Laingsburg teen launches book subscription service
Laingsburg — Cameron Allen was recently assigned to create a business for a school project.
He’s finished the assignment well ahead of the due date.
The 14-year-old Laingsburg student launched his own book subscription service earlier this year. The business, called Beacon Book Box, sends subscribers a newly released young adult hardcover novel every month. The slogan is “Shining light on awesome reads.”
Cameron tries to find books that they can ship within a week or 10 days of when they’re first released.
While Michael Allen, Cameron’s father, serves as Beacon Book Box’s chief of operations, the business is entirely Cameron’s brainchild.
“It’s his,” Michael Allen said. “We’re just here to help guide and help with the legal stuff that needs to be done.”
Each “book box” centers around a theme. February’s theme was “Storms and Serenity.” The book Cameron chose was “Tempests and Slaughter” by Tamora Pierce. March’s was “Out of this World,” which paired with “The Final Six” by Alexandra Monir.
Each box is around $30 plus shipping and handling. They come with a novel and a handful of themed treats like bath bombs, candles, posters and bookmarks. Cameron said he’d like to eventually partner with more local businesses to help supply the extra surprises.
Cameron spends two to three hours a month writing hand-written thank you notes to each customer. He’ll also spend hours just putting together the boxes. He creates his own small assembly line in a spare room in his parents’ basement, carefully packing each box with blue and white crinkle paper.
Cameron started thinking about the project last summer but focused on getting the business going around the holidays. He takes photos for social media posts, reaches out to potential vendors and scours the internet for his next selection. His friend Jaden Leatherman helps with social media posts.
Social media has played a big role in garnering interest in his book boxes, Cameron said. Beacon Book Box has a Twitter account and a Facebook page, although he said most of his subscribers find him through the book community on Instagram — also known as “Bookstragram.” The photo-sharing app has allowed him to make additional bookworm friends from all over, he said.
“Everyone’s been super supportive,” Cameron said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
In just two months, Beacon Boox Box has shipped to Guam, Philippines, Austria, Kuwait, Canada and France, he said. He didn’t want to specify the number of boxes they’ve sent out.
The business has a little more than 800 followers on Instagram. Customers comment on each post with questions about upcoming releases and the extra surprises in each box.
Melissa Allen, Cameron’s mother, said part of what fuels his passion is that he’s a fan of the books he’s promoting.
“This is his genre,” she said. “These are the types of books he loves.”
Cameron is a prolific reader, knocking out around six books a month (he tracks his progress with an app).
He’s an enormous Harry Potter fan. His entire bedroom is an homage to his Hogwarts house, Hufflepuff. Nearly everything in the room, from his bedding to a tiny reading nook, is adorned with Hufflepuff’s colors of canary yellow and black.
Four separate editions of the series are tucked between dozens of other young adult novels. He’s carefully organized them by series and author.
His favorite authors include Marie Lu and Sarah J. Maas. He especially likes books set in dystopian and fantasy worlds.
“I really like the character development in some of the series,” he said.
Daniel Morrill, Cameron’s U.S. History teacher, described him as an ambitious and hard-working student. Opening a book-focused business is right up his alley, he said.
“Most kids, if they happen to finish an assignment early, they might be opening up their phone or trying to play games,” he said. “Cameron will typically read a book. “
Cameron said he plans to use the money he earns from the business for college.
Cameron isn’t sure if he’ll be a lifelong entrepreneur. He’s considering a health career or possibly becoming a pilot. But for the time being, Beacon Book Box is one of his top priorities.
“I love books. I love reading. I think book boxes are so much fun,” he said. “Why not do that to occupy my time?”