The Skype Book Club

2010-12-20 13:51
Cathy Marston
Since my entire family lives in various different countries around the world, I use Skype quite a lot and we have several webcams and speakers littered about the house. When I got an iPhone, it was really cool to be able to use Skype on it and treat it as if it were a normal phone, knowing it was costing me absolutely zilch to chat for ages to family and friends.

But I never realised the real potential until my friend in Holland discovered the Skype conference call. Placing the entire conversational burden of a phone call on just two of you can be a strain, especially when you are re-connecting with friends you haven’t spoken to for some time.

But with 6 people, there is more happening, more to catch up on, more funny stories to tell and more sympathy and laughter to go round – welcome to Skype Book Club.

So here is how it works:

- Twice a month or so, we agree a time, add or subtract an hour or two depending on when we live, open the wine and then the conference call is set in motion by Ms Holland.

- She links up with Dr Germany, Mrs Austria, Mrs Scotland, Mrs England and Ms South Africa and the game is on.

- Not all of us have iPhones – three use normal PC’s and the larney one of us has an iPad – and we have discovered that it is best for one of the city-based European folk to set off the call as they have the fastest bandwidth.

- We don’t use webcams since they don’t work on conference calls

- And that is all there is to it – well, all there is and more.

Obviously we don’t talk about books – does any Book Club? – but we chat about pretty much everything else and our calls can last anything up to and over two hours, all for the cost to me of about R1.50.

Over the last year we have gone through fortieth birthdays, an industrial tribunal, the birth of premature twins, a tenth wedding anniversary, an operation, a move to another country, cancer, sick children, well children, no children, perfect husbands, useless husbands, no husbands, success, failure, despair and triumph. 

All to the accompaniment of plenty of wine and lots of chocolate.

It’s now more than twenty years since I first met my friends in Freshers week at uni playing a dodgy drinking game called ‘Truth or Dare’. A lot has happened in that time and to be honest, I haven’t always been the best at keeping in touch, sometimes going years with little or no contact.

But since we started these calls it has been like having a warm blanket of support and love settle on my shoulders, because these women have seen me at my best and my worst and STILL want to be my friend despite it all. So thanks to Skype for giving me this shot in the arm and roll on next year’s conference calls: who knows – we might even read a book?

Would you consider starting your own skype book club? Or do you have one already?


  • Jacqueline Marshall - 2010-12-20 16:22

    If you are all using your PC's - Windows or Mac - you can now do group video calling for up to 10 people with the latest version of Skype. The feature is still in beta, which means it's still being tested, but it's good fun. Try it. Happy Holidays.

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