Discussion | Are Book Crates Worth It?

While Tuesday’s are usually Top 10 Tuesday days, I really didn’t like the prompt for this week (Book Quotes) so I thought I’d bring you something a little bit different. This is my first ever Let’s Discuss… type post and it’s about something that has really been bugging me for a good few months now – whether book crates are worth buying?

I’ve been around the book blogosphere for almost a year and it’s almost impossible to escape the book crate posts that crop up every month where fellow book bloggers share their unboxing’s and joyfully (or tearfully) share what they got in their book crates that month. Despite all of the hype around them, I have never really paid attention to book crates until recently. At first, I didn’t have any interest in them and wasn’t overly impressed by the contents of some of the crates I did see people sharing, but after seeing monthly posts I began to feel a little bit left out that I wasn’t part of this community event so I decided to do a little bit of research into whether it would be worth buying one.

Below I want to share some of my thoughts about book crates and would love to hear from you all on what you think about book crates too!

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1. The Surprise

Probably one of the most exciting aspects of book crates is the surprise of not knowing what you’re going to get in your box. Although the monthly theme gives you an idea, you’re never sure what might be included. Whilst I really like the idea of getting a complete surprise each month, there’s also a big, anxious part of me that would worry that I wouldn’t like the book and/or other contents. If so, that would just lead to me getting really upset and feeling as though I’ve wasted my money so something that relies on surprises is always going to be a risk for me!

One solution to this problem is to try to buy the box after the fact. Aside from subscribing or purchasing a single box, you can also buy past boxes if there are still some available through the book crate’s website. This makes it much easier as you can see exactly what’s included but is also a risk as boxes aren’t always available after their initial release!

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2. Exclusive Hardbacks

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Another really exciting aspect of book crates is the new release hardbacks which usually have exclusive covers for the book crate and are usually signed too! I can only imagine how amazing it would be to open up your crate to find an exclusive, signed new release which you can delve straight into and display on your shelves knowing that only other subscribers of that book crate will have the same copy as you!

The only drawbacks to this are when I’ve seen people received a copy of a new release that they had pre-ordered, so end up with two copies, or receive a book that they don’t like!

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3. Featured Artwork

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love that book crates feature work by artists in their boxes! I’m a big fan of collecting fandom related and/or pretty art postcards to display on my walls or my bookshelves. They also make really nice accessories for people who bookstagram. Supporting artists is always great so this is something I really like about book crates.

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4. Themed Goodies

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Ahhh… themed goodies. One of two things that I’m most torn on. In theory, themed goodies are great. I for one think you can never have too many bookmarks or candles and have seen some other really lovely accessories included in book boxes such as letters from authors. However, I always have two concerns about themed goodies:

  • Does the amount of themed goodies included level out the cost of the boxes?
  • The inclusion of jewelry and makeup.

In the first instance, I’ve seen some book boxes that have loads of stuff included which seem really high quality, enjoyable and well-worth the money. But I have also seen some boxes released that barely seem to have anything included in them. Looking through some of the more well-known book crate websites, it’s clear that each box massively varies in terms of how much is included. While some provide 4-6 items in their boxes, others only include 2-3. If I were to receive a box that only had 2-3 little bits in it, I’m not sure if I would feel that the expense was worth it?

Another big concern for me is the inclusion of things like jewelry and make-up in these boxes. I’ve noticed since starting my blog that there are definitely much more female identifies bloggers than there are male or non-binary bloggers and I think that the marketization of these boxes really reflects that. However, there are lots of people, regardless of gender, who don’t like jewelry or makeup. As a transmasculine person who has a lot of bad memories associated with both of those things, receiving them in my box would make me feel super uncomfortable (I can’t even touch jewelry). I would have to get my partner to throw it away or find someone else to give it to, which would make me feel like I couldn’t enjoy the box as much.

