A bookworm’s favourite paper treat
Book of the Month does not chuck its readers into the vortex of infinite choices. It offers its subscribers five examples of literary excellence, and they can choose what they like best.
In the Columbian countryside live two donkeys named Alfa and Beto, who became famous because their owner, the teacher Luis Soriano, regularly loads them with two boxes full of books, after which they head to the nearby village together, visiting the inhabitants who want to read, and most importantly, the children who can’t afford to.
Biblioburro is a true travelling library, exceptional on a global scale, and Soriano is a man who regularly witnesses the magic that happens when surprise and imagination spark inside a person seeing a book. It makes him feel joy. He says he sometimes even sheds a tear.
Each month, the subscribers to Book of the Month are surprised by a selection of five books, among which they pick one to read by the time the next package arrives.
Elsewhere in the world, we don’t spend much time thinking about all the ways one can transport and deliver books, but we do care about their contents. They take us to outer space, to imaginary worlds, among the people we start by not knowing at all, and who can become our life companions, by the time the book is close to done.
There is a publishing house called Book of the Month. It brought us Gone With the Wind, after which the famous film was made, as well as Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, and they were the first to publish The Catcher in the Rye. They searched for talented writers, whose works could remain relevant decades after first being published.
The publishing company has been around since 1926, and until 2015, it printed books and sold them in book stores. When the latest crisis ruined its business plans, it almost gave up, but new management helped it get back on its feet, somewhat transformed.
Now it only sells books online, but not like any other publishing house. It created the online club, Book of the Month, and started looking for subscribers. It makes no effort to hide that it’s mostly looking for women.
In two years, it created a community of over 100,000 subscribers, along with 300,000 followers on Instagram. It encourages everyone, not only to read the books, but also to talk about them.
The monthly discussion is started by the selected guests, mainly well-known American entertainers, who recommend a book and explain why they chose it. Five of the recommended books then go online, into the subscribers’ personal profiles.
The publisher with a nearly 100-year tradition has changed its approach following the latest economic crisis. It now only sells books online.
The readers who, following the principles of life per month pay 14.99 dollars, check the selection in their profiles and decide which of the suggested books they want to read by the time they receive the next package. Even though the communication takes place entirely online, the book is a tangible, paper product. If they need more than one, they can pay an extra 9.99 dollars to get a second book.
There are many variations of this type of model of the subscription economy. Some offer a pack of coffee with the book, or perhaps a scented candle, or a pair of socks. But Book of the Month decided that the selected book should be the only present. However, they do add an occasional surprise.