These days, it seems like there are a million book subscription boxes on the market, each with their own spin on the genre. Some cater to certain genres. Some contain specific types of items. Some are big, some are small. Some are brand new, others have stood the test of time for years, and some boxes have unfortunately shut down.
With so many boxes to choose from, it can be so overwhelming to pick which one to try out! To help you out, I’ve included some tips on selecting a book subscription box!
Note: This is written from the perspective of someone who purchases a lot of one-time boxes from various companies, rather than having a continuous subscription to one specific box. That being said, I think that these tips would be helpful to anyone, whether you’re buying a single box or a long-term subscription.
1. Look At Past Boxes
One of the best ways to decide if a box fits your vibe is to look at past boxes! Many companies include photos of past boxes on their sites, or you could also look on Instagram/you tube/blogs to find unboxing photos. Take note of the types of items that are frequently included. For example, if you don’t like paper items, you might not fully enjoy a box that includes a monthly art print. On the flip side, someone else might love it and scramble to collect them all! Other things to consider are bookplates vs. signed books, exclusive covers, and the number of items, but we’ll get to that later. Looking at past boxes and their items are a great way to determine value
2. Consider the Fandoms
With the exception of boxes that curate all of their items around their chosen book, most boxes choose specific books/fandoms to base their items on. These items might include a quote, character art, or something inspired by that fandom. While most items are still usable even if you’re not part of the fandom, it’s always more fun when you already love a specific fandom and its characters, so check in advance! This tip is especially helpful when you’re torn between two boxes that are including the same book. If one box has fandoms that you’ve never heard of, and the other has all of your favorites, it’s pretty clear which one you should go with. That being said, sometimes the items in boxes can inspire you to pick up a book and join a new fandom, so don’t take this as a hard-and-fast rule.
3. Watch for Vendor/Item Reveals
Most boxes will post vendor or items reveals, where they’ll announce a vendor or item that will be included in the box. These are a great way to either sway you toward or away from a specific box. If the company announces that a certain designer will have art featured on a large item, but you happen to dislike their art style, you might want to steer clear of that box (unless the other items/fandoms appeal to you.) If you’re unfamilar with a vendor, check their instagram and see their designs/products. Keep an eye out, and make an informed decision. While in most cases you won’t know what the finished item will look like, at least you’ll have a better idea of what you’ll probably get.
4. Think About the Book Itself
Some people love the surprise of getting an unknown book in a book box. Others prefer to know what’s coming already, especially if they have other boxes on the way or frequently buy new releases in store. If you’re part of the former group, great! Enjoy the surprise, and make sure to avoid internet spoilers! If you’re part of the second group, there are several Facebook groups and Instagram accounts that are dedicated to guessing what book will be in a specific box, based on the clues that the company gave. By looking at guesses, you can decide if it’s a book you’d want to buy.
On top of the actual book pick, check to see if the box you’re considering does special editions! Some boxes are large enough to do exclusive covers that you can’t get anywhere else! Others include beautiful art on the dust jacket, or a separately designed dust jacket altogether! There are also sprayed edges to consider as well. Lastly, check to see if the book will be signed or will come with a signed bookplate. White there’s nothing wrong with a regular edition of a book, all of these special features add value to the box you’re buying.
5. Check the Box’s Reputation
Despite how magical and fun the bookish community seems, there are some bad eggs out there. Issues like late shipping, bad communication, quality issues, and straight up scams are problems that unfortunately come up sometimes. To avoid disappointment (and perhaps losing money) definitely check reviews, both good and bad. Facebook groups, blogs, and Cratejoy can be great places to investigate.
6. Consider the Price and Value
Book Boxes are fun, but they’re definitely not a necessity, and not worth breaking the bank over. Keep price and shipping in mind as you select your boxes, especially if the box is coming from another country. You may have to pay a customs fee, depending on where you live.
To consider the value of a box, consider the factors previously mentioned, and ask yourself some questions. Does the box routinely include high quality/full sized/unique items that appeal to you? Are there a lot of paper items? Is their something special about the book that I can’t get anywhere else? Do I love the fandoms? Is there something special about that box that I really want to support? Your answers will help you determine the value of the box to you. For a more concrete value, you can research past items and look up similar items on the vendor’s site to see prices!
In the end, compare the estimated value against the price. Sometimes the box won’t seem worth it after that comparision, or sometimes you’ll realize that it’s totally worth the money!
7. Trust your Gut
All things considered, at the end of the day this is your purchase. It’s a fun luxury to get a book subscription box, and part of the fun is picking which box to buy for yourself. Trust your gut, and hopefully you’ll end up with a box full of bookish goodies you love!
Thanks for reading! In the comments below, tell me how you decide on which book boxes you want to buy!
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