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5. PRICE

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The single most important factor for me though is the price of book crates. I came across a March box that I was really tempted to buy but when I worked out the cost of how much it would be for me, an international book blogger, it came to an extortionate amount. This is obviously a really complex and tricky area to consider because the people who put the crates together, authors, artists, and creators deserve to be well-paid for the things that they produce but, in my experience, this is often excluding poor and international book bloggers more and more. For the most popular book crates I worked out the following amounts for one box from a variety of producers:

OwlCrate$30 plus $20 shipping = $50 or £36.03
LitJoy = $30 plus $13 shipping = $43 or £30.98
Unicorn Crate = $36.95 plus $30 shipping = $66.95 or £48.25
The Bookie Box = $33.99 plus $25 shipping = $58.99 or £42.51

There is no way that I would able to afford to buy any of these boxes. If I was lucky, I might be able to buy a LitJoy box as a super rare treat for myself but it’s definitely not something I could afford very often and pigs would fly before I would be able to pay upwards of £40 for a book box! Unfortunately, as someone who is both poor and an international blogger, the likelihood of me ever getting my hands on a book crate is very low unless someone were to gift me one or I got one in the sale.

There has been one book box that I’ve found which is UK based which seems really reasonably priced which is FairyLoot which is £26 plus £3.60 shipping. This is a lot easier for those based in the UK to afford, however for there are many who would struggle to afford £30 too.

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This makes me feel actually quite sad as there are a lot of things that international book bloggers are having to miss out on simply because we don’t live in America. Fewer books to request on our country-specific Netgalley’s, giveaways, US only pre-order swag, lovely hand-made merch from Etsy, you name it and a lot of us can’t have it because of our location and/or economic status which is really, really frustrating. A lot of the merch included in book boxes is often also used in bookstagram posts meaning that we also lose out by now being able to decorate our pictures in the same way as others which is something that has begun to bother me when using Instagram.

If the shipping weren’t so expensive on book crates, I might feel that they were more worth the expense especially if you are only buying them every so often rather than a monthly subscription. Having watched a bunch of unboxing’s there are many book bloggers who clearly love book boxes and feel like they are worth the money a#so I would love to hear from you all about your experiences with them.


Do you regularly subscribe or occasionally buy book boxes?
Are you an international or poor book blogger who has similar issues to me?
Putting price aside, how do you feel about the contents of book boxes?


EST. 2015 (1)

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33 thoughts on “Discussion | Are Book Crates Worth It?

  1. I agree with you that international bloggers get excluded for these (unless we’re chosen to be reps for whichever crate/box). I also know what you mean about being left out. I won an OwlCrate back in 2016, and then also purchased one for myself, and in both cases, I disliked the books AND most of the merch that they came with. Then last year, I ordered another OwlCrate despite my previous experiences, because I had guessed what the book would be, and was going to buy it anyway. I hoped that it’d be one of those special editions, but I wasn’t lucky in that regard. I also knew that they would be including a candle from a company that I’d been wanting to try out, but could never justify purchasing from, because international shipping costs for candles are also INSANE.

    If there is one book crate that I would probably order now, considering my past experiences, it would be Fairyloot. I’ve liked the books and contents of almost every single one. BUT because I don’t live in the UK, the cost of the crate plus shipping adds up to an insane amount. I am happy that that one seems to be the most fairly-priced for you, therefore, since I think it’s one of the best (if not the best one). 🙂

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    1. The shipping costs make my heart stop. I was actually looking at some little badges and stuff to put on my birthday list that were from America on Etsy but it was £10 shipping for a badge that is only £2!!! I can’t believe how high the shipping is.

      It really sucks how little there is for non-UK people as well. We don’t usually have many options but it’s certainly more than everyone else. It’s so shocking how neglected the international market is!

      I might give Fairy Loot a try for April as it’s my birthday month so I’ll probs get my partner to buy one as a present and then won’t get too sad if I don’t enjoy it. Looking through their past boxes though they all seem really good, so fingers crossed! Someone just needs to make a box company for where you are now!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Gahhh yeah I feel your pain. Etsy shipping to Canada is awful too. If I’m looking at a $20 CAD candle, the shipping is between like $22-25 CAD…MORE THAN THE CANDLE! Like, what?! It’s awful.

        I hope that you get a Fairy Loot box for your birthday and LOVE it 😀

        Also, haha, Owlcrate is a Canadian company, but the boxes ship from the US, and cost more to ship to Canada. That’s another reason why I stopped ordering from them. I don’t know whether to be mad at them, or at Canada’s postal system for being overpriced (AND SLOW). Sigh.

