7 Things To Look For in a Book Subscription Box

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Subscription box addiction is still alive and well, and one of the most popular categories is monthly book subscription boxes. With so many book subscription available, it’s important to know how they’re different from each other.

If you’re looking to join one of these monthly book clubs, there are a few things you should look for before joining.

7 Things to Look For in a Monthly Book Subscription Box


Many book subscription boxes have a theme for each monthly box they send. Most themes hint at what book the box will include as well as the types of items. This means that everything you receive in the box will relate to the theme selected, including the book. In some cases, this can limit what books are chosen, as the theme dictates the choices made overall.

Typically themes are announced one to two months before the boxes are shipped, giving customers time to decide if they’d like to receive that month’s themed box or not.

Some boxes don’t include a theme (like Uppercase Box), which means the book and items will be a total surprise.

For those who like having a heads up as to what the book they might receive, groups like Book Box Sherlocks can help subscribers guess what books are being sent in the most popular book subscriptions each month.

2. Book Genre

Photo by @booksandacupofjoee

The majority of book subscriptions choose books in a specific genre for their boxes. The most popular genre within book subscription boxes is young adult (YA). Other popular genres are romance, adult fiction and mystery.

Within the YA genre, some book subscriptions will only send a genre of books within YA, like YA fantasy (like Fairyloot). Most boxes will send different YA books each month, like YA science fiction, YA romance, YA contemporary, etc.

If this is something that is important to you, make sure you select a subscription box that sends the same book genre each month or provides clues via themes or hints that you can make an informed decision.

3. Book Selection

While this may seem similar to the last point, book selection is more about the big picture.

Do you want just big releases from popular authors? Do you want to discover books you may not have heard of that you’ll really enjoy? Are you interested in discovering new authors who have great stories to share?

The best way to get a feel for the types of books each subscription box typically selects is to check out each one’s “Past Boxes” page. This will give you a great sense of whether the types of books the box chooses matches what you expect or want to receive.

Plus, many book boxes have information posted about their methodology behind picking books. This is great information for readers who care about this aspect of the box most.

4. Bookish Items

book subscription box items_lifeinlit

Photo by @lifeinlit

Most book subscription boxes don’t just include a book; they also include book-related gifts. The number of items can vary based on the box: some book subscriptions include 5-7 items while others include 1-2 items.

There are some popular items that are typically included in most book subscription boxes, and the most commonly included ones are: Funko POP! figures, art prints, bookmarks, notebooks, candles and tea/coffee.

Another common feature of many book subscriptions is the inclusion of exclusive or custom-made items. This means that many of the bookish gifts included in a monthly box were made exclusively for that box and cannot be purchased elsewhere, making the box that much more valuable.

Plus, a few monthly book subscriptions offer a “Book Only” option (LINK), which allows a subscriber to purchase just the book for that month minus all the extra goodies for a lower price. This is a great option for readers who don’t want any extras but who still want a surprise book in the mail every month.

5. Fandoms

If you’re obsessed with a certain series or book-to-movie adaption, then looking carefully at each month’s box is important. Many themed boxes include information about what types of fandoms a month’s box are ideal for.

For example, a monthly book subscription might say: “Items will be perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince, A Court of Thorns and Roses and the Grisha trilogy!” This information is helpful in deciding if those items are worth the purchase of the box for many subscribers.

Note: a few book subscriptions don’t include fandom related items and opt for more generic book-lover goodies like reading journals, tote bