Literati CTO Finds “Tech for Good” in Boxes of Books

By Kara Baskin

If Literati’s success is any indication, kids are craving books during the pandemic. The Austin, Texas–based company offers subscription boxes of children’s books for infants to 12-year-olds, curated by a team of teachers, well-known writers, and librarians. The company has grown its subscriber base by 300 percent since last year and doubled the size of its team since the start of 2020. Kids receive monthly shipments of five lesser-known books that revolve around a theme (such as science and innovation); original art from illustrators; and extras like personalized book plates and letters. Families pay a minimum of $9.95 per month, with the option to purchase their favorites (at prices competitive with giants such as Amazon) and return the rest.

CTO Charlie DeTar SM ’09, PhD ’13 is responsible for the architecture of Literati’s website—which showcases books and authors and allows customers to sign up for and customize their subscriptions—as well as all the software systems (warehouse management, shipping, billing) that allow the business to function on the back end. He joined the team when it launched in 2016, searching for a position that combined technology with social good, having previously worked with Prison Legal News, a website and print magazine devoted to protecting human rights for prisoners, and the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (through the Research Action Design collective).

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