Subscription boxes are all the rage and they have them for pretty much everything you can imagine. I personally have done Julep (did it for a while but had to stop because NAIL POLISH OVERLOAD) and Ipsy (did it in the first year it was created and quit after one time).
I’ve noticed a lot of bookish subscription boxes popping up over the past year — created by bookstores, bookish websites and bloggers alike. I’ve been curious about them and was grateful that two companies reached out to me for a chance to review their subscription box. So full disclosure: I did not pay for these but received one box for review from both companies in exchange for an honest review. I didn’t receive any other compensation other than the free box!
What I got:
Cute packaging (the mailer, if you care, was a standard priority mailer envelope)! Also, Jamie fail. I got too excited and started taking stuff out so pretend you didn’t see the candle and it’s in the package still.
I opened the package and immediately I pulled out a non-book shaped thing which was the candle! It’s adorable (I’m definitely keeping that tin after I burn the candle). It smells nice and I’m actually burning it right now. Then I pulled out the letter. I think this was a nice touch — it’s handwritten and I loved hearing why Lisa picked Red Queen. Then I pulled out the book, Red Queen. I think this was a good selection though I already have it as an ARC. I tried to read it a couple months but since I’m a mood reader I was in a fickle mood and put it down though I definitely plan to try to pick it up again. Then it came with a signed bookplate from the author that I can put in my book (very cool!). Then there was a little slip of paper with a 15% discount to a shop on Etsy which I will be checking out!
– Nice, clean website. Detailed FAQ section that was pretty darn thorough.
– Love the two subscription options. There’s the Expert which is the most general one — it varies in genre and isn’t tailored to your taste or anything. Then there is the Personalized box which is nice if you are a bit more picky, only read certain genres, etc. Since I don’t have a log-in I couldn’t get into see what kinds of questions you get asked but I know it is a more personalized pick based on your answers.
– Excellent curating — They are new releases from major publishers! I browsed the past picks too (I love that you can see that as a prospective customer) and I think Lisa has done a good job picking quality books in various genres for the Expert box! I think if you read pretty widely you will be great with the Expert picks!
– Exclusive author content for Uppercase members: I thought this was such a nice touch! You’ll get an email about a week after the box ships in which you’ll get some exclusive content JUST for Uppercase members.
– Gift option: I love that there is an option to gift it to a friend and you can pick which box and how many months. What a great gift to give someone!
– A little too pricey for my taste: I think this is my problem with subscription boxes in general? The basic (Expert) box is $29 (that includes shipping). Most YA hardcovers are let’s say ~$15 plus shipping if you order online. (On Amazon and B&N they are listing it around $11.50 right now). I guess it depends on if you value not having to do the work of finding a new read and also if you think the bookish goodie is worth those extra couple dollers.
– Only currently ships to US, Puerto Rico and Canada. (This doesn’t affect ME but thought it’s worth noting).
– Return policy: I know it probably has to be this way because it would get MESSY and crazy but if you get a book you already own you are pretty much out of luck. You can’t return it. Best you can probably do is sell it to Amazon or a second hand shop to get yourself a new book. Or host a giveaway. Swap with a friend. It would be a bummer to get a book you already had but I guess that’s the gamble if you are a frequent book buyer. If don’t buy a lot of books, this won’t be much of a problem!
Cute box! Love how even their box calls out to their brand!
Ooh pretty stuff! (I love when packages come with this stuff because I always reuse it)
The whole package!
The poster in full (it has the OTHER cover on the other side):
I was SOOO happy because I have been wanting this book and actually didn’t own it! I thought for sure I would get a book I either had as an ARC or owned so this automatically made me happy! I thought the goodies in here were all fab — the CraftedVan bookmarks that I love, the Game of Thrones figure (I don’t watch but Will and I are starting it soon), the swag (pin, bookmark and poster) and the cutest unicorn bandages EVERRR. Like I kind of want to get wounded so I can use one. (Okay not really because I’m the whiniest of whiny babies and pain adverse).
– Great curating: I mean, it’s only the first pick from Owl Crate but I thought this pick was on point! It is a new release with good buzz!
– Themed packages: This is one thing I think is REALLY cool about Owl Crate is that each month has a different theme that the book and the goodies for the month revolve around! This month was fantasy and the sheet I got says that next month the theme is “all the feels”! Very curious what that will entail!
– Really lovely packaging: I’m a sucker for good packaging and presentation and Owl Crate had that from the time I saw the package on my doorstep to the time I opened it. Everything looks super professional and is just REALLY cute. Love the logo and how pretty everything is! A+ branding.