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  2. I like the idea of a book crate, but they really aren’t for me. Spending 30+ EUR on one book is crazy, and I would be worried about the environmental impact of shipping from the US anyway.

    A lot of the books are also YA, which only makes up about 10% of my reading. I think these could be good for teens whos interest in reading is waning, and need the surprise and social aspect to get back into it.

    I did once get a subscription box from Japan, but I was quite disappointed when it came. Huge waste of money. I’d rather create custom surprise boxes for my partner and friends and have them do the same for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OOOOOOOHHHHH. I love the idea of boxes for friends! I know a few people who do it for each other and it seems like a much nicer idea, especially as you can actually tailor it to the person’s interests!

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  3. I’ve noticed that Owl Crate and Fairy Loot are two of the most popular boxes and the last two months they have had the same books as each other (The Cruel Prince and The Hazel Wood) They have had different goodies and different covers so if you ordered both you wouldn’t be completely screwed (I have seen two blogs that they ordered both! That would be super expensive!)

    I subscribe to Lit-Cube, which I enjoy. For me its a little bit cheaper than Owl Crate (but I live in the US) plus not everyone has it so it is a little more unique. Though lately I have been envious of the Owl Crate and Fairy loot boxes!

    Forever ago I did a post deciding which box to subscribe too: https://perfectlytolerable.com/2017/08/25/book-subscription-boxes/

    At the time Fairy Loot wasn’t accepting new subscribers.

    Sometimes I get stuff I don’t like, but thats part of the fun and the risk and the excitement of the whole thing. I love unboxing new stuff 🙂

    I know there are boxes that are only books. You could still get some of the fun without the risk of getting jewelry. Have you checked those out? I don’t know what the shipping is internationally.

    http://www.freshfictionbox.com/
    https://www.bookofthemonth.com/
    http://www.bookcase.club/

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    1. Ahhh, I love your post where you worked out which one to go with. Such organisation! I’ve decided to try Fairy Loot as it’s based in my country and my partner is going to get it for my birthday next month, so it seems like a great way to try. From then on if I liked it I would just get one on special occasions or if I really loved the theme for that month!

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  4. Personally, I can’t fathom spending so much money for only one book, which might be a book that you don’t even like! I pretty much never buy books though lol but these book boxes seem really not worth it personally.

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  5. Some of them are really great! I probably wouldn’t get them every month even without the extortionate shipping prices though.

    The one i really liked (owlcrate) has shipping price = crate price and it’s just a nope. I can’t justify that amount of money when i can get the new books for much cheaper.

    Yes, they do have exclusive covers, but still… 😦

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    1. I knoooooowwwwwww. Owl crate was the one I really, really wanted and I’m massively disappointed that I’m probably not ever going to get one, especially as we’ve had problems shipping from America before where our product has been held in UK customs and we’ve been forced to pay another £30 to have it released :/ So it would end up costing about £50-70 if that ever happened!

      I’m going to try Fairy Loot for my birthday and if it’s good just buy it for special occasions or when I especially love, love, love the sound of the theme. Def not a regular purchase though!

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  6. book crates are so simultaneously dreamy and unrealistic bc you’re right, they’re SO EXPENSIVE. i’m in college and so all my extra money goes to food, etc. so there’s that lol. but I’ve always wanted to try OwlCrate bc I love YA so much and they seem to send very good material?? I think I might buy one crate for my sister’s birthday and just unofficially share it with her xD and it’s so true that most crates seem to be gender specific????? disappointing considering customers are DIVERSE.

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    1. Haha definitely buy one for your sister and share it, and then ask for one for your birthday! I think that’s how I’m going to proceed (only on special occasions). I only recently graduated from university and my partner is in a low income job, plus we have a dog and a hamster and our own flat to run without any financial assistance from parents so things like book boxes are definitely a dream!

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  7. I’ve yet to purchase any book crates since, even though I am from the US, the price is too much for me to swallow on something I might not even WANT. Yes, the surprise factor is wonderful, but I find everything else isn’t enough to push me over the edge. I don’t really like a lot of clutter, so while I like looking at all the extra goodies I doubt I’d want most of them for myself, and I’m very picky about what books I pay full price for. I think if there were boxes of ONLY books and maybe some bookmarks, I’d be more inclined, especially if there were a catalog of sorts of I could “choose” from and then the crate was a surprise out of the books I already mentioned I had an interest in.

