Discussion Post: Subscription Boxes – Yay or Nay?

We are bringing back today the classic…Mandy discussion post. It’s been 500 years since I have last tormented you with one of these ramble fests, but Sha has left me alone for an extended period of time (thank you Australian time difference), so this girl snuck one in. Today, we are taking on subscription boxes and whether we are yay or nay about them?

Let’s Bring it all Back (to the ground…aka the background…aka Mandy made this too complicated and just wants to give some background)

For a little background knowledge, we are discussion YA book subscription boxes that have become super trendy and super well known. We have the original ones – Owlcrate and Fairyloot – who have been around since really my origin stories here at BPR. I think I saw perhaps 3 years old for them? However, there are TONS of new boxes popping up left and right, and so many that I kind of just blink and go, wait, there’s another one??? Let’s just say that there are very very very many boxes that you can choose from if you’re deciding to dip your toes into the subscription box pond.

So, what will you usually get in YA book subscription box? Most subscription boxes will, in fact, include a book with a signed bookplate/book itself/and OR letter from the author; 3 – 5 bookish items that relate to the theme of the box with other bookish fandoms; and as mentioned, a theme overall for the month. Bookish items include mugs, scarves, wall tapestries, journals, candles, and more. Recently, more boxes are trying to differentiate themselves from the pack so they may include special sprayed pages; different, unique covers; special dust jackets with reverse covers; and exclusive items like pins, candles, and more.

Let’s Spill the Real Feels

I’m not going to lie that I feel so tempted to get into to the subscription box life. I see so many unboxings – on blog posts, Instagram stories, and then amazing unboxing pics on Insta – and I feel the excitement. I feel the excitement as if I’m opening too to see what they got and what items they might have in the box. It’s like opening up a present on your birthday – you might have some idea but you’re getting a bookish gift that is bound to be pretty and epic.

However, there are definitely a few major hangups that have me super on the fence about subscription boxes and why I immediately haven’t become one with the crates.

➡ Price.

Okay, price can be a large obstacle when looking at a box. I was looking at one recently because it not only had a book that I was really interested in and was going to purchase anyway – at full price since Barnes and Noble doesn’t have it on sale or I was going to purchase a signed copy – so why not get a box for a few more dollars? WELL, it certainly wasn’t a FEW more dollars. The box itself was about 30 – 40 US dollars PLUS add on shipping (omg, this girl has SUCH a hangup on shipping pricing that I will literally exit out of a shopping cart that I have spent two hours on if shipping ain’t free or five dollars and under). Shipping? More than ten dollars. PLUS tax. So, I was looking at a box of about 50 – 60 dollars.

Okay, like, I’m not about the life of just whipping out 50 – 60 dollars unless it is something that I’m going to really really enjoy and use all of the items. I re-looked at all of the fandoms – most of which I was a fan of – but besides the book…where they items I really needed and were going to use to be worth $30 extra dollars?

They were not, and like, I just bought 7 new hardcover books for $35 on Book Outlet, so I could be better using that one price for, um, more books.

➡ Um, them fandoms, y’all.

I’ve actually discussed with a few bloggers about this before about the lack of diversity in fandoms that most of the boxes focus on. We forever are getting Caraval, ACOTAR, ToG, Lord of the Rings, The Cruel Prince, Grisha, Harry Potter, and a few select more fandoms that are always in rotation. There are few other key fandoms that are in heavy rotation as well – with some of the bigger suppliers doing special exclusive boxes around when a new book in the series is coming out.

While some of these fandoms do encompass a pretty large chunk of YA readers, it certainly doesn’t cover it all. From the list above, I don’t actively participate in any of those, and if I were seeing one of those buzzwords, I’m immediately crossing off part of the box that I would like. And honestly, this happens with literally just about every box.

I know I’m a book hipster. It’s a thing that I’ve come to regret and accept. I just don’t fall into the enjoyment or desire to read some of YA’s biggest names books. Therefore, I am not a fan of the book series that are routinely and even casually brought into the book boxes. Shatter Me, Raven Cycle, Truthwitch – these aren’t going to get me excited. There are a few series that I am casual fans of that might get me intrigued, like, for instance, A Darker Shade of Magic series.

