Oh boy. This is going to be a doozy.
This is going to be a review in two parts. Both Erin and Jennie have some things to talk about in regards to the company that is Book Beau, and and not much of it is good.
When you talk about book sleeves everyone talks about Book Beau. It’s become like Kleenex, Book Beau has become the IT term for book sleeves, whether they are made by that company or not. And honestly, I don’t get the hype over actual Book Beaus.
The original Beaus were fine. They were handmade, had pretty prints, but they were very basic. Tons of other sleeve makers have long surpassed Book Beau in style, adding pockets and clasps and flaps that make the sleeves much more functional.
Besides that, the owner of Book Beau has had a reputation for sending out threatening cease and desist type letters to other sleeve makers, as if she was the only person who could corner the market on book sleeves. Just because she was the first to get name recognition does not mean she can claim that everyone else is stealing her idea.
So with that in mind, and the Kickstarter drama (which Jennie will talk about later) I sat down to look at these so called “new” manufactured Book Beaus.
First, I have to say this galaxy sleeve (pictured above) is ugly as sin. The fabric is faded and worn looking and I highly doubt it will stand up to any wear and tear. It’s a basic sleeve with very little to make it stand out among not only competitors but also Book Beau’s own handmade line. These new Beaus are completely inferior and from what I’ve seen have no quality control between manufacturing and delivery.
Many Beaus are cut crooked, different sizes from end to end, have deep wrinkles in the fabric, or come dirty or torn. Owlcrate Beaus have been the same, having even more sizing issues and inconsistencies among people who have received boxes. Some are large, others much too small. I would have expected that a manufactured product would have more uniformity among its pieces, not less, but in the case of Book Beau that’s not what you see.
I honestly wouldn’t touch Book Beau right now. Their customer service and quality control is seriously lacking and their product is just a mess. Between people receiving damaged or flawed goods, or not receiving them at all it’s not a company I have any confidence in. Spend your money elsewhere.
So, for my birthday my wonderful friend Liz sent me a handmade sleeve (not by Book Beau). I really liked it, and it was my first one. So when a bunch of my bookish friends were talking about a Kickstarter for something called Book Beau – I thought, WHY NOT?
I had a look at the options and decided to back for one INDIE sized beau. From the photos on the website, they looked really well made, high quality items. I wasn’t too keen on many of the choices of fabrics until a galaxy one was released that looked super awesome. I chose that fabric when the time came.
And then the waiting began.
Now, with any new business, there is bound to be some bumps in the road. Book Beau sent out an email saying that though they’d promised to start shipping our beaus in July, that the date had been pushed back. Most of us who ordered backed this campaign in April or even March. I didn’t really see it as much of an issue because I’d only ordered one and backed for a total of $25. I could wait a little bit longer for just one book sleeve.
But then it arrived at the end of August.
To say I was disappointed was understating it. First of all, I must point out that I didn’t get a shipping notification for my beau, it just randomly showed up. (I did, however, get a shipping notice about a week and a half AFTER my beau had arrived). When I opened it, I had in my minds eye the fabric I had chosen, and when I pulled out my beau, it was absolutely, 100% NOT what I thought I’d picked out. (The beau Erin has pictured above was my first beau). I thought I was getting a product that looked like this (photo is not mine, but from the Kickstarter website) :
But what I received was VASTLY (and I mean VASTLY) different. It looked NOTHING like this print. Also, it was poorly made, wrinkled. The inside was just a piece of foam, and the stitching was coming out. Overall, I was super disappointed. I wasn’t sure what to do, but then I saw other people on Twitter were having the same reaction to the Nebula print and decided to say something.
I got a notification from Book Beau to contact their customer service, that “This shouldn’t have gone out like this, and we will fix it!”. So I contacted them.
Basically, what they told me was that they were “sorry for the condition that I received my beau in. To make up for this, we would like to offer you a 40% discount and $25 gift card once our storefront opens up.”
Ok, but……. guys. I have this really sub-par beau sitting in front of me. And honestly, I don’t WANT to spend any more money with you, especially now that I’ve seen what condition your product is going out in. This is NOT what you had pictured on the Kickstarter site. The Kickstarter Beaus were lovely, and unwrinkled, and straight. I felt like I’d gotten the bait and switch. (also, this is NOT FIXING THE ISSUE.)
I emailed them back and explained that I didn’t really want to spend any more money with them, because I didn’t feel I could be guaranteed a better product in the future, and asked for a refund.
TWO DAYS PASSED. I emailed them again to make sure they’d gotten my first email.
“Since this was a Kickstarter campaign, we can’t really refund your money. We can offer you a replacement beau.” At this point I’m thinking, what the hell. Really I have nothing to lose. So I agree to the replacement, and ask for a different print than the Nebula one. (Because, apparently, that IS the fabric that I chose and as we were told in an Instagram video “THE GALAXY IS SO VAST, GUYS.”) They agree to the different print.
My second beau shows up, and I open it up. I do not have high hopes for it. It was just as wrinkled as the first. But this time, it was like it was threadbare — you could see the threads going through it. It was also cut crookedly, and the label was also crooked.
At this point all I can do is laugh. A week before the second beau arrived, the owner of Book Beau did an Instagram video where she basically said that she’d been seeing all the “complaints and negativity” but she was just going to keep “working her butt off” to get the orders out. (also the thing about the galaxy print being vast, but I digress.) She took no responsibility for the issues that everyone was having with her product. Then, some of her friends embarked on a #BookBeauLove campaign on IG to help “drown out the negativity”. Which, you know, is really nice. (But they are posting photos of their HANDMADE BEAUS. HANDMADE IS THE KEY WORD HERE.) But in the meantime, doing that made almost everyone who got a mass produced, shitty beau, feel bad for complaining about a product that THEY PURCHASED.
So I don’t say anything for a few weeks. But then other people start coming out of the woodwork, complaining about their FIRST sleeves, and then their replacement sleeves. I chime in on a pretty big thread on Twitter, sharing my frustrations as a consumer with fellow disgruntled Book Beau backers.
Randomly, the $25 I backed into the Kickstarter shows up in my PayPal account. No email, no explanation. While it’s great that I have my 25 bucks back, it still doesn’t change the fact that I’m still stuck with two really awful book sleeves. (Not to mention a third on the way via Owlcrate! WHYYYYYY!!)
So my advice to Book Beau is this :
Your product is a great idea. However, what I was promised via the Kickstarter and what I received were two very different things. Your customer service is not bad, but offering people a gift card to spend on more of your product is probably not the best way to go about it. I would have respected your company a heck of a lot more if you’d owned up to your mistakes instead of trying to sweep them under the rug and in a way silence a bunch of us.
Overall: One and a half nuts – because I believe that once Book Beau does get their kinks worked out, they might have a fighting chance. However, I will be spending my money with small, Etsy-run businesses, like AU Alternative Universe. My sleeve from them is top notch and I love it.
EDIT 9/30/17 – I am changing my review to ONE nut. Why? Because someone else was talking about Book Beau on Twitter. I went to talk to them about it and found out that Book Beau had gone and BLOCKED me on their Twitter account. All because I’m a dissatisfied customer!
This is not a way to run your business, Book Beau. In fact, it’s downright childish. I’m wondering, did they also block the SCORES of other people who were dissatisfied? Really great way to treat your customers. REALLY.
We DEFINITELY recommend going elsewhere for your book sleeve needs. Being treated like you’ve done something wrong when the company won’t take responsibility for their mistakes is absolutely unacceptable and completely unprofessional.
Have an experience with Book Beau? Share in the comments.
From our shelves to yours,
Erin & Jennie