Subscription services have evolved from your standard Cheese of the Month Club to today's varied array of monthly subscription boxes. For readers, this means that crates full of new books, literary gifts, and author extras are only a few clicks away. You can now effectively join a book club with hundreds of other people all across the country. But the media start-up Heleo wants to take book subscriptions a little further: their new service, The Next Big Idea Club, donates two new books to under-served students for every subscription sold.
The endeavor is being curated by bestselling authors Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Adam Grant, and Daniel Pink, who are donating 100% of their own profits to students through The Future Project. Every three months, subscribers receive two hardcover nonfiction books, as well as access to bonus reading material, e-courses, videos, and online forums to discuss each book with the curators themselves.
"We’ve all daydreamed about sitting down for a coffee with our favorite writer," Heleo CEO Rufus Griscom tells Bustle, "and that’s the exact experience we’re shooting for—each subscriber gets access to an online forum where Malcolm, Susan, Adam, and Daniel will be chiming in to talk about the season’s books."
The hope is not just to provide subscribers with a fun read, but to foster a community of readers who think big and support literacy for all.
"And we’re even more excited to see a community, a true book club, emerge among our subscribers, as the forum will give them the opportunity to exchange ideas and really get to know one another," says Griscom. "We’ve even had subscribers ask us for tips on starting local, in-person Next Big Idea Club chapters!"
The initial plan for The Next Big Idea Club was actually going to be more like an in-person conference. The idea was to hold a summit that would let the speakers and audience be in direct dialogue with one another: "We were talking last summer with some of our favorite writers about creating a new kind of summit, one that would be more interactive and led by the speakers themselves," says Griscom.
However, it soon evolved into a far more accessible service. "We liked the idea of also adding a year-round virtual experience for a larger collection of people, since not everyone would be able to make it to the summit," says Grisocm. "The virtual experience would deliver the most exciting books of the year plus that summit-like intimacy of discussing the books and ideas with Malcolm, Susan, Adam, and Daniel. Then we thought, 'Wait a second, let's start with the virtual club!' And here we are."
The Future Project was soon brought on board as a partner organization, to make sure that the Next Big Idea Club does more than just pay lip service to spreading new ideas.
"The Future Project is truly the perfect partner for us," says Griscom. "By embedding their Dream Directors in public high schools across the country, they empower tens of thousands of students to find their passion, enact positive change, and strive for personal and professional success."
The Future Project offers one-on-one coaching sessions, workshops, clubs, and events to support high school students in engaging with their own education. They also work with public schools on how to change school culture to better listen to the needs of students.
"We believe that the right book—the right idea—at the right time can be life-changing, so all four of our curators are donating 100% of their profits to provide books for students in these under-resourced communities," says Griscom. "We are donating two new paperbacks for every subscription sold, and we’re already approaching 2,000 books!"
The Next Big Idea Club is excited to share new nonfiction books both in and out of the classroom, but they aren't spilling the beans on their upcoming titles just yet. "We wish we could tell you, but that is super hush-hush," says Griscom. "What we can say is that there is an exhaustive vetting process—we have had lots of nominations—and the two winning books for our inaugural season are truly extraordinary."
For anyone interested in reading more nonfiction, expanding their book-lover community, and supporting under-resourced high schoolers, the Next Big Idea Club offers an all-in-one package.
"Our goal is to help you work a little smarter and live a little better," says Griscom, "and have some new mind-expanding ideas to share at your next holiday party!"