Innovation That Matters

Books by gift subscription, hand-picked for the reader


The march of the subscription models continues! We’ve already seen a wide variety of products offered by subscription over the past year or so, from luxury women’s panties to limited-edition art. One we came across recently, however, adds a slightly different twist by replacing curation with hand-picked customization. Just the Right Book is a yearly gift subscription service from Connecticut indie bookstore R.J. Julia that sends a new book to the recipient every month, every other month or quarterly. Gift-givers begin by indicating the age group of the person to whom they’re giving the subscription — child, teen or adult — as well as the frequency with which they’d like the books to be sent and whether they prefer hardbacks, paperbacks or a mixed selection. They then answer a few basic questions about the reader’s interests, favourite books and preferred genres, as well as a reading level for kids. Just the Right Book will then hand-pick, gift-wrap and deliver the first book in the subscription based on that information. Along with that first delivery, however, will come information about the service’s Recipient Center, which enables those on the receiving end to provide more information about their reading preferences, make specific requests and offer feedback. In that way, the subscription gets refined over time to better reflect the reader’s tastes. Yearly subscription pricing begins at USD 49 for quarterly delivery of kids’ books in the paperback format. International delivery is available, and satisfaction is guaranteed. In fact, if recipients ever receive a book that they don’t like or have already read, they can exchange it for another selection. Such is the quality of the service’s selections, however, that Just the Right Book’s return rate is reportedly less than 4 percent. It’s one thing to offer a functional product by curated subscription—or to use a recommendation engine for personalization, the way Netflix does. But when you can deliver a manually personalized selection on a recurring basis, dead-on quirks and all, that’s when you begin to amaze and delight. Offer that in movies, and Netflix will have to watch out. Offer it anywhere, and ramping up will be your challenge. One to be inspired by! (Related: A curated marketplace for self-published booksOnline community promotes indie bookstores.)



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