Edinburgh book club business soars during lockdown

Since lockdown measures began Edinburgh-based Rare Birds Book Club which runs a subscription service and digital book club has reported a staggering 52 per cent growth over the last four weeks.
Rachel is preparing books to send out from her living roomRachel is preparing books to send out from her living room
Rachel is preparing books to send out from her living room

At the beginning of the year, the club was just about to hit 1,000 subscribers per month, a split of those buying for themselves and those buying as gifts however, post lock down, the emphasis on sales has shifted firmly towards gift purchasing with hundreds of orders including messages of consolation, comfort and togetherness.

The pay-as-you go option has also taken off, with people looking to enjoy the service without having to commit longer-term.

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In the short-term, mail outs are now being done from Wood’s spare room instead of her headquarters in Edinburgh city centre.

Rachel Wood, founder of Rare Birds Book Club said: “My spare room is basically now a small warehouse, but it means we've been able to stay fully operational during lockdown.

“Once books are picked, packed and ready to go, they are collected by Royal Mail in a seamless operation that is completely contactless. My staff and I are all isolated in our own homes and have different responsibilities to keep us ticking over – I do the big send outs and individual orders are done elsewhere.”

Rare Birds Book Club offers members the chance to pick between two surprise books each month before joining like-minded subscribers in the digital book club to discuss this month’s read.

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Its ethos being rooted in a service that was both letter-box friendly and heavily digital has been key in driving the sales spike that has kept the business operational when so many others have temporarily or indefinitely closed-down.

Wood has also launched a podcast a few weeks ago, which sees her and two friends waxing lyrical about all things books.

She added: “The first few episodes were pre-recorded and ready to go, so we were able to launch quickly. Now in lockdown we record remotely; each of us with the same microphone we'd use together.

“We host the discussion through a video chat on my computer so it’s all online, and it's recorded by connecting the computer up with our soundboard to keep the quality high. Then we edit and release as normal.”