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    1. I think there might be some who do ones like that, if I remember correctly from when I was researching different companies for this post. I know there was definitely one which was just a book and it was a lot cheaper and I know a few sellers on etsy do “book date” type books where they wrap them up for you and surprise you.

      The clutter thing… I can only imagine. We only live in a small 1 bedroom flat with a dog so we don’t have tonnes of space, and I only have one bookshelf which is already at max capacity so storing stuff would definitely be an issue. I feel like that aspect of the boxes really plays into a lot of book bloggers book-hoarding tendencies where they like to collect books and related products, and would probably only be super useful to people who bookstagram.

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  8. I’ve been seeing book boxes around since I was a teenager and despite now working a full time job, I still don’t think I could justify a regular subscription box. Maybe a one-off for a special occasion (a birthday box for yourself sounds like a great way to treat yourself! A friend of mine bought me a 3-month subscription box for my birthday and I got to enjoy the surprise without feeling like I wasted money if I didn’t love the contents, plus 3 chances of getting good things).

    I think subscription boxes in general all tend to be expensive. I don’t think that they are necessarily overpriced especially shipping/postage, a box that size would cost £7-10 just to post domestically in the UK. Illumicrate for example was, up until recently, being run by one person who doesn’t have the same capacity large companies have to offer cheaper postage.

    I have always seen book boxes as something that someone more privileged than me (or perhaps less spendthrift than me) would be able to get. I just don’t think it would be worth it for one book, especially if you are disappointed. And while the extras are very nice, I’m not sure what I would necessarily *do* with them afterwards. Perhaps it’s something I’d invest in in the future when I have more disposable income, but not right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment! My partner is going to buy me a one-off box for my birthday as a little test to see if I like it and it’s a company that I’ve liked every single box they’ve done so far that are UK based so it’s not so bad as a one off thing or if I was especially excited about the theme for that month but it’s definitely not something I could do on the regular!

      The issues you highlighted in regards to smaller companies are definitely why I think it can be such a tricky topic. One of my best friends is an artist so I always want to make sure that artists, authors, and various creators are paid well for the work that they do because the things they create take a hell of a lot of work, and as you said, with smaller companies they can’t offer anything cheaper in terms of price/shipping which is understandable.

      I definitely do view it as something that more privileged readers and bloggers have access to though. I have very similar issues with others who always seem to be able to spend $50-$100 on books every month or buy new bookstagram accessories because it’s just not something I would ever be able to afford for myself, and as a result I often end up feeling like I’m missing out on things! It can be pretty difficult for that reason.

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  9. Great post! I have gotten a quite a few book crates, but now that I think about it…I don’t think they are worth it. There are some boxes where I eventually got rid of the books that I got in them or still haven’t read them. I also don’t ever use any of the other book related things I got in the boxes much or at all. So I feel like in the past I’ve wasted so much money on them!

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  10. In 2016, I had a pretty steady job but still lived with my parents (I mean … I live with my parents now as well, but whatever) and could put aside a book box budget each month. I mostly ordered OwlCrate but also tried FairyLoot once. I loved the idea of getting exclusive stuff, but it is true that sometimes the goodies/artwork just wasn’t that impressive. I understand that there is a lot of work going into those, but if you aren’t that much into the fandom or just don’t have any place to put that kind of stuff, it’s a shame. I have also LOVED items in my boxes, especially when I got a Funko pop but in the end, they just aren’t affordable for international bloggers. How are we expected to pay the price of the box (which in itself is justifiable for a hardcover book and the goodies) and then double that price just because of shipping. It’s such a shame and therefore I stopped again after a couple months.

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    1. Yeah, there are some boxes where I wouldn’t mind paying the $30 for the actual box on the odd occasion as I do really like the things included in some of them, but the shipping is what completely kills it for me. Especially the ones where it takes it up to $60!!!!!

      Because of the surprise element as well it can be hard to know if it’s even going to be a fandom that you enjoy? I can just imagine getting a box for something that I care 0% about

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      1. With the boxes I ordered, I have guessed 100% right on the book that was featured, but there were still single items in it that I did not care much about or the same fandom was featured over and over again.

