For Megan Dietz and her family, reading has become more than a tool for entertainment. When Megan’s mother, Jane, was diagnosed with dementia five years ago, her family wanted to find something she could use to help exercise her mind. Jane was an avid reader already, so the family looked into book subscription services to assist.
“Reading is a great way to keep her mind active when other things are complex,” Megan said.
The family found a service that would send books monthly, or once in bulk, but after Novel Bay Booksellers opened and the family started to grow a relationship with owners John Maggitti and Liz Welter, the family asked whether Novel Bay had a similar service – and it did.
Maggitti and Welter came across the idea in 2019 while visiting a book fair in London. They thought their customers might be interested in the service, and as it turned out, they were.
Although most online book subscriptions offer new releases and bestsellers – and everyone gets the same books – the version at Novel Bay is highly personalized. Customers can choose from four subscription types: fiction, children’s, young adult and nonfiction.
“We interview the person expressing interest to zone in on what they do and don’t like, what they may be ready to try, and just get a best understanding of how we can give them the ‘Oh, wow’ experience of a private curator,” Maggitti said.
Following the interview, the customer receives a recommendation of two books, which they take with them that day. For the rest of the year, the curators select one or two titles per month for the customer to pick from, and they ship them out.
So far, Jane has been enjoying her selections and the family members have found a way to help ease their stress. After her diagnosis, they wanted to make sure that Jane had things to keep her engaged, busy and working toward mitigating the effects of dementia.
“By keeping her brain active, we get to keep her around longer,” Megan said.
Meanwhile, the service is catching on with other customers.
“Each of us at the store now has one or more subscription clients we service,” Maggitti said. “It’s personal, and it’s fulfilling. It’s about as concierge as we can get – and this is something you can get only from your local bookstore.”
To inquire about the subscription service and start (or continue) your yearlong journey of reading, contact Novel Bay Booksellers, 44 N. 3rd Ave. in Sturgeon Bay, at [email protected] or 715.207.1484.