I recently stumbled across a rather lovely book subscription company, run by husband and wife team Adam & Chloe Pollard, called The Willoughby Book Club. I just knew immediately that this was a Bring Back Paper feature that needed to be written! And so, let me introduce you to them…
How does it all work:
Based in the tiny village of Willoughby Waterleys in South Leicestershire, the company offers a range of book subscription packages – including gifts for babies and children, ardent fiction fans, classic cookery buffs and budding gardeners – all available in 3, 6 or 12 month options.
The premise is simple. Customers simply choose a book subscription package, tell Adam & Chloe a little about the person that they’re buying it for, and the couple use this information to send a hand-picked, beautifully wrapped book to the gift recipient’s door once a month.
Each and every book is selected using the recipient’s individual reading preferences, so customers can be sure that they’re buying a gift they know they’ll love. The first book delivery also includes a bookplate with a personal dedication, written by the buyer to their recipient.
How did the Willoughby Book Club come about?
Prior to founding the business, Chloe had looked for a similar service as a gift for Adam on a number of occasions, and was unable to find anything suitable. Surprised at the lack of options available, the couple started the book club as a means of sharing their lifelong passion of great literature and beautifully bound books, and to help encourage and promote the idea of reading for pleasure.
Adam says “By tailoring each book to individual reading preferences and placing it directly in the hands of the reader, we’re aiming to break down some of the more obvious barriers to enjoyable reading. There are so many truly great books and authors out there today, that it’s often a case of ‘too much choice’. That means that reluctant or less confident readers are faced with the difficulty of knowing where to start…which is where we come in.”
Can you give us an idea about some of the books that the latest subscribers have received?
There’s really no limit range of books that our subscribers could receive, as each and every book is handpicked based on their individual reading preferences. But as an example, in our latest batch of deliveries our customers have received some of the biggest sellers of the last year, including The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.
Which of your subscriptions are the most popular?
Our most popular subscriptions are our range of Fiction packages. Our single most popular option, is our Bespoke Book Club. With this package, customers tell us their gift recipient’s three favourite genres, along with some information about their favourite books/authors (and anything else they think is relevant), and we use this information to hand-pick, gift wrap and send them a new book every month.
What are you favourite reads?
My (Adam) favourite book of all time is The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell. But I’ve very recently discovered the joys of Andrea Camilleri’s wonderful “Montalbano” series, which I’m slowly working my way through at the moment. They’re witty, sardonic, intriguing and brilliantly written. I’m managing two books a week at the moment, which isn’t bad going!
Chloe on the other hand, prefers coffee table books and cookery titles. Her favourite book is (and has been for some time), the beautifully crafted “British Baking” by Peyton & Byrne. She’s also just started reading “The Moneyless Man” on my recommendation, which charts a year in the life of Mark Boyle, who bravely opts to live money free for 12 months…
And finally, Kindle – yes or no?
Yes. We don’t think that the Kindle will ever replace physical books, because people enjoy the physicality of printed books too much – the look, feel, weight and even their smell. Real books are also an indicator of the type of person that you are, and the same can be said of a bookshelf packed with novels. And printed titles make much better gifts! These are all things that are completely lost with e-readers.
But having said that, e-readers certainly offer some truly great benefits for avid readers; not least storage space, the ability to personalise and the possibility of added user content.
In short, we see the future as a world in which e-readers and printed books live alongside (and even compliment) one another, rather than one superseding the other.
What do you think? One for the Christmas list?!
And if you enjoyed reading this, you might also enjoy a look at the Blind Date With A Book concept, pondering just How Do You Read Yours? or meandering into My Fictional World, along with many others….