There are for sure a few series that get me all the way pumped – The Lunar Chronicles, His Fair Assassin, the Illuminae Files, Disney Princesses/Fairytales, the Diviners, the Jackaby series…but besides TLC and the occasional Illuminae and Disney, these really aren’t the series popping up the most or really altogether. The recent box that I was looking at did feature a few of these so I was so excited. But for the most part? My series really aren’t represented or are mixed in with a bunch of ones that I do not like.

➡ Them items, too, while we at it.

There are a different range of items that the boxes will bring. Most boxes will usually include a candle, mug, art print, and pin as a fundamental item. Other items can include tote bags, pillow cases, journals, scarves, tapestries, decorative boxes, beanies, jewelry, and more. And I would use…um, sadly not most of these things.

Art prints are beautiful and would probably be the thing I would like the most (although I don’t have room on my walls to hang) besides a handy tote bag. However, I don’t drink coffee or tea or even hot cocoa, so I wouldn’t be using that. I don’t use scarves (except as bookstagram backgrounds); I don’t wear pins; I have enough pillow cases…as you can see, the list will go on. While I know I’m super in the minority on these and I think would be a lot different if I had some proper bookshelves, I’m certainly not going to be using a lot of these items.

For all of your big talk, have you walked the walk?

I have actually! When I was first starting out in the blogging world, I saw so many things about Owlcrate that I broke down and got one. I caved so hard. The book was going to be one of the books that I wanted to read anyway, and it had bookish merch from Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, and Wizard of Oz. SO I was all in. I was so so so excited for it, and once the day arrived…I was less than enthused.

From the box, I got a book that I actually ended up giving up because I found I wasn’t interested in really reading it; a Peter Pan beanie that never worked with my hair and was also super large; a weird little paperclip bookmark; a Sleeping Beauty bangle (think like Alex and Ani) that I’ve worn maybe 6 times; and a tiny tiny Wizard of the Oz journal that was handy but used up in a short amount of time. From this box, I still only have the bangle that is literally collecting dust in my jewelry box.

Since then, I’ve yet to commit myself to another box since it was $40 that I literally didn’t enjoy.

In Conclusion (because surely we must come to one)

Not all subscription boxes are the same and certainly some are superior to others. I had one bad experience, and I have to say that it has kept me from purchasing again. Maybe I just need to branch out in my fandoms…or perhaps the boxes do too? Until then, you will not be seeing any unboxing from this book princess.

So, what do you think? Yay or Nay? Do you love book subscription boxes? Which ones are the best? Do you have any of the same hangups? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

mandybanner

29 thoughts on “Discussion Post: Subscription Boxes – Yay or Nay?

  1. As much as I love the idea of subscription boxes, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re not really worth it for me. I’ve had a few of the Fairyloot boxes and the only one I’ve loved recently was the Beauty and the Beast box, but that’s because I knew I would like everything included in the box. Most of the time, there are a couple of items based on a series I don’t like and sometimes I feel it’s only Fairyloot who champion a lot of the books included in the boxes. They seem to drop off the radar afterwards if they’re not the big titles like A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Skyward, Song of Sorrow, Girls of Paper and Fire etc. I have a few that I don’t hear people talk about anymore and it makes me wonder sometimes if they weren’t that great or they’ve just been shoved under the carpet. Who knows?

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  2. I’ve tried Uppercase and while it was fun, after a while I just found I wasn’t really liking the books for it to be worth the cost so I cancelled my sub (honestly since then they’ve all been on point so you win some and you lose some I guess). I’ve honestly been really tempted by OwlCrate but, like you pointed out, it’s a lot of money to be throwing at a box. I’m already struggling to stay on budget with my regular book buying habits.
    The only real exception to this is sometimes I’ll go ahead and purchase leftover items from past boxes/leftover past boxes if I really liked them.

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  3. I’m not into these boxes lol. Like you, I’m really into the unboxings though. But to me the price doesn’t seem worth it. Plus like you pointed out, they always push the same fandoms and I’m not really into any of them.

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  4. I honestly love my Owlcrate subscription, not just for the goodies, but I like how it gives me a book that I’m most likely already going to get and it just saves me a trip. I also like the element of surprise and trying to figure out what the next book is based on clues. It works for me. But I do agree that sometimes the fandoms are a bit overused and sometimes I’m stuck with things of books I’ve never read or don’t like, so that’s how I understand it being not worth it. But if there are special edition boxes filled with things you know you’ll want, and focuses on a book/fandom you love, I absolutely think you should go for it! A one time box, in my opinion, is worth it.

