Book subscription boxes. There are more out there than ever at the moment with mixtures of successes and failures, I feel like more and more often I am seeing complaints about quality and timeliness, there are still plenty of people out there loving the boxes but I feel that actually I’ve had my fill for a while at least. Over the last 2 years I have had a combination of both UK and US boxes but the US boxes usually get stuffed for customs which makes them incredibly poor value. I still remember getting my first Fairyloot in November 2017, I was so excited and loved everything so much, but then Decembers came and I was so bitterly disappointed and so begins my so so relationship with these boxes. When I realised a few months ago that I was no longer experiencing any joy or excitement about getting these boxes I decided to stop – there are no other parts of my life where I would routinely fork out over £30 for something that I probably wont enjoy.
I want to try and keep this balanced as I don’t want it to be a post about me just moaning, So to start with the good! From these boxes I have some truly gorgeous editions of books, from sprayed edges, hidden covers, exclusive covers, all of which are signed or with a bookplate, I love that we always get hardbacks and they make my bookshelves beautiful. I have also discovered new authors and read books that I likely would have passed by – some of which that have become real favourites. I have also discovered lots of lovely small businesses who I have gone on to buy from on the basis of products included, I mean I have an amazing time working with Geeky Clean and that is all down to getting their products in a box. I’m never short of a bookmark, I have candles for days, and a slew of fab props for Instagram pics. My favourite item is a SJM cushion cover which stays with me on the sofa at all times! This all sounds fab doesn’t it, but what about the flip side?
It’s all completely random. I mean you get hints, but the box contents is always a mystery, that is until someone spoils it on social media. Usually I’m last in the shipping queue so I have to avoid Instagram for days. I know some people don’t mind spoilers but honestly if the spoiler confirms that the content was not for me again, then I just won’t look forward to getting my box. The hints will tell you what fandoms to expect but I can guarantee that the fandom that I love will go on the most random item. Harry Potter – a pen, Lunar Chronicles – cutlery, ACOTAR – shoelaces, The Infernal Devices – matches. Whilst the feature item in the box will be from something I’ve never even heard of. Again this is a personal post to my experiences, I know that there will likely be a lot of people happy that a lesser known fandom is getting priority, but it’s not great for business. There is a lot of repetition, I don’t mind lots of candles, but there are only so many tote bags and mugs I need. Whilst these would be amazing items in my first box, 20 boxes down the line not so much. The quality isn’t there any more either, in a box that I mainly got the fabric on the totes and cushion covers became shiny and cheap feeling and the booksleeves became some weird rubbery material. Then the plastic, oh so much plastic. I realise that for health and safety reasons some things need to be plastic wrapped but literally everything is. Individually wrapped items across thousands of boxes, which then comes down to my next issue. Everything is now mass produced and comes that way from the production line. I feel I am seeing fewer and fewer small business being represented as profit margins become the bottom line, I rarely find the cute sellers any more and that was one of my favourite things about getting a box. I’m also struggling to find use for may of the items, truth be told I have 3 boxes full of items that I have no real use for – I actually just used a ton for a giveaway on Instagram and a lot of stuff goes to Biba too.
But what about the B/T/S you say? Yes I can potentially make a little money back here but honestly all everyone wants to do is trade and I’ve never known the pages to be so saturated with the same items. Again, if you’re last in the shipping queue then the boat has been missed in the ISO’s.
So I’ve decided to ditch the boxes and go with a book only option for a few months, the beautiful books are by far my favourite items. Whilst the book only option is VAT free, it still not that much of a cheaper option though and with book sellers like Waterstones getting in on the market for sprayed edges, I can get beautiful editions in store and save myself the postage. I’ve only had one book only arrive so far and honestly the cost of the book was no where near the cost of the subscription and I have to admit I felt more than a little ripped off. The other downside is the huge FOMO that I’ll get that maybe this month will be the month where every item is amazing. But honestly deep down I know that even the great items will end up in the box of stuff too.
So ultimately, I think the bubble has finally burst for me and I know that I’m not alone in this feeling. I’m glad though that there are still plenty of people loving them though and that my subscription cancellation has opened up an opportunity for someone to feel the same joy that I first felt. There is still a place for these boxes but I think that there is also a place for a business to really plug a gap for people wanting something just a little different with their boxes!