So Lori from Ink, Keys, and Other Things (who’s awesome, by the way, so I’d recommend bookish and writerly people check her out) suggested that I do a post on book subscription boxes due to a comment I made on twitter this week. And as I didn’t have another topic in mind for today, I thought I should~
Note 1: I am not getting paid for this or anything like that.
Note 2: Although one of these boxes did not work for me, I encourage you to check it out if it sounds like something you’d like to try.
Note 3: All opinions are my own, and I would love to hear yours, too, so comment with anything you have to say!
That being made known, this is a review of/comparison of 3 different subscription boxes, and a discussion thereof. You can click the names of the boxes to go to the website.
So, all the boxes I’ve tried come with (at least) a book and a smattering of bookish items, but there are a couple of differences as well.
BOX I: OWLCRATE
Owlcrate ships monthly, and each month has a different theme (unless you get a personalized box, which I haven’t done). I like the themes and trying to guess what books fit (I have never been right), and I like to see the ways in which the extra items in the box fit the theme and the novel that is included. Overall, Owlcrate is the first box I tried, and my absolute favorite. I’ve had excellent luck with my interest in the books, and decent luck with the bookish items (you can see previous boxes on the website).
BOX II: BOOK RIOT YA
This box ships every quarter and comes with two books, though I believe the April box was unfortunately their last. If there’s been a theme, it doesn’t usually get revealed until I’m actually reading the contents. Overall, I’ve had decent luck with the books. The bookish items impress me less, but there’s usually a couple of things I rather like anyway. I liked it and am sad to see it go, but not as much as I’m enjoying owlcrate.
BOX III: BOOKED BOX
The thing that caught me eye about this box was that the box is personalized according to a little quiz you fill out and you giving them access to your goodreads account (or another, which I don’t currently recall). I was inspired to check it out because of a video by ChapterStackss, but she had better luck than I did. I found myself rather disappointed by the one box I got. I received a paperback edition of a book I already owned (and had marked as such on goodreads), a lit magazine on a subject I had indicated (as far as I recall) I was not interested in, and a series of perishables I wouldn’t eat (coconut macaroon, sea salt caramel, and assorted teas) and thus gave away. I also received some wax melts (I don’t know what the purpose of these is) and a button, which was the only item I liked. It didn’t work for me, but I hope the creators have luck with their enterprise.
There are a couple of topics I wanted to cover for me, but I would love to hear what you have to think outside of these as well!
As A Concept
As an idea, I think subscription boxes are really cool. I think the prices are usually reasonable—most of them will give you a brand new hardcover, which in the US is usually about 20 bucks (out of the 30-so the box costs)–but I do understand that not a lot of people can afford something like this on a regular basis. I’ve been fortunate so far, but because of some (expensive) personal issues lately, I’m thinking about canceling them for myself.
I do like that most of them come out once a month. Even for most busy bookish people, a book a month is a fair pace—not something I’ve been keeping up with because I’m barely staying a float, but let’s not talk too much about that. The quarterly box has fewer, of course, but still has a reasonable pace with reasonable variation, in my opinion. And, of course, it’s really convenient to have something like this delivered straight to your door—and the surprise element can be pretty cool. I like being kept guessing, though I now know the frustration of getting a book I already own (seriously, my edition is in better condition). And the items in the boxes can be really cool and even useful little tidbits, which brings me to my next topic:
The (Fandom) Items
Overall, I’ve been pretty satisfied with the items in my subscription boxes (let’s ignore Booked Box). They’ve varied from erasers to bags to letters from authors to buttons and clips to candles, etc. But I have been stopped short a couple of times because of a theme: the items are sometimes fandom-limited. I’ve seen a lot of Harry Potter and Hunger Games items, and, not being part of the latter fandom, they’ve been a little frustrating. I have no use for a Hunger Games necklace, pin, bracelet, or sticker. If not for the sheer frequency, I think I wouldn’t care as much, but almost every box seems to have SOMETHING Hunger Games (or other-fandom-I’m-not-a-part-of thing).
And this is the more discussion-y part: is it fair to ask for non-fandom bookish items?
Owlcrate had one box in particular that was almost fandom-free (I think there was one thing in it that was Harry Potter) and I absolutely loved it. I thought it was fantastic. And I wonder if that could be more common. I know I’m in a sort of minority when I say I’m not in the Hunger Games fandom (I have not read the books or seen the movies, nor do I particularly care to) but they manage to avoid other fandoms as well (Shadowhunters, for example, has not been featured as frequently, fortunately). I’m into Harry Potter, so I don’t mind that as much, but what about the people who aren’t?
Is it safer to hedge your bets by choosing really popular, massive, exploding at the box office fandoms? Or might it be more friendly to sway away from fandom a little bit? What do you think, travelers?
Have you tried any (book or not) subscription box?
What did you think?
Would you like to try one? Why or why not?
How do you feel about the concept (and pricing) of these boxes?
Would you want fan-related items?
What other thoughts do you have about this phenomenon?
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