We've been serious fans of your boxes for a long time. Can you tell us a little about where the idea and name came from?
I am the book buyer at our little local bookstore in Westport, Massachusetts. We are a coastal town, which means we are bustling during the summer months and very quiet during the winter. So one day in January, I was in the fiction section looking at all of our new releases and wondering how to bring these titles to our readers in a different way—and in that flash, the idea for quarterlane was born. And with this spark I lept in! One of our main aims through the curation of quarterlane is to bring the trust and discernment inherent within a bookstore to the online space.
The name quarterlane came from my desire to not overwhelm people with books and dictate completely which titles they read and when. Sending three books quarterly, rather than one a month, gives readers a little space to choose and time and space to read. I am in a local book club, and I sometimes find that I rebel against the monthly schedule—it can feel like homework—and so I didn't want to add to that feeling of obligation. That's where the "quarter" came from and "lane" is my last name—I thought it flowed well together and made sense.
You have had some excellent people curate your boxes. What does that selection process look like?
We have had wonderful curators, thank you! When we feature guest curators, they are usually interested in curating a particular box, whether it be the aesthete, the epicurean. I then let them take the reins fully—there are no limitations on the books they choose and, in a few cases, a curator has specified the accompanying gift and artwork too, which is great. It offers a full glimpse into the curator, what they like, why they choose particular titles or items, and also creates a very unique gift! I really do feel that what a person reads and recommends offers a peek into someone's inner being. To share that with these special curations is magical, it's really a lot of fun.
News outlets have been predicting the demise of printed materials for years. What about curated book boxes and book mail in general do you think appeals to people?
You are so right! Media has predicted the demise of print for several years, but I think the tide is turning. Bookstore sales are on the rise and I think readers have found they miss the tactile experience of holding a printed book. I do believe there is a time and place for every technology, whether it is a printed book, a kindle—they can all play side-by-side. The most important thing is to keep reading, to explore new genres, new authors, revisit old favorites and bring in new ideas to expand and grow. But at night, before bed, there is no replacement for a printed book. For me, it is the most special and relaxing part of the day, and an actual book is inherent to that experience.
Do you have a certain reader or reader experience in mind when you select the books to include?
That is such a good question! I read in a lot of different genres, so I do try to not get too niche, but I think that is why having guest curators for quarterlane is important—to shake things out beyond my own frame of reference or point of view. The only reader experience I hope for is that at some point he or she gets completely absorbed in the story. When that happens to me, it's almost meditative and it is so nourishing and such a great recharge. That experience is transportive in the best way. It's in that space that holds the potential to change someone's life.
quarterlane partners with a local bookstore, which is such a great thing! How does that partnership work?
quarterlane partners with Partners Village Store and Kitchen, our local store in Westport where I am the book buyer. In my heart, I want readers to support their own indie bookstores and that is why I try to keep quarterlane small—just three books, four times a year. In this way, quarterlane is simply adding to someone's reading life rather than dominating it, and people will still go to their bookstores or their local libraries to choose their other books throughout the year. Libraries and indie bookstores offer such thoughtful curated experiences and really serve as an anchor for communities—we need them!
You mentioned that you have a background in art history. How does that training influence your work with quarterlane?
I do! I think the aesthetic of quarterlane has definitely influenced my work in art and then our artist-in-residence program is absolutely influenced by that. Asking an artist to create a custom print as a gift for our boxes was simply born from the fact that art is something that I always love to discover and I thought my subscribers would as well and it was a great way to marry these two passions. I also feel that books and art are so similar in how they hold the potential to crack us open and reveal new aspects of ourselves.
You’ve announced a quarterlane Kids and a quarterlane book club. Congrats! Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming projects?
quarterlane Kids is launching next week! I am so excited! The subscription aspect will be a bit smaller, two books per quarter, and a parent can select within an age range which will be fun! My own daughters are ages 7 and 8 and have really taken to reading in the last year in that we will read stories together at night as we've always done, but now they also read by themselves before bed. I just love it! I love seeing a child fall in love with reading.
And the QL Bookclub, stay tuned! One of my greatest joys is building community, and so I hope to create a space for readers to come together— whether they are subscribers or not— to celebrate reading, chat about books and with authors. All readers welcome!
Who are some of your favorite female authors and/or books that inspire you?
My favorite author from childhood is Frances Hodgson Burnett, specifically A Little Princess though I did love The Secret Garden almost as much. For me, A Little Princess was the definition of grace, goodness and hope. I also love Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. She is my kind of heroine—fierce, strong and compassionate. And I love the darkness of the Victorian Gothic. So, so good.