Amazon’s children’s book subscription ‘Prime Book Box’ opens to all in the U.S.

Amazon today publicly launched a new perk for Prime members with young children, with the broad release of the new subscription-based “Prime Book Box” service. The $22.99 per box offering ships Prime members in the U.S. a curated selection of kids’ books every 1, 2 or 3 months, at up to 35% off the list price, Amazon says. The service was first launched in May, but was only available in an invite-only basis at that time.

Members will receive 2 hardcover books or 4 board books per box, depending on the child’s age.

The books chosen are curated by Amazon editors and include a combination of new releases, classics and “hidden gems,” and are tailored to the reader’s age range of “Baby-2,” “3-5,” “6-8,” or “9-12.” For example, some current selections include Amazing Airplanes, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Malala’s Magic Pencil, and Nevermoor. 

However, parents can log on to the Book Box site and preview their selections before the box ships, then customize the list as they choose. This would make sense for families with an existing book collection – because their child is older, an avid reader, or because they have hand-me-down books from other children.

If they’re new parents just starting their book collection, they may instead opt to just wait for their shipment, and have the books be a surprise.

The Book Box FAQ also noted that Amazon will use members’ recent purchase history on its site to make sure the box doesn’t include any books the customer had already purchased.

“As a mom who’s spent over 20 years reading and reviewing children’s books, the best part of my job is sharing a love of reading with kids and their families,” said Seira Wilson, Senior Editor, Amazon Books, in a statement about the launch. “Over the past few months, it’s been both exciting and rewarding to hear that Prime Book Box is encouraging kids to spend more time reading. Now that Prime Book Box is available to all U.S. Prime members, I hope we can inspire even more children to discover a love of reading that will last a lifetime.”

The Book Box service is another way for Amazon to retain Prime members – especially the valuable memberships from heads of U.S. households, who are likely to spend more on the retailer’s e-commerce site, as they have more people using the Prime membership.

And, as TechCrunch previously noted, the service will also help Amazon to build a reading profile for the family’s younger members, which can help it to improve its recommendations across the board.

It’s worth pointing out, too, that physical book subscription startups aimed at children have tried and failed to make such a service work, in the past. For example, Sproutkin, The Little Book Club, and Zoobean, are no more.

The challenge for some of these startups was bringing the cost down – something Amazon appears to have managed through its existing publisher relationships. But even in the case of those startups that had offered more affordable plans, they simply didn’t have the reach that Amazon does.

The timing for the startups may have been off, as well – they arrived at a time before we had fully embraced the idea of subscriptions for everything. Today, it’s commonplace.

Plus, Amazon also allows members to control the pace of the shipments further – you don’t have to pay monthly, which can help to attract the more budget-minded shoppers.

Book Box is now one of many subscription boxes Amazon offers. Others include Candy Club, beauty and skin care boxes, STEM Club Toys, and Carnivore Club. It also sells a variety of sample boxes to introduce brands to shoppers.

The service is open today for U.S. Prime members.