We Picked This One for You
You've heard us talk about our flagship subscription service, Brilliant Books Monthly. You know we rave about how unique it is, how unlike every other subscription service out there, each book is individually hand-selected by our expert booksellers.
But what does that actually mean? How do we go from a handwritten preferences card to that perfect book every month?
It's quite the process. Each subscriber is first assigned to the bookseller who will be best able to pick just the right books. From there, each bookseller has their own process for sorting titles and making recommendations. We asked a couple of our booksellers to pull back the curtain and tell you what it's really like!
Rachel: "By far the favorite part of what I do at Brilliant Books is picking books every month for all of our Kid and Young Adult subscribers. These young people are so excited about reading, and unfettered in their enthusiasm for the new books they receive each month. Just this week, I had the best experience, meeting some of our subscribers who stopped into the store and introduced themselves, eager to talk about their books and to see where it all happens.
"As a parent myself, I have a unique perspective on how important instilling a joy of reading is at a young age, setting the stage for a lifelong love of learning. For that reason, I try my hardest to really look at what each subscriber expresses interest in and am keenly aware that interests change quickly. Some of our Kid and YA subscribers have had their subscriptions for years, so it's also a joy to watch them grow, seeing some of the books I've chosen becoming favorites." Learn more about Rachel's work with young readers.
Peter: "I pick most of the non-fiction books every month, which is probably the most fulfilling aspect of bookselling. I have been the non-fiction selector for some years, so I am particularly familiar with the reading tastes of many of our subscribers. It makes going through publishers catalogs a special treat as I will often come across a fabulous book that I know a bunch of folks will be enjoying in a few months' time.
"The challenge comes when a subscriber wants something in an area unfamiliar to me, or who has a very specific taste. Getting to research those titles is an immensely fulfilling task, made even better when the delighted and surprised reader lets us know that what I sent was apparently perfect. There’s an extraordinary satisfaction in knowing that a person on the other side of the country who I will never likely meet is reading and thoroughly enjoying a book because of my endeavors. Nothing beats that."
Caitlin: "I do all the selections for our audiobook subscription. On the one hand, it's a natural fit for me because almost all the books I read are audio. I usually get through several of them a week, and I love being able to read so widely. On the other hand, it's a bit of a challenge because unlike most of our booksellers, the people I select for aren't based on interest, but on medium. It means I get to pick books in all kinds of genres, and I've found it's really stretched my own reading habits.
"I try to get a sense of the things my subscribers would like, so I'm always jotting down titles and authors to look into. That's another aspect that's different for me. In addition to reading books and reviews, I also try to always check the audiobook previews. Most of my subscribers have particular preferences about the sound of the books they're interested in, which can be a particular challenge. One listener's idea of a "harsh" voice might be completely different from another's but the learning process is always fun. To go from picking that first book, which is a bit of a shot in the dark, to getting emails each month saying my picks were perfect—well, it's definitely a great feeling." Learn more about Caitlin's role at the store.
Jack: "I'm the primary fiction book selector. As I've been involved in bookselling for close to 20 years, I can pull from a range of experiences to pick across genres. So, whether it is international literature (one of my favorites), historical fiction, or a psychological thriller, I've always got some ideas.
I'm not often in the physical store (I'm a stay at home parent), but I'm always looking to see what great new titles are coming out. I really appreciate the challenge of making connections between authors and genres to help folks find new favorites." Learn more about Jack's role at the store.
Sam: "I am what might best be described as a Sour Patch kid when it comes to my book interests and selections: sweet but also a little sour. My experience working with kids and in the kids' section of several independent bookstores for many years has given me the knowledge I need to pick just the right books for our kids and YA subscriptions. But when I'm not picking cute and cuddly books for kids, I'm the go-to person for adult readers who love anything related to cults, true crime, and even your classic murder mystery. It's a strange balance that I truly enjoy. It's also pushed me to read more myself, which is an added perk that I appreciate." Learn more about Sam's role at the store.
Justin: "I have the pleasure of picking for some of our most fun subscriptions: the Fantasy, Sci-Fi, & Horror fans! I've always enjoyed paying attention to what people are reading, so having the opportunity to pick books for people to enjoy is an exciting job for me.
I love books that take you far away from real life and make you experience something you never could anywhere else, which is why speculative fiction is one of my favorite areas to read. Getting to share those experiences with our subscribers is extremely fulfilling." Learn more about Justin's role at the store.
Want to know what our booksellers would choose for you? Start your Brilliant Books Monthly subscription today!