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…
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.
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.
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.
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,