Why I Don’t Subscribe to Book Boxes

This might be an unpopular opinion in the book community, but I’ve never subscribed to Owl Crate or Book of the Month or Fae Crate. In fact, I’ve never subscribed to any book subscription service ever. And for someone who loves reading as much as I do, some might find it a little strange. Book boxes are the Christmas (or Hanukkah or Eid or whatever you celebrate) of books! The boxes are full of surprises – signed copies, amazing art-work, exclusive items. Things you can’t find anywhere else! And yet…

Space

Throughout my life thus far, I’ve lived in four US states and three countries. And every time I move, I have to reevaluate how much I want the books in my collection. Books are heavy to lug from place to place, expensive to ship in bulk and just not always…necessary. These days, I only buy books that I really, really want. Everything else I borrow through the library or read on my Kindle. I’m also not a big re-reader, so even the books I love and needed to own, often end sit on my shelf collecting dust. One day maybe I’ll have that gorgeous house with the library I always wanted, but for now, I have to make choices that reflect my nomadic lifestyle.

Cost

Book boxes are expensive! If I do buy physical books, I like to buy them second-hand at used book stores. It’s sustainable, cheaper and often you get copies with interesting underlines, highlights, bookmarks, handwritten notes or scraps of paper – in a word, character. And if I don’t buy a book, I support my local community library. I also like to scour the Kindle Daily or Weekly deals on Amazon for cheap ebooks. I’ve gotten some really awesome books that way.

Sustainability

Books take resources – paper, ink, air travel, etc and though I sometimes can’t resist buying a book with a gorgeous cover, I can’t always justify how wasteful it is. Pair that with all the little “extras” included in book boxes that will likely sit gathering dust in one of my drawers and it’s just not a green choice for me. Sustainability isn’t about denying yourself everything, but finding sustainable solutions or making informed consumer choices. This is much easier to do and I feel way better when I’m buying books second hand or supporting a local book shop with my purchase.

You Don’t Know What You’re Getting

Just like the dreaded White Elephant gift exchange, Book Boxes are not tailored to you personally. Sometimes the book you get isn’t the one you want. Or the extras aren’t interesting. Or you hate the smell of the candle you received. Or its cheaply made or packaged in a ton of unnecessary plastic. And now you have a lot of physical stuff sitting around your house taking up space. I like to be intentional with my consumerism – researching brands and their sustainability models before purchasing – and with a book box subscription, you often have no idea what you’re getting, how it was made, where it came from or if you’ll like it. I love surprises, but surprises are so much better when it’s something you already had your eye on.

Individualism

I love being part of the book community and communities in general. I like to do tags and participate in group reads or events. But sometimes, communities tend to adapt a hive-mind when it comes to what you need to do or own to be a fan. Shelfies, book hauls and unboxings are all a fun way to pass time on Youtube and introduce you to new books, but it’s not necessary to buy things to be a fan. One of my favorite Booktubers Cindy Pham (readwithcindy) always emphasizes that you can take books out of the library and don’t have to have the coveted Instagramable “shelves” to have a voice in the book community.


All that said, I do love a special edition! I just sprung for the new Leigh Bardugo Lives of Saints and a gorgeous Owl Crate edition of Naomi Novik’s new book A Deadly Education. These will be much loved additions to my collection, without any added extras I don’t want.


How about you? Have you ever bought a subscription book service? Or paid for any subscription service? What do you like/not like about it? Leave me a comment so we can chat about it.

Until next time,

15 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Subscribe to Book Boxes

  1. I get where you’re coming from about book subscriptions. I do actually subscribe to a subscription box and really like it but I know it’s not for everyone. I like the one I subscribe to because it’s based in Ireland where I am and the extra items in the box are all from small Irish companies so I like that it supports small local business. I’ve gotten lucky with liking all the books so far. Also, the extra items are a chocolate bar of some sort and usually a bath or beauty product so all stuff I can use.
    I’ve never had much interest in the book boxes I always see people unboxing on YouTube because I have no interest in getting a ton of random items I don’t need potentially themed around books I don’t like or have never read.

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    1. Oh, that’s so nice to subscribe to a box that supports local businesses though! And I’m glad you’ve enjoyed everything in them. And yeh, that’s definitely a perk – potentially finding books you wouldn’t have otherwise found.

      Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The only one I’ve subscribed to before is the Bookworm Box. I liked that the $ went to charity. I did end up with WAY too many physical copies sitting around that I hadn’t read yet, though.

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  3. I did it last year to test it out and yes, it’s expensive so I cancelled it by the end of the year. Most of the items I acquired from the boxes became birthday and Christmas gifts so that worked out haha! I mostly like to borrow my books from the library or online library also. I used to re-read a lot when I was younger and had time. Now with two kids and running a household and small business, I read a book once- so I agree with all your points on this.

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    1. That’s actually something I hadn’t thought of – you can always regift items (or list them on ebay lol)!

      And yes, I’m not a great re-reader as an adult. No time! Good on you for making reading a priority though with two kids and a business! x

      Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, I totally agree. I was tempted by some subscriptions, especially all those nice little additions to the book boxes, but they so rarely contain books I actually want to read, let alone have. And sustainability is an issue, too – I usually borrow books from my library and only when I’m certain I will be coming back to a given book I’m willing to buy it 🙂

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  5. I like that they can give you hints to guess what the book is and I think that can help you decide about which box to get. I decided not to get them anymore mostly for bookshelf space lol 🙂 awesome post!

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  6. I’ve never subscribed to any book box service, and after seeing some unboxings on booktube, I don’t plan on getting one. Aside from money and space being an issue, the boxes feel like they’re made for a specific book lover/fandom in mind. Plus, I can get this kind of swag at my bookstore, which feels like a better investment to me at the end of the day.

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  7. You make a lot of great points, many of which are the reason I stay away from bigger subscription boxes (I AM subscribed to Book of the Month but it is mostly because I can choose what books come in my box each month).

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