In season three of our Hit Subscribe podcast, we talked with Justine and Rebecca Woods, CEO and Head of Logistics at The Bookish Box. We learned all about how Bookish has naturally built a community around their brand as they’ve grown, and how they are enjoying the benefits of this strong community today.
What started as a book review blog and a way for Justine to uphold her reading habits turned into a thriving subscription box company. In 2018, after listening to customer requests, they moved from sending a box of curated goods to adding a book to each box.
“With customers’ demands, you have to weigh what demands are ones you want to meet and what demands are you ones you would say, ‘That’s just not part of my brand.’”–Justine Woods, CEO at The Bookish Box
Justine realized, however, that there was a bigger community out there that she could reach—not just book reviewers but average readers who devour books at the same pace. Now, The Bookish Box sends a monthly literary subscription to their customers that includes a newly released book and themed items related to the book.
How Bookish built their community
Community has always been a part of the Bookish journey. Connecting over a love of books is enhanced with community spaces and accessible social media platforms, giving customers a place to share ideas and stories with each other. When asked how important community was to her, Justine answered:
“There’s this really incredible side to our community that we like to hang out in, which is people talking about books they love.”–Justine Woods, CEO at The Bookish Box
The Bookish Box built their community through a number of efforts—and creating this community wasn’t always intentional, but rather something that happened naturally by connecting with customers.
Creating community spaces
Many merchants have created community spaces—such as a Facebook group—for customers to connect. Having this space can decrease customer support requests, allowing fellow shoppers to answer questions and share their specific experiences with a product or service. It can also turn out to be an incredibly positive space where merchants find new ideas on how to create a better customer experience, or even find product ideas.
The Bookish Facebook group is no different. Customers and book box subscribers can chat with each other and engage with the community. It has even become a place where customer ideas and suggestions are found and turned into real-life projects.
Informing customers through social media
Justine also shared about the weekly live chats she has on social media with Bookish customers and subscribers. Not only do these chats give a face to the name, so to speak, but they are a casual way for the Bookish brand to engage with customers and answer questions in real-time.
“We’re met with a little bit more grace than I think if we were this ominous group that we just sent an email and they’ve never met us, they don’t know who we are, and they don’t have faces to names.”–Justine Woods, CEO at The Bookish Box
Donating proceeds with every purchase
Another cool thing that The Bookish Box does is that they donate a percentage of their profits of every single purchase to meaningful causes. Through ShoppingGives, they’re able to donate a portion of what they make before it even hits their bank account. Last year, they donated just under $80,000 to Black Lives Matter, The Trevor Project, The Trans Alliance, and Planned Parenthood.
When customers check out, they’re able to see where part of their purchase amount is going. This builds community around the Bookish brand because shoppers feel like they’re part of the cause too—customers can even round up their purchases if they’d like.
“The donation is coming straight from our profit. And so, obviously, as our company does better, we’re able to give more.”–Justine Woods, CEO at The Bookish Box
Enjoying the benefits of a brand community
So, what can merchants expect from a strong brand community? A lot, actually. Not only does a community help you to retain customers and receive crucial feedback, but it can also help you create a great work culture and find new ideas for your business.
Utilize customer feedback
One benefit of a strong brand community, which Bookish knows well, is that you can receive great customer feedback. Whether it’s from a community group like the ones mentioned above or a customer survey, you can pivot easily and create new products or services based on your customers’ wants and needs. Making informed decisions is easy with strong customer feedback from your community.
Cut down on customer questions
Support teams exist for a reason—but often they can become bogged down by simple questions that could easily be answered by other customers. Bookish has seen firsthand in their Facebook group how effective shoppers can be at answering questions from other customers. Becca described how great it is to see this happening:
“They care enough to want to help those other people out, but also, it does make it feel [like] it’s our own little family….To see them return with that passion that we have is so exciting to see.”–Rebecca Woods, Head of Logistics at The Bookish Box
Attract like-minded employees & build a great culture
Attracting employees to work for them has been another great benefit to come out of the strong brand identity Bookish has created. People have been drawn to work for them based on the values they uphold as a company (including their efforts to give back) and their common love of books. Bookish has worked hard to maintain a culture where everyone is taken care of and where employees are excited to come to work each day.
“It is really cool because I think our office has this really bright, positive aura of people who are kind to each other, people who genuinely care about what we’re doing.”–Justine Woods, CEO at The Bookish Box
Inspired community building with Bookish
Creating connection between people can have so many benefits for your brand—as showcased by The Bookish Box. Justine and Rebecca shared with us the countless ways that Bookish has created a community, thanks to a love of books and sharing common values with their customers and employees.
Check out the full interview with Justine and Rebecca, as well as conversations with other industry experts, on our Hit Subscribe podcast.
 How The Bookish Box turned a hobby into a business (Hit Subscribe podcast)
 How to build a genuine brand community (Recharge)