9 min 5 sec

Carpe Libri! Budding Book Club Baron Brings in $6,400/Month

A UK-based consultant builds a better reading habit by starting a book club that grows to 350 members.
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What It's About

A tale of two Bens and their rebel book club.

Business Model
Skills Required
Marketing & Community Facilitation
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

Ben recommends testing your side hustle's riskiest assumption. In his case: that other people would want to accelerate their non-fiction reading habits and would be willing to invest £15 a month to do so. The Bens agreed that if they got 15 people to signup in month #1 they would continue. They got 24.

Fun Fact

Rebel Book Club has been able to leverage its 350 members and organically home-grown base to feature live Q & A’s with some of the authors from the books they’ve read. In December they were able to lock in the extraordinary Seth Godin to speak via Skype at their next meetup!

Notes from Chris

Episode 699
Ben Keene is a UK-based business consultant and coach. He works with startups, individuals and families, helping them to lead extraordinary careers and make an impact in the world.

However, despite all of the time Ben spends helping others, he was in need of a little help himself. He had a problem. An affliction. He found himself in the throes of the worst habit imaginable. Despite his best efforts, he couldn’t seem to break it.

The Japanese even have a name for it: Tsundoku: The constant act of buying books, but never reading them.

His pile of unfinished books was out of control. What to do?

Ben wrestled with this question while on vacation in Bali. It was there that he met someone who suffered from the same problem. Also named Ben and from London, they got to talking and decided to pick a book, set a date, and meetup to discuss it over a cocktail.

Knowing that he’d have to talk about it with someone, this reluctant reader churned through Peter Thiel’s Zero to One with Usain Bolt-like speed. When their reading rendezvous arrived, Ben and Ben, along with 12 other people all through word of mouth, attended their first meetup.

Returning to London, these two Ben’s resolved to pick a book and meet up once a month to talk about it. For fun, they decided to invite others along the way. That was April, 2015.

Ben and his co-founder decided to test their hypothesis: would people want to accelerate their non-fiction reading habit and be willing to invest $19 a month to do it? They agreed that if they got 15 people to sign up in month 1 they’d continue.

The next month, they celebrated with another meetup on the rooftop of Virgin HQ in London. This time with 24 people. Rebel Book Club was born.

Fast forward three and half years later to November, 2018. Ben’s side hustle has acquired 350 members and is earning $6,400 a month. Membership costs are £15 a month ( $19 ) per member.

Ben said starting this was cheap, costing only $13 (£10) for their domain name rebelbookclub.co.uk. With their piece of internet real estate in place, these rehabilitated bookworms were up and reading.

Since starting Rebel Book Club, Ben’s reading habit accelerated by 600%. He read 50 books last year and he’s a father of three children under five years old.

They took it one month at a time. If their concept didn’t grow or if it became too time-consuming or stressful, they’d quit.

However, because it’s grown organically every month (44 months in a row) and hasn’t taken too much time to maintain, they’re still going. After year one they had 104 members with little effort at all. All word of mouth with zero spent on marketing.

The meetups take place in co-working spaces like WeWork, Virgin, AirBnB, Work Life, Huckletree and even London parks. Ben said they’ve hustled all of these venues for free or in kind through their work relationships, friends and members.

Since its inception in 2015 they’re now putting in more than 2 hours a week (the most ever) and are already seeing positive results.

Also, Ben recently moved his family to the Thai Island of Ko Lanta. He’s got the spine for it. Since the move, he’s had many Skype calls with his rebel cohort to keep the pages turning.



Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"Rebel Book Club helps people accelerate their reading habits by bringing a like-minded group together to read one game-changing non-fiction book every month and meet up to turn the insights into actions whilst enjoying a book-themed cocktail. So far, we’ve read 44 books and are UK - based in three cities: London, Oxford and Bristol."
—Ben Keene #SideHustleSchool

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Chris Guillebeau