Fiction in a goodie box
By Abinaya Kalyanasundaram | Express News Service | Published: 02nd January 2018 11:04 PM |
CHENNAI: Forget libraries and e-books, book box subscription services are on the rise in the city, with two new start-ups by bibliophiles, Book-o-Box, and Feathery Neon Crate. A box full of books, chocolates, bookmarks and other assorted goodies delivered right at your doorstep every month — how great does that sound!
Though book-box subscription services started only recently in Chennai, they have been prevalent abroad for many years now, says Gayatri, founder of Book-o-box. “I loved the idea of it and wished we had such varied options in India as well. During one such conversation with my husband, he encouraged me to start one myself, and so I did!” she says.
After some months of research on packaging, designing and book curation, she launched Book-o-Box in March last year. “The books selected are from a different country/language each month and are recent releases. That way I hope to cover the literary scene in other parts of the world as well and not just what’s mainstream,” she explains.
The past boxes from Book-o-box have covered several critically acclaimed and award-winning debut novelists and their translated fiction — Korean, American, Nigerian, Spanish, Hebrew etc. and Gayatri personally reads every book before selection. “Once the book is selected, I collaborate with independent artists to create custom artwork that reflects the theme of the box like author portraits, postcards, illustrations, etc, For the other bookish goodies that go in the box, it’s designed in-house and I work with local craftsmen to create them,” she says.
When Priyanka Madhavan, a pre-final year MBBS student, and self-confessed book worm, came across this she decided to begin one too, and partnering with a friend, Jerald Yogeshkumar, she started Feathery Neon Crate in August last year. Priyanka takes care of the curation and themes, and Jerald takes care of all the logistics. They began their foray by having a free giveaway contest through Instagram — giving away books to 5 lucky winners.
The first month’s Welcome Box received a great response, selling out to 16 subscribers not only form Chennai but also other states! The welcome box included a book of subscriber’s choice and few other goodies related to the book’s theme — such as, candles, bookmarks, puzzles, art items (sourced from artists who sell on Instagram), a short story written by upcoming writers etc.
Thereafter, each month had a specific theme — September was about Man Booker prize nominated and winning books, such as ‘The Sellout’ by Paul Beatty (2016); October was ‘From stars to Turtles’ and December was Christmas and New-year themed, where they debuted their mini-box. “We note down the subscriber’s favourite authors and genres, and select a book on our, as a surprise to the customer,” explains Jerald.
A box of surprise books is enough to send a bibliophile into a frenzy, yes, but there’s a minor nagging thought... ‘but what if I already have the same book!’. “To avoid that, we give some kind of hint. Sometimes we give a list of books to choose from, or the author’s name etc,” Priyanka reassures.
Book box subscription services operate through social-media platforms, principally Instagram, where bibliophiles have a strong worldwide community under the hashtag Bookstagram. Since its digital platform, it was challenging to get the subscribers’ trust, in the beginning, rues Priyanka. “But gradually, seeing the posts by customers, people gained trust in us and now it’s grown very well,” she says.
Gayatri admits that initially, many were clueless as to what the whole idea was about. “But now after 10 months, I can say subscribers genuinely like the book selections and they love the personal touch that I add to the boxes. And many re-subscribe, which shows that I’m doing something right here,” she smiles, adding that she plans to diversify her theme from world fiction to short stories and poetry soon.
Three types of subscription plans. You can opt to subscribe for just one month to try us out or can go for the 3 or 6 months plan
1 month subscription plan —
3 month subscription plan — `2,550 (850 *3)
6 month subscription plan — `4,500 (750*6)
(All prices include applicable taxes and postage)
Place orders through —
Instagram and Facebook — Bookobox
Feathery neon crate
January box — Favourite author theme
Premium box- 2 book + 7 items + surprise item (`1,299)
Normal box — Hardcover book+ 7items (`899)
Mini box — 4 items +1 book (`599)
Customised boxes also available
Place orders on Instagram or Facebook — Featheryneoncrate