A-Z inventions of Covid-19: Reading subscription boxes

The November Tier 2 Blue Moon Box from The Moon bookstore includes Bestiary by K-Ming Chang, Strangers by Rebecca Tamas, an essential oil roll-on, bookmarks and a drink token. PHOTO: THE MOON

How do you get new books without leaving home?

Bibliophiles were left bereft when bookshops and libraries shut abruptly during the circuit breaker period, but then came the resurgence of book subscription boxes.

These boxes are usually dispatched on a monthly basis and contain a selection of books - and sometimes other merchandise, from bookmarks to toys - carefully curated by booksellers.

Demand for such subscriptions got a boost during the circuit breaker, for services such as My Messy Box, Squizzel Box and Josh & Cherie Books, as parents sought new ways to keep young children occupied at home.

In October, the National Library Board (NLB) piloted The Little Book Box, which delivers eight English-language children's books to customers every month for a fee of $10.70.

All 1,000 slots were snapped up in five days, including 200 subscriptions sponsored by The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund for children from low-income families.

The first boxes included titles by local authors such as Ruth Wan-Lau and Eliz Ong's Timmy & Tammy At Chinatown and Once Upon A Singapore... Traders by Tina Sim and Alan Bay.

The service will run until July next year. NLB says it has received feedback from parents on expanding the selection to mother-tongue books.

Also in October, indie bookshop The Moon launched its Blue Moon Box, which sends books that are either new releases or underappreciated backlist titles.

The Tier 1 box ($32), for example, last month included hot-off-the-press debut novel Bestiary by K-Ming Chang, a fabric mask, bookmark and drink token for use at The Moon's cafe. Upgrading to Tier 2 ($65) meant getting a second book - essay collection Strangers by Rebecca Tamas - and an essential oil roll-on.

A third box option is in the works and will be announced in the next few months.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 20, 2020, with the headline A-Z inventions of Covid-19: Reading subscription boxes. Subscribe