Bookish Things on My Doorstep

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.

The Boxes

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.

The Discussion

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?

 

Thanks for reading!
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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9 thoughts on “Bookish Things on My Doorstep

  1. I’ve never gotten a subscription box because I can’t afford it, but, honestly, there’s a really high chance I wouldn’t be interested in the books anyway since I’m kind of picky and don’t tend to be interested in the popular books. That makes me sound like a hipster or something lol, but it’s just legitimately my taste. I think the surprise element would be the fun part for me though.

    But I’m confused—are the bookish items they send, are those the fandom things you’re talking about? I always thought the subscription boxes sent items related to the book(s) in that box. Is that completely incorrect? Since I’m not part of most of the big fandoms, I’d rather have things related to the book or just general bookish things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s definitely interesting to consider–indie books are sorely lacking from the boxes I know of.

      Not totally wrong at all. The bookish items are sometimes related to the books themselves; letters from the author, quote prints, signed book plates. Often, though, those aren’t it, and that’s where the fandom items come in. They’re not always fandom items, but they’re not necessarily related directly to the book either (with owlcrate, they’re mostly trying to fit the theme).

      Like

  2. Sorry it’s taken me so long to comment here! I think this was a very handy post. I liked hearing your pro’s and con’s and the descriptions of each of the boxes.

    I, like the other commenters here, find these boxes not just out of my price range but true gambles. I follow OwlCrate on Instagram because I admire their business model, so I see what’s in each box every month and so often it’s overhyped books that turn out to be duds (in my opinion). I was really hoping to one day afford their box until the month I saw that their book choice was Soundless by Richelle Mead, which would have been a nightmare for me as I had heard nothing but negative things from BookTubers whose opinion I trust.

    I also feared what you confirmed about the non-book fandom items as you described. I don’t have much interest in cutesy erasers, stickers, temporary tattoos, etc. that so many boxes offer. Even as big fan of the Harry Potter books, I’m not sure if I’d even want those fandom-specific items…

    I love the idea of subscription boxes, I just worry that they’re not right for me at this time. This summer I’d like to brainstorm more about how I would personally do my own subscription box. (Because it seems like a hot business right now ^_^).

    Liked by 1 person

    • They are definitely more for some people than others; though life had been to busy for me to read most of them, I find the books they close generally interesting, and they’ve surprised me a few times. I agree that the price is a little high for consistent purchase, especially considering the limited budget that most people run by. (I’m so lucky to be able to afford it, though I think I’ll have to stop over the summer. ) I would love to see how you’d do yours! What would you want to see in one?

      Like

  3. I love the idea of subscription boxes in general. Like most people who commented though, I don’t have the funds! My boyfriend would say, “I don’t have subscription box money,” but you get the picture. That being said, I can picture how they would appeal for other things–not necessarily books–such as collectors’ items. Nice post, too! I’ll have to give them a try when funds aren’t so tight.

    Liked by 1 person

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