– The goodies: This subscription box is more expensive than Uppercase Box BUT you get extra goodies in it. So if you are a person who wants to discover cool bookish things, this one is great. It was really fun to get some cute surprises! I thought the selection of things in this box were of quality and worth the money. I personally have some bookmarks from Craftd Van already (dessert themed) and they are the best bookmarks I’ve owned!
– Price discount if you select a 3 month or 6 month plan: If you know that you want to get it for more than just a month there is a discount which I appreciate!
– Ships internationally: It’s a pretty steep price if you ARE looking to ship outside of US or Canada but I like that it’s an option!
– Expensive: Pretty much everything I said above about Uppercase Box. This one is $29.99 plus shipping but you DO get more goodies with the book that I thought were of quality.
– No personalized option: It’s probably not fair to compare the two but I think that this was a great feature of Uppercase that helps pickier readers. I would HIGHLY recommend being open to many genres if you subscribe to this one because there ISN’T the option to maybe get only fantasy-ish picks or contemporary only (at this point in time anyways). If you are open to reading from many genres, I think this isn’t a con at all. Like for me, this wouldn’t bother me at all because I’ll read from any genre.
– Return policy: I already explained this above for Uppercase. I get why they maybe wouldn’t but I do wish there was an option (for both of them) to maybe get 1 or 2 “returns” on your account in the event you got the same one. So, I guess, like I said above you can always give away it if you get a duplicate, donate it or sell it.
Would I subscribe to Uppercase or Owl Crate?
I think Uppercase AND Owl Crate are great but I don’t know that it would be worth it for ME right now. Why? Because if you are a blogger (especially one who gets a lot of ARCs) or someone super into this community who buys a lot of books, it’s a bit of a gamble. Looking over the past month’s (plus this month’s) of Uppercase selections, I already owned ALL but one out of 7 (which I was aware of but not interested in) that I got either as ARCs and/or bought. I would consider subscribing to Uppercase/ Owl Crate if I stopped blogging and wasn’t as on top of new releases/not getting ARCs anymore obviously (and also if my financial situation could allow it haha). I WOULD in my current situation, however, consider gifting it to a friend or family member who reads but isn’t up on the new releases — definitely my niece and maybe my little sister.
People I WOULD recommend them to:
– People who aren’t up on the latest and greatest books: I’m thinking of some family members and friends who read YA (but not nearly as voraciously as the people in this community) and I think they wouldn’t be aware of or have already heard of these picks. I know I have a lot of readers of this blog who are NOT bloggers and who rely on my blog and others to find recommendations and I think this sort of box would be REALLY good for them to discover new books.
– People who don’t buy a lot of books: If you are a person who pre-orders a lot of the big buzz books and talked about books in this community, there is a good chance you might have already gotten it. But if you are a person who really doesn’t buy a lot of new books (especially new releases) this might be ideal.
– People who don’t have time to discover new reads: If you aren’t super into the community and don’t really like to spend time finding new reads, this might be your solution because they curate for you! It can be time consuming and hard to find out where to start so this takes all the hard work out of it and gives you well-loved and decently popular books.
– People who are new to the YA scene: I think this is a great thing if you are new to YA and don’t know where to get started!
– People who are wanting to give a gift to the young or not so young YA reader in your life: You might be someone who doesn’t really read YA but knows a YA reader! This is a great gift option because you don’t have to try to figure out what book they might like and who doesn’t like getting FUN mail!
I think Uppercase and Owl Crate are on to something really great even if I don’t think, right now, it’s a good investment for me because I get a lot of books right now and I’d probably overlap a lot plus financially I’m not able to do any sort of subscription boxes right now. When the time comes that I ever abandon this blog and am not as immersed in this community I think I’d LOVE to subscribe to either one of them. They both of their own pros and cons (some that they share that are just really inherent of subscription boxes, I think) but I would highly recommend both. I think it would depend on what you are looking for — Uppercase has more flexibility that could be more tailored to your tastes and Owl Crate is really fun because you get themed boxes full of really awesome goodies in addition to the book. All depends on what you are looking for and how much you are willing to spend! I also do recommend both because both Lisa (Uppercase) and Korrina (Owl Crate) are great contributors to this community from the interactions I’ve had with them and they have solid recommendations.
Do you subscribe to any bookish boxes? What do you think about these/are you interested in subscribing? Let me know if you have any questions about them and hopefully I can answer! Also, for fun, I’d LOVE to hear about any OTHER subscription boxes you are into!