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  5. I’m honestly not a fan of subscription boxed for the same reasons as you. I think they’re overpriced and the only items I would use are bookmarks. I would much rather just buy the book for the same amount of money.

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  6. The boxes have all been hit or miss. And more than a few times I got a book I’d already bought. I just found that I prefer to pick my own books and I just can’t justify spending $40-$50 on something I’m not going to enjoy with stuff I have no space for. I’d be down for something that just had some general bookish things in it that didn’t reference any fandoms (I’m addicted to pins tbh).
    And I hear you about THE CHOSEN FANDOMS. I grew up on Harry Potter, but it’s such a huge turn off for anything to be referenced with it anymore.

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  7. I say yay, but it depends. I used to get the Uppercase subscription box for 3 or 4 months, and I loved all of the little items included, but not the books they gave out. Most of the time, it was a book I had never heard of and probably would not have bought on my own.

    I think that if you have the money, it might be a great experience. Fairyloot and Owlcrate are tempting, and I think I will try them sometime, but I’ll have to save up my money first. I don’t think it would be worth it to have a monthly subscription for a long time, though. More than a few months is probably too much money wasted, whether or not you love the subscription.

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  8. I’m always SO tempted to get one (I’m addicted to unboxings whoops) but yeah that price is just…way too much. Also, there’s so many now, they’re not super creative and original anymore??? A lot of boxes have the same type of stuff, and even the same book.

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  9. I recommend trying Fairyloot, if you’re going to get any of them. But! If they (and by they I mean literally any sub box company) have any boxes left over from any months (and a lot of times they do), you can just see if you’ll like what’s in them and yeah, it’s not as exciting as a surprise, but at least you know you’re getting something you’ll enjoy. Also, sorry for the super long run on sentence. Haha.

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  10. UHG I just wrote out a whole rant and then the power went out 😀

    I get such serious FOMO when it comes to sub boxes. I LOVE the idea of a mystery book being sent to me, with cool bookish merch to go with it. But in reality, it doesn’t always pan out. For example, I got one of the very early boxes. I don’t even remember what it was called, but it was $50 and I signed up for the 3-month subscription. I never read (or liked) any of the books they sent me, and while a couple of the “things” were cute, I think I used a whopping ONE item out of the dozens I was sent. I like watching the unboxings and a lot of the time, I like the new exclusive covers to these books, but I am just too scared to subscribe and then have a bunch of books I don’t want because of it.

    I am however subscribed to one book box right now, and that is Book of the Month. It is only like $15 a month, you get to CHOOSE which book you want (from a choice of 5 different books covering different genres) and then can add up to 2 additional books (if you want) for 9.99 each. You can also skip a month that doesn’t meet your fancy at no extra cost! The payment just rolls over to the next month. There is no fluff, you get just the books you picked in the box. I have been a member for a while now and because of that, they just started rolling out long time member incentives, for example, they sent me a free tote bag, and will send me a free book on my birthday. I really love that box because it is exactly what you expect. The stuff may be fun and exciting but most of the time it is just STUFF. and rarely usable, unless you collect pins, or are a hard core candle addict.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OH NO. I’m sorry. That is the worst to have it all go out. I’ve done that so many times and accidentally exited out of a tab or something.

      I totally agree. I get that FOMO and love watching the unboxings, but you’re right – it never quite pans out and we’re stuck with random things and out of money 😥

      Oh wow. I didn’t know about that. I might have to do that because that seem like it fits around you instead of you fitting around the box. And I love how if nothing works, you can just go for the next month so you’re not just settling. And that is the perfect gift that you get a free book. I’m totally going to have to check that out. And yes, no pins and candles for me, lol. XD

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  11. In the past I’ve been suuuper impulsive with my purchases, which means that I’ve tried out a few book boxes and candles boxes and honestly…I have to agree with everything that you’re saying here. Even if I’m super excited about the book being included in the box, the tchotchkes that it comes with are just not useful at all. I currently have a box full of stuff I am never going to use, AND THE SHIPPINGGG. Don’t get me started on the shipping. Paying $15 for shipping blows my mind! Gah, I need to cap this comment here, or I’ll end up ranting for quite a long time 😂

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    1. Ahahahah I totally feel you about going on the long rants. I totally get about the super impulsive because all the unboxings bring so much hype and you want to keep all the little things that come in it because it was so expensive period. And I don’t know why the shipping is so muchhhhhhhhhhhh. D:

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  12. It’s a NAY from me. (I’ve never actually bought one, but I don’t have much desire too) I won’t lie the temptation is real (especially with those TLC book covers coming out) But in all honesty its not worth spending all that money. I mean if we convert those american prices to Canadian ones hoooweeee. I don’t have that kind of cash. And while I love fan art I am not gonna pay those monstrous prices for paper items 😦 I enjoy watching people unbox them, but personally I don’t need them…:)

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  13. I tried Owlcrate for a few months. I liked the items in the box, but I was never too excited about the book itself. You are right, there is little variety in genre in the box for the book or the fandoms. And at about $40, I decided my money is better spent elsewhere.

    I also tried Uppercase I think it was and both Uppercase and Owlcrate sent the same book one month, so you really can’t join more than one subscription at a time.

    I also have noticed my reading tastes are changing and I am reading less YA in general.

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    1. Yes! The variety in fandoms and books are super limited. It’s like if you don’t like those fandoms, you’re stuck, And for sure – 40 could be used in so many different ways.

      Oh, wow, yes, that definitely stinks since it’s not like you can just return the book or anything.

      And that definitely doesn’t help since most of the boxes are just focused with YA.

      I’ve heard that’s the box to go for it I wanted. I might have to try it out! 🙂

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  14. Oh wow, I have a lot of thoughts on this! I used to get Fairyloot but I genuinely think it was the hype that seduced me. I’ve got so much merch just gathering dust now and half the the books are still sitting unread on my shelves. I came to the conclusion that I just had fomo (still do tbh, those exclusive editions are stunning). But it’s definitely more economical to just buy the book from elsewhere if I want to read it. Very occasionally, I’ll see an item being posted on IG that gives me a little envy but on the whole I’m glad I cancelled my subscription and just kept my money for buying more books!

    Fantastic post, thanks for sharing! 💜

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  15. I watched this suuuuuppppper interesting YouTube video about the genre of YouTube that is unboxing videos for kids. It was all about how the videos are designed to trigger that excitement feeling AND give you the gimmies. For bloggers, it also gives us the “I could do a post like that” buzz, especially when we’re running low on post ideas. Unboxing videos are a dangerous drink, man.

    That being said, I also found myself VERY tempted by the subscription box life. Not bookish, as much, but things. Tea. Pins. Fandom-charm-bracelets. Like the points you made here, I keep myself away by reminding myself a) the cost b) I won’t even like most of the stuff in it anyway.

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow. That is such an intriguing point. I hadn’t realized it, but it makes so much sense. The excitement and anticipation of each item that you bring out really does have such a psychological impact. And that is so right about the blogger items.

      And yes for sure. those two points definitely help a bit. XD

      Thank you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I’ve never gotten a subscription box mainly because I don’t want to spend money on a book that I might not be interested in. As well as I’m not a bigger lover of all of the bigger ships besides HP, of course, I know there are subscriptions out there where you can pick the book out yourself which I would be more interested in as well as maybe a subscription special for a series I love or theme I love like a HP box or another fandom I would be interested in.
    I do like looking at unboxing though I like seeing what’s in them, I don’t want to own them though does that makes sense? lol

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    1. Yes! Those seem to be the best bit since you get to pick what you want. And you won’t have to deal with spending all that you don’t want. But those special boxes are good since you know you love that fandom. And I’m totlaly the same way! 🙂

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  17. I love subscription boxes. If I have the money, I like most of the fandoms, and I want the book I think they’re super fun to get.

    I’ve tried Uppercase, Owlcrate, the Indigo Book Box (I’m not sure this one really counts, but oh well), and Beacon Book Box and I’ve definitely gotten the most out of Owlcrate. It’s the cheapest of the ones I’ve tried (excluding Indigo Book Box) and you tend to get some really great quality items. I’ve gotten so much use out of their stuff.

    I do see the cons of subscription boxes. You can get some stuff you’ll never use, the fandoms can be bad and the book be one you’re interested in (or vice versa), the price (especially when converting to other currencies like the Canadian dollar), etc. You kind of have to put a lot of effort and research into it to get a good experience, but I think I’ve had most boxes be worth it for the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooooh good to know that you’ve found the best to be Owlcrate. I feel like it’s definitely upped its game since the last time that I ordered, and good to know that you got the most for it overall. And they do seem so fun to get. I’ve definitely always enjoyed your unboxings.

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