Though there are many initiatives to spruce up your reading habits, this unique one is just taking root in the country. A popular concept in the west, book subscription services are finding its foothold in Chennai too. And that’s what led Gayatri Nair to start Book-o-Box — a book subscription service based in Chennai, but catering to people across the country. The entrepreneur shares with us her journey and challenges.
Being a bibliophile, she used to dig the idea of book subscription boxes and follow these boxes on social media. “I used to wish that we had such varied options in India as well. During one such conversation with my husband, he encouraged me to start one myself, and I thought why not... From there on, it took a few months of research on packaging, designing and book curation. At the end of all those trials and experimentations, I finally launched Book-o-Box in March, this year,” says Gayatri.
With Book-o-Box, she aims to provide interesting/offbeat works of fiction from around the world. Each month, the book selected will be from a different country that are new/recent releases. — “That way, I hope to cover the literary scene in other parts of the world as well.” Apart from the book, the box will also carry a few surprise goodies as well.
So, how does it work? “Once the book curation is done, I collaborate with independent artists to create custom artwork that reflects the theme of the box. For the other bookish goodies that go in the box, they are designed in-house and I work with local craftsmen to get it ready. This is my small effort towards supporting local talent and small businesses. This helps keep the contents of the box fresh and unique,” Gayatri says, adding, “The customer can sign up for one, three or six months of subscription and the boxes will be shipped by the 15th of every month.”
Book subscription services are in the nascent stage and Gayatri says that there are many (outside the bookstagram community) who are clueless as to what the whole idea is about.
“It took a few months for people to warm up to the idea, trust in the book selections and the quality of the box. People tend to have fixed tastes and ideas about what they enjoy reading. Not everyone takes kindly to the idea of someone suggesting what to read or specifically to buying a book blindly,” she beams.
Though it’s been five months since she has started her initiative, Gayatri feels strange to call herself an entrepreneur. “I was always the one with the head inside the book, and the one behind the scenes. Starting this venture took a lot of effort and change in attitude. For a person who used to shy away from talking to strangers, now a major portion of my time is spent doing that. It’s actually fun to interact and work with all these talented artists and local tradesmen each month,” says Gayatri, who has a long-term dream to open a bookstore and reading cafe.
Currently what’s been offered is world fiction. Going forward, she is planning to introduce more genres, so that readers will have more options to choose from.