Mike Edwards loves crime fiction. While looking around for a mail-order subscription service dedicated to the genre, Edwards was surprised he couldn’t find one that would deliver books to his home in Ottawa. And so he decided to launch his own.
“I remember reading an article that mentioned crime-fiction sales were steady and always at the top or near the top in terms of [the bestselling] genres,” Edwards writes in an email. “I couldn’t understand why nobody was offering a book box for crime books.”
After a late night of collaboration with a few friends in early February, Crime Fiction Subscription was launched. A few days later, they received their first order. By March 1, the service had already shipped 25 book boxes across Canada.
A standard monthly box of two titles costs $29.99, while the Big Book Box, available for $49.99, delivers five books monthly to its subscribers. Yearly subscriptions are also offered for each box at $329.99 and $499 respectively, and shipping for all options is always free. To date, the Big Book Box is the most popular seller.
At the moment, subscriptions are only available in Canada, but Crime Fiction Subscription is working with book influencers to spread the service into the U.S. The titles featured in the boxes are selected via author submissions and solicitations and include the organizers’ personal favourites and new releases. Currently, books are either purchased wholesale or directly from authors, but a direct deal with a publisher for a dedicated short run is currently in the works.
“We read them all first to make sure we enjoy them, and then away they go,” says Edwards. Not all customers receive the same titles every month, and if they’re unhappy with a selection, they’ll receive an extra book the next month.
“Ultimately, there are certain titles or authors that our subscribers would like to avoid, and we’re diligent in making sure those specifics are noted in their files when it comes to deciding on the next month’s boxes,” he says.
Edwards says he likes the idea of including at least one Canadian author in every order. “I think we’ve got a lot of great writers here and I’d like to play a small part in showcasing them,” he says. March’s boxes included titles by Canadian authors Louise Penny, Sam Wiebe, and Linwood Barclay. “We’ve been asking [Canadian] writers to submit their works to be added to our boxes and that response has been great.”
Most box services only send packages once a month. For example, an order placed March 5 wouldn’t arrive until the first week of April. But Crime Fiction Subscription boxes ship a week after ordering. “This always seemed a bit silly to me,” says Edwards. “You’re all excited to receive your first box, you purchase, and then have to wait four weeks? No way.”
Edwards, whose primary occupation is in finance, says his day job gives him the ability to work on this labour of love. And he’s not restricting himself to the mystery genre: he recently set up another subscription service called the Sports Book Box, which offers mail-outs of baseball, football, basketball, soccer, and hockey titles.