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Daily Court Reporter - News Ohio woman operates subscription box service for books


Ohio woman operates subscription box service for books

BRANDON KLEIN, Daily Reporter Staff Writer

When Amy Kelly's children were in the kindergarten and first grade, respectively, the Westerville resident found it challenging to keep the list of books to read before bed fresh. What does she do after reading one book 20 million times?

Another question: What does she do with the purchased books after her children's moved on to higher level reading?

The library could be a solution, but as one of two working parents Kelly did not have time to visit the location every week.

The issue became "light bulb moment" for Kelly. "I might have something here," she said.

A year ago Kelly started a subscription book service from her home, My Bookworm Box, for families with children in pre-school through fifth grade.

Customers have to pre-pay for the service and are automatically charged, while receiving a box of goods in the mail on a consistent basis.

Kelly and her family pack the boxes to ship out on a regular basis.

She said she's doubled the number of customers almost every month.

"I am just starting to hire some help. It's kind of been a family business per se," she said.

Subscription boxes are becoming more popular. Nearly 19 million Americans visited at least one such service online last year, a 24 percent increase from 2017, according to Hitwise, which analyzes online market trends.

Central Ohio has its share of subscription box companies, small and large.

BarkBox is one of the larger ones, offering monthly-themed treats and toys for dogs.

Since its launch in 2012, the company has provided goods for 2 million dogs worldwide.

The company has also expanded into new product categories and retail locations, according to its website.

"There's a really big movement in subscription boxes," said Kira Harris, a Dublin broker of subscription box companies. Harris is also developing a feature to complement Cratejoy's platform for such businesses.

Harris' feature would help inform companies what specific items would go in a themed box on the Cratejoy platform.

For example, Cratejoy's platform would notify companies that a book-themed box needs to be sent out. Harris' feature would go a step further to identify what types of books should go in the boxes.

It's a different kind of shopping experience compared to services from Amazon and other e-commerce sites, she said.

The whole point of a buying a subscription box service is "It's buying a present for yourself," Harris said. "It's a fun little thing that comes in the mail that you don't know what's in it."

The model is appealing because it takes the "psychological sting" out of splurging on yourself, Harris said.

Additionally, the business model has low startup costs. Harris said growing the business is a challenge and depends mostly on execution from marketing, branding and having a good idea that fits a niche market.

Harris said the majority of services take place out of someone's house, but she expects the trend to shift to large companies in the future.

And Ohio is a great state for the industry because it has a lot of fulfillment centers where subscription box businesses can store and ship their inventory instead of from their personal homes. Harris said businesses often make the switch when they reach about 300 subscribers.

For Kelly's business, she plans to eventually expand the offering of books to middle and high school students. She also plans to offer specialty-themed books for holidays and special occasions.

"We've been growing at a pretty good rate," Kelly said.

Date Published: April 30, 2019


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