences with intellectual property, and to discuss what is to come for Bad Bitch Book Club!
Have you always been an avid reader? How did your love for books begin?
Surprisingly, I have not always been an avid reader. I enjoyed reading as a kid and loved The Babysitters Club, The Boxcar Children and later Gossip Girl and The Clique– but I stopped reading for fun in high school and didn’t pick it back up until after college. It wasn’t until after the 2016 election that I really picked a book back up!
What was the inspiration for starting Bad Bitch Book Club?
In 2017 my New Year’s Resolution was to read 50 books, after years of not reading for fun at all. Not only did I accomplish that, but I wrote about it on my blog the following year. A lot of my followers decided they wanted to join me, so I created this book club so we could all read the same books. I thought about 20 of my closest friends would join, but it quickly became bigger than that. Within our first few months we had over 100 members, which seemed crazy at the time. I also chose to focus only on books written by women because women are underserved in the publishing world– and I’ve also never been a huge fan of the straight white male writers that everyone loves.
How exactly does the book club work? Who are the members, and how can people get involved?
We vote on one monthly official selection. I give everyone 4 books to choose from, all of which I’ve vetted myself. At the end of the month we (usually) have a Q+A with the author, or a discussion about the book via Zoom. We also run several seasonal elective discussion groups. This summer we’re doing one on Anti-Racism, Celebrity Memoirs, Elin Hilderbrand and Twilight– our members have very diverse interests! Our members are mostly women, and they tend to find us on social media. Anyone can join– www.badbitchbookclub.com
Tell us a little bit about the community that has come out of starting Bad Bitch Book Club.
Our community is amazing! Our members live all around the world– from New Zealand to Texas. So many incredible friendships have formed in our Zoom “chat box” and through our varying Facebook groups. There is even a super active book exchange group where people ship books to each other. It’s a sisterhood to some, and a passive hobby to others.
What was the first book you chose as a part of the book club, and why was it your first selection?
Our first official (democratic) selection was Little Fires Everywhere! This was in May 2018, before it was announced as a Hulu series. To be honest, I didn’t think much of it– just that I had heard really good things about the book. It was a group favorite.
What has your biggest obstacle been in your journey with the book club thus far?
Running a book club of this caliber on my own is exhausting. It feels like people want so much from me, but I am only one person and I have a full-time job. Luckily, I’ve brought on a leadership team to help, which makes a huge difference.
What role do you feel intellectual property has played or will play in the success of Bad Bitch Book Club?
I have worked so hard to create what I have. Intellectual property allows me to have ownership of what I’ve created. It protects everything I have built.
What is a lesson you have learned from working with trademark attorneys?
That it’s pretty damn expensive to protect your work, but a lot more expensive not to. Julie is my attorney and I love working with her, she’s so passionate about my brand and it’s made all the difference.
What is next for the Bad Bitch Book Club? How would you like to see this project grow and expand?
We’re launching a podcast this fall that explores the intersection of romance novels and personal relationships– I’m super excited for it! More merch of course, I’d love to get rid of the “middleman” drop shipping company we use and do all the shipping myself… but that’s a little way away.
One final question- what is your own personal all-time favorite book?
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid…. I am sorry, I cannot choose between these two 🙂