The quirky way this online retailer is connecting with their customers

- November 24, 2016 4 MIN READ

As an online retailer it can be difficult to build a strong rapport with your customers, but Bookabuy – Australia’s first personalised book service – has found a quirky way to personalise and connect with their bibliophile client base.

Founded by husband and wife team Chris and Mel Tantchev, Bookabuy was born due to the frustration Chris faced when trying to find the perfect book for their first wedding anniversary – traditionally a paper gift. Mel being an avid reader, Chris wanted to find her something really special. Not having the time to visit bookshop after bookshop, he searched for an online service which could help him choose the right book – but there wasn’t anything available in Australia. And due to a growing trend toward subscription shopping services, they decided to launch Bookabuy.

Now the duo are offering customers a chance to receive a personalised portrait. Launching its ‘We love to imagine’ illustration series, Bookabuy has commissioned an artist to create bespoke illustrations of customers based on the information provided with their online orders.

In the world of online retail, it can be difficult to get to know customers on a personal level. However, due to the personalised nature of Bookabuy’s subscriptions, understanding its customers on a deeper level is essential to its success.

Bookabuy co-founder, Mel Tantchev explains, “We were really touched by the level of detail our customers provided with each order; sometimes they’re so descriptive it’s as though we can picture what they might look like in real life. This inspired us to create something a little bit different – a bespoke illustration of how we see them.

bookabuy-product-image-1“Even though we’re an online business and never meet our customers face to face, there’s something deeply personal about choosing someone’s reading material for them. Thanks to their detailed orders we’re getting to know our customers better than we ever expected, so this is just a little thank you for being so involved and helping to grow our business.”

Having successfully completed some trial illustrations, Bookabuy’s ‘We love to imagine’ series will now become a permanent offering from the book subscription retailer, with a new customer portrait commissioned every couple of months.

Bookabuy co-founder, Chris Tantchev, says the customer feedback has been extremely positive so far, “The customers who’ve received the illustrations loved them so much we’ve decided to make it a permanent thing. We generally choose people who provide us with the most interesting stories or those who have really engaged with Bookabuy. There’s no cost involved – it’s just something fun we’re doing as we build our community and get to know our customers better.

bookabuy-product-image-2To date, Bookabuy has commissioned three customer illustrations, “The first illustration we did completely cold – we had no idea what the customer (Kimberly) looked like. But she said it was an uncanny likeness, which was great because it could have missed the mark completely! For the two most recent illustrations the customers are quite active on Instagram, so we had the luxury of being aware of their physical features. For the next one, we will probably do another blind illustration.”

Customer illustrations



“I’m a secondary maths teacher at a specialist science school, so I love to learn about different things. I’m on maternity leave at the moment and love playing with my 3 month old son. I also sew a bit (mainly presents for babies at the moment) and I love to read but get overwhelmed trying to find new books.” – Kimberly







“I love reading, taking photos, shopping, tea, film, history and my friends, family and amazing boyfriend. I love getting immersed in new worlds.” – Kelsy






“This is a gift for our daughter Lily’s 4th birthday. She loves animals, princesses, the human body, laughing at poo jokes, cars, dinosaurs, fairies, food, music, making up stories from pictures, and learning about other families and countries. She’s funny – sometimes the oddest things will scare her in a book, but she insists on going back to it and talking about it until she finishes processing it, so a little bit of scary is OK. Anything that fuels her imagination to keep going with dramatic play is a winner! She’s starting school next year so we are keeping up the rhythm of reading together and encouraging her to tell us the stories she sees too.” – Lily

Customers receive both a digital and print copy of the illustrations. Anyone wanting to be considered for future illustrations can register their interest by contacting Bookabuy at

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