Book in a Box: A Different Way to Diversify Books

Book in a BoxThough many people have great stories and knowledge to share, they don’t always have the time or talent to write books. And that’s something the founders of Book in a Box noticed and have been committed to solving for the past year and a half.

Since the company’s launch, they’ve published more than 200 books.

In short, the team behind Book in a Box acts as journalists, interviewing their clients for 15 hours over a period of three to four months and turning the transcripts into books. Throughout this process, they place an emphasis on capturing the subject’s voice. Then, they handle design and distribution.

The end product is an ebook, physical book or both, with the subject’s name listed as author.

While the concept of Book in a Box is seemingly straightforward, COO and Co-Founder Zach Obront says there’s a bigger purpose at play here: the diversification of books.

“People who don’t already have big audiences, for instance, can publish memoirs through us. It’s just something that doesn’t exist traditionally,” Obront explains. “We’ll have clients who work in niche businesses as well. These are people with deep knowledge that’s immensely valuable to a small group of people.”

Obront highlights a book the team worked on called I Forgot to Die as an example. The subject was Khalil Rafati, a formerly homeless man and heroin addict who turned his life around and now runs a juice bar and yoga studio. While Rafati had an interesting story to tell, he had never used a computer and wasn’t good at writing. But now that Book in a Box was able to work with Rafati and tell his story, drug recovery centers have been buying his book and giving them out to recovering addicts.

Another example Obront provides is when a surgeon approached Book in a Box saying he wanted to write a book on running a surgery business. Because a book on that sort of subject targets such a small niche, traditional publishers might not be interested in publishing it. But this type of content is extremely valuable to aspiring surgery business owners, which is exactly why publishing it means something to Obront.

“There are only a few surgeons who graduate a year, so the maximum number of copies they can hope to sell is small,” Obront says. “If they wanted to go more mainstream, they’d need to take a different angle. We’re opening up that value chain.”

Book in a Box also targets people who are interested in publishing high quality books but may either be intimidated or overwhelmed by the traditional publishing process.

“Traditional publishers operate one slice and leave it to the author to screw up the others,” Obront explains. “Traditional publishing scares away people who are really busy. How do we help experts share valuable knowledge?”

On that note, according to Obront, the ultimate objectives of Book in a Box and traditional publishers are inherently different.

“Traditional publishers choose books that sell a lot of covers. They’ll turn you down if they don’t think there’s a big enough audience for your book,” Obront says. “For us at Book in a Box, we just want to provide value to readers and hope authors get something out of working with us. Like Rafati’s book, books we publish could be for personal goals.”

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Kristine Hoang

About Kristine Hoang

Kristine Hoang served as clubs editor at OC Weekly, an alternative weekly newspaper based in Orange County, California. In addition to OC Weekly, her work has been published in NBC Asian America, The Hechinger Report and Zocalo Public Square. Kristine holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California, Irvine, and received journalism training at Reporter Corps, a program hosted by Alhambra Source and sponsored by USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She lives and works in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter at @initialskh.


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