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  11. Being in the UK, I have the same issues re: NetGalley and cost of book crates. Illumicrate do a £30 box every three months, so £120 a year – it looks very nice, but I can’t justify the cost. These crates have some exclusive stuff, but it’s just not tempting enough for me, even if there are signed copies. I’d be happier getting a box where it was a bit simpler: a book plus just a couple of small themed items, rather than a mug and a candle and God knows what else.

    It’s a shame, because what I like about subscription boxes is the surprise element. I currently have a Korean culture one, which I adore for the random things I’ll get and what I’ll learn, as well as being reasonably priced. Just make an affordable book crate, someone!

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    1. The Korea culture one sounds amazing!!!! I never thought of crates for non-book related things and that sounds like the perfect box to receive!

      I did have a look at Illumicrate but don’t actually like it very much and there are a few companies that just send you a surprise book but I would hate that even more xD My partner is going to get me the Fairy Loot one for my birthday next month so I can at least experience the joy once

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  12. I didn’t even think of some of the problems that you mentioned with the book crates, especially about who it usually targets. Sometimes I think about buying one but then I think about how most of the stuff I won’t use and how much wasted space it would leave in my dorm. Like my dorm is already small and cluttered 🙂

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  13. I could never afford book crate boxes. I’m also a small international book blogger and there is absolutely no way I could buy even the cheapest of the options mentioned above. 30£ it’s still a lot of money for just one book. As much as I love the art work featured, I’m not much of a candle person so I know I wouldn’t use those as well and I just know that for the same amount of money I can find several books I know I’ll be interesting in, and not leave it to chance.
    I’ve considered owlcrate before but when I went to the international shipping and saw how much it was to ship to my country I was instantly taken back.

    I wish I had access to signed editions, I wish I had access to exclusive covers, I wish I had access to lovely and beautiful art, I wish I had access to letters or notes from the author… but I simply can’t afford it, and it’s such a shame that we have to miss out on so many things just because of the place we live in.

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  14. Honestly, unboxings are pretty much the most drool-worthy posts out there for me. Except for the giant book hauls [that I don’t get people can even afford sometimes.] I love seeing what items were included in a box and then sometimes cursing myself for not ordering one myself.
    On the other hand, I do live in Belgium so shipping costs are through the roof no matter what. The only subscription I started and still have is FairyLoot and they rarely disappoint me. I have to admit, once in a while there’s a necklace or bracelet in there, but overall.. I quite like the box. [I’m not a jewelry person either.] The necklaces are fun items to incorporate in my bookcases since I don’t quite mind using them that way. Lip balm is something that’s included once in a while as well, but I guess we can all relate to needing that at some point?

    Overall I just don’t mind my FairyLoot subscription at all. Sure, sometimes there are items in there that I don’t necessarily like but I simply put those aside to use for future giveaways. I think I almost have enough to host one again with a bookish items box as a prize. [I sometimes buy random small things for that as well though.]
    Also, FairyLoot has already giving me a ton of fun reads. I don’t think I’ve been really disappointed by any of the books I’ve read so far, but I haven’t read them all yet.

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  15. I live in the United States but I don’t subscribe to any of the book subscriptions. I love the exclusive covers for certain books but because I am a picky reader, I am always afraid I will get a book that I am not interested or receive a book I already purchased. I love watching unboxing videos or looking up photos on instragram for some of the subscription boxes though.

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  16. This is such a great post, I loved it so much.
    I really like seeing and reading – mostly reading, since I don’t really watch booktube – unboxing of these beautiful bookish boxes. The surprise, the amazing, exclusive editions of books and so on, it makes me drool on my screen hahaha. That being said, I have never ordered a box like that and I don’t think I ever will – the price of the box with the shipping costs are just way too expensive for me and… I like the surprise, but also I’m scared that I wouldn’t like the items somehow? :/ I do love how some small shops are part of these boxes though and how their hand-made items, bookmarks and more are showcasted, that’s an amazing thing for sure 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely. I think it’s one thing to vicariously enjoy someone else receiving the box, but a lot more tense for me to receieve the box! My partner has ordered me one for my birthday though so even if I don’t *love* it then it’s okay because it was a present!

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