Amazon is testing a book subscription box for young readers. Currently available for Prime members by invitation only, the package includes two to four hardcover books per month for $23. To some analysts, the move is yet another way in which Amazon will get to know its Prime shoppers.
The marketplace plans to officially launch Prime Book Box for Kids later this year and will offer either four board books for children ages two and younger, or two hardcover picture books or novels for ages three to 12.
The service will be available on a one-, two- or three-month basis and books are divided into four different age ranges. Books will be selected by Amazon Books editors and subscribers will get an email preview of the box before it ships in case they'd like to swap out one or more titles.
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The announcement comes as no surprise to Georg Richter, CEO and founder of OceanX, a subscription commerce platform in the direct-to-consumer subscription space. Amazon is always testing new ideas; however, he does find it interesting that the launch coincides with a price increase to Prime.
"They obviously see the power of subscriptions and are looking for other ways to keep meaningful connections with their customers," Richter told FierceRetail. "Books, and specifically children’s books, are a great way to enhance that connection."
Richter points out that a big piece of the offering is the curation, as there is such a massive selection of books. So if the program is to find success, he believes the curation using Amazon editors and AI will be key.
When considering all that Amazon is testing in 2018, Richter finds it interesting that Amazon has chosen to target hardcover books for kids.
"You have to ask the question why Amazon would choose kids’ books as a category instead of the significantly larger markets of romance novels and mystery novels," he said. "The larger plan in my view is more about data and specifically data on families and kids. It is all about the data."
Richter adds that with this book club, Amazon will get additional information about Prime shoppers such as how many kids they have, the ages of these kids and their interests.
"Tag that onto kids’ interactions with Alexa and you have some pretty amazing (yet potentially scary) data on kids as well as the ability to help inform and shape their minds via the books you choose to deliver," he added.
Providing the subscription service to Prime members should be relatively easy in the way of resources for Amazon. The only possible challenges lie in marking to parents and quality curation over time.
So what does this mean for other retailers in the book space?
Richter points that Amazon more or less already conquered the book space, especially in the ways of e-commerce. However, he believes some local specialty brick-and-mortar booksellers still have a chance at competing in other ways with Amazon "because true experts who get to know you as a person can be the best curators of books for you," he said.
Richter continued: "Amazon is an amazing company, and they keep up by using access to nearly unlimited capital to innovate, grow, scale and enter new markets all while putting their customer first. In the future, I can see them getting to a place where every week or every month they send you a box of what they think you need or want, and then via Alexa you can fine tune it and return either in store or ship what you don’t want back."