Most savvy web surfers of the last 5 years know of at least one or two subscription book box services, busily providing their niche markets with curated packages full of gifts related to the service they provide.
The recent book subscription box craze is not only a great product for readers and gifters, but it adds an exciting and fun new facet to the online literary community, promoting engagement and sharing across multiple platforms, making it a useful tool for authors as well.
So what exactly is a book subscription box?
(And how does it benefit both readers and authors alike?)
A book subscription box usually contains one book and numerous items relating to the book and/or genre of that box. The extra items for book boxes are usually art prints, bookmarks, candles, jewellery, tea, tote bags, and other small but fun gift items.
The contents of the boxes are a mystery, with only a theme, an intriguing name, and some sneak peaks on social media to suggest what’s inside until they are received and unboxed by excited customers (and often well-known bookstagrammers).
Generally speaking, book boxes are tailored around genre and the best known book boxes cater predominantly to fantasy, YA, and children’s readers, on a monthly basis. These boxes include:
- Fantasy boxes like Owl Crate, Fairyloot, and MarkedBooks.
- Young Adult boxes such as The YA Chronicles.
- General fiction boxes like Book Riot, and Once Upon A Book Club
- And for writers, we have Storyed Crate, a box that includes a wide range of helpful resources for writers and storytellers.
The subscription box craze has taken off like a rocket, and readers no longer need to leave the house to receive a fantastic new read and gifts that will enhance the reading experience.
The new fan’s desire to possess bookish merchandise is satisfied as everything from bookmarks to exclusive custom made jewellery arrive all packaged up and ready for use.
Boxes are ordered online and are delivered straight to the reader’s doorstep, making subscription boxes an easy, convenient and affordable way to get new books and exclusive book merch. They also make excellent gifts for bookish friends!
Benefits For Authors: Enhanced Engagement and Promotion
For authors the book box is a fantastic sales and marketing tool that not only sends their novels out to a wider audience, but also promotes engagement with their work. Readers are encouraged to share their boxes on social media platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter.
The readers enjoy a curated experience surrounding the story, and in their excitement share their shiny new book and all the goodies it came with on social media via images, hashtags and book club discussion threads.
The books and knick-knacks in the boxes are featured in shelfies, and as accessories in future bookish images throughout numerous Instagram campaigns.
Subscription boxes have a popular presence on social media, with Instagram in the lead as the biggest social media platform for book boxes as it's image-based.
Bookstagrammers are well-known for posting beautifully crafted images of their reading escapades, and book boxes allow for more unique and interesting pictures because they include the themed gifts.
This benefits the author because their books are front and centre of these beautiful images. The online book community are vocal, engaging and interactive - meaning the book will be talked about, shared and recommended by bookstagrammers to fellow peers.
This engagement is also helpful to the author because they can repost these images, providing more promotional content to help their author brand.
An added benefit for authors whose work features in a box is that of association with more established writers and different fandoms.
These connections can lead to other opportunities such as cross promotion, gaining new readerships and having specifically handmade and curated gifts which relate to their book in the hands of their fans and other popular authors.
These handmade items are hugely beneficial to the author because it gives the reader a tangible object through which to relive the story, and it is a great conversation starter!
They can share their gifts, discuss how the gifts remind them of certain passages, characters or plots, and/or keep the gifts in their bookshelves.
Many boxes also include a virtual book club dedicated to the featured book, where customers are encouraged to discuss their favourite parts of the novel, characters and theories.
As the book club is public, fans of the book can join in at any time.
Often the box will contain a book club question relating to the book which will spark initial engagement with the novel. The author is always welcome to attend book club sessions to engage with their new fans.
Book subscription boxes are community-driven and word of mouth travels fast within this community. Thus, if their book is featured in a box, they have a higher chance of reaching new audiences, spaces and fandoms which can facilitate new discussions.
Being featured in a box helps enhance author brand and reputation. It suggests that the author is established and validated by professional bookworms who have read widely and with intent to find quality titles.
There is also the opportunity for serialised novels to be featured as they are released.
And perhaps the most important aspect: book boxes result in more book sales! These boxes pay for their content, including the book, therefore increasing sales simply by being featured.
Benefits for Readers: An Enhanced Reading Experience
In the midst of the digital age, and with talk of the physical book going out of fashion, the book subscription box recaptures the romance of holding a real book in your hands, smelling the new book smell, and owning a beautiful object.
It combines the convenience of the online shopping experience, with the excitement and satisfaction of receiving parcels in the mail, while connecting the sometimes introverted reader with others who share their interest in an easy and safe online space.
Bonding over books in the library becomes bonding over Instagram, sharing gorgeous photos, ideas, and anticipation for new releases.
Readers can sign up to boxes based on genres that suit their taste, and after building a relationship of trust with successful recommendations can feel comfortable branching out into new authors, and related genres that are endorsed by the team behind the business.
With Bookcase Australia readers are also introduced to lovely hand-crafted items and their creators, which draws a new creative community into the bookish one.
The appeal of handmade items is evident in the success of Etsy stores, and the custom-made exclusivity of the items is a special addition to the experience of each book featured.
The reader is offered the opportunity to engage with their senses, smelling soaps or candles scented like trees from the fictional landscape, or drinking the main characters favourite tea while following them on their journey through the pages.
We cater to the desire for immersion into stories and characters by noticing and enhancing the small but important details of stories we love.
Case study: Introducing Bookcase Australia
Bookcase Australia is a fresh faced Sydney-based team, stepping into the ring of the book subscription box business world. Outside of our quarterly book boxes, we also run a blog, with a podcast soon to launch on our website.
We’re a team of excitable book nerds with a considerable creative streak and a love of collaboration.
Alongside our nerdery, we have a somewhat political stance, and want to produce boxes that are representative of diversity, highlight issues that affect our present social and political climate, and that bring to light local authors and creators who catch our eye.
We cover all genres, and curate boxes of high quality, with handmade items inside that suit the featured book, and enhance our readers experience of it. We do this with scents, art, accessories and knick knacks.
Alongside these items we provide book club questions, info on our contributors, and stationery items like bookmarks, and small notebooks and pads.
We are at the tail-end of our Pozible crowdfunding campaign for our first box ‘Fateful Fantasy’.
This is the only way you can receive this box, which will be released in October. For more information on this box and us, visit our campaign here. The campaign ends August 31st at 11:59pm.
For more info on us, and to get in touch, feel free to find us on social media @bookcaseaus and on our website at www.bookcaseaustralia.com.au.
You can also email us at [email protected] We’re excited to get more involved with the publishing community!
What are your favourite book subscription boxes? Share your experiences in the comments below!