When my obsession with books was at an all time high during summer, I started searching for book subscription boxes from the UK, and that's when I stumbled across The Mystery Book Box on Instagram. The name of it was enough to grab my attention but then, when I did some more digging, I found out what's so mysterious about the box and loved it even more. That's when I contacted Elanor and we finally met in person this week.
The Mystery Book Box is a preloved book subscription box. Each month a theme is selected and second hand books are sourced from Charity shops based on this theme so that they can then be re-homed. For example, in November the theme was gunpowder, treason and plot, so all the books were crime and thriller novels. Only books in the best condition are sent out and no two boxes are likely to have the same one included, compared to most other subscription boxes which do have the same. That's the mystery about it!
Apart from the book, the contents of the box each month is entirely handmade by Elanor herself. I was surprised to learn how many different mediums Elanor works with. I was able to see her create her jewellery pieces on the day, but I also was able to see some items from her past boxes, which included a painting, pumpkin and candle from the Halloween box.
Elanor has been creative for as long as she can remember, and has often been to craft days with her mum. For her A levels she studied Textiles and Art but somewhere along the line she got side-tracked, and started studying Criminology and Security Studies and Birmingham City University. Having always been a creative person, Elanor couldn't leave that interest behind completely, so while studying she also took up the hobby of making jewellery. This interest in jewellery making then lead to the idea of starting her own business.
Once Elanor graduated this year she was ready to launch her dream, and it was her love for reading that progressed into the idea of starting The Mystery Book Box. After researching into buying books from publishers and authors, Elanor soon realised that it would be too expensive to go down the same route as other book boxes,
"THE SHIPPING RATES FROM THE US ARE VERY EXPENSIVE. THAT GOT ME THINKING OF MAKING MY OWN, BUT IT WAS SO EXPENSIVE TO BUY BOOKS FROM THE PUBLISHERS AND AUTHORS, WHICH MAKES THE BOX EVEN MORE EXPENSIVE. SO I THOUGHT ABOUT SECOND HAND BOOKS, BECAUSE I BUY SECOND HAND BOOKS FROM CHARITY SHOPS AND IT'S NICE TO GET A BOOK THAT HAS GOT SOME HISTORY IN IT".
As with any new business, there's a lot of room to grow and improve in the first few months. Elanor is already thinking about ways that she can improve what she offers to her customers, and although she's hoping to continue with making all the handmade contents herself, she's planning of offering a few new services that will give customers a taste for what's in the box. For example,
"IN THE FUTURE I'M THINKING OF OTHER THINGS I CAN SELL THAT REPRESENTS THE BUSINESS, BUT LESS EXPENSIVE. SO I'M CURRENTLY WAITING ON A DELIVERY THAT HAS A LOT OF CANDLE MAKING EQUIPMENT, SO I CAN SELL THE CANDLES ON THEIR OWN".
The Mystery Book Box has got three subscription plans to choose from, 3, 6 and 12 months, or if you prefer there is the option for the monthly box which would be a great taster for first time buyers. You can also keep up to date with Elanor on her very cosy looking Instagram account.