Random Ramblings

#132 : Boxed Indulgences!

My Instagram feed is filled with beautiful pictures of books and other book related merchandise. These pictures often have me digging deep and wishing I owned them. Just then, the blogger club I am a part of sent out feelers to members as them if they were interested in reviewing a book box. Being a total bookworm, I jumped to the chance. Sadly, I wasn’t selected by the company sponsoring the box. That’s when I decided to dig deeper and find out about book boxes. All my friends from the bibliophile community seem to be subscribing to one box or the other!

In India, the concept of such book boxes is just catching up. Surprisingly, the beauty boxes have always been around, while, book boxes were rarity and a bit over priced.

So what is this book box? I’d call it a gift from you to self to satiate that thirst to read new books and feel better doing so. Imagine receiving a surprise book along with merchandise related to it. It certainly is going to make you feel better.

A book box is typically priced between INR 599 to INR 1800 per month with offers on subscription for 3 or 6 months. These boxes are typically contain one or two books, depending upon the package fitting one particular theme. They also contain merchandise in the form of tote bags, chocolates, coffee sachets. Candle, figurines, book marks, scarves and what not! Typically, when you sign up, the service provider asks you to fill up a form which collects data on your reading taste and preferences. Most of these book boxes are themed. Also, there are customized boxes available if you are looking to gift.

books-n-beyond_march-2017_feat

I had the chance to catch up with Ms.Papiya Banerjee who runs Books and Beyond with her partner Pankaj. I  first saw pictures of their Harry Potter themed box which they sent out this month when a friend posted pictures of it on Facebook. I dug deeper and stalked them on Instagram only to find out a treasure trove of beautiful pictures of boxes they sent out so far.  She tells me that her team has sent out about 200 boxes just this month.

Curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to know what went into assembling a box. Ms.Banerjee says she first interacts with her the people who signs up and gets to know them. They are friends first, customers later. Having had a successful career in the Human Resources, she says it’s her job to know people. A lot of research goes on into the theme and the book of the month.They receive promo materials and review copies from various publishers which help them pick the theme and the book.  They mostly pick hardcovers or imported paperbacks for their books. Their priority is to deliver premium quality good which would be worth every penny paid. Apparently, they tried doing a budget box and got a lukewarm response. Evidently, their premium boxes sell like hot cakes! Dream life for a true bibliophile isn’t it?

Here is a little list of various book boxes available in our country (Not an extensive list!)

  1. Books and Beyond – They send out premium book boxes with top class merchandise. Their boxes are prices at INR1499 for a month to INR 3600 for 3 months.
  2. Kaffeinated Konversations – These people send out books of relatively unknown Indian/African writers along with goodies. Their subscription boxes range from INR 800 per month to INR10080 per year.
  3. The Bibliobox – They offer books with Unusual themes and cater for children too.
  4. Story Trunk – They send out themed book boxed and their July theme is pirates.
  5. The Big Book Box– These people have a book return policy. Their plans are named after variants of Coffee and are priced between INR 999 to INR 2999.
  6. Fiction Crate –  These people offer the lowest plan. INR 499 for a book and a Tee.

It’s a great feeling to receive a surprise book in the form of a literary care package! Makes ideal gifts for bibliophiles.

On the flip side, these boxes are a bit pricey and at times don’t really solve the purpose. What if you don’t like the book that they send? It’s just a gamble right? Moreover, the cost dynamics seem to be a bit murky. If I were to buy a book, I’d buy it on a sale. That’s how we are wired to act. If I were to buy merchandise related to books, that would also been purchased after much research and cost comparison. This would effectively bring down the overall cost I would incur. However, that surprise element wouldn’t be there and at times, all the money spent is worth that feeling of being surprised and happy!

It would be great if there were book boxes in India who also inspire writing. (There is one available from San Francisco). Most often than not, these goodies in the form of bookmarks or magnets end up being sent to thrash after years. A notebook or a pen or a writing prompt will make a last impression.

Hope to pick out a book box soon and write a review of it! After all, a gift from me to me, especially if it is after ages, is indeed special!

Drop in your comments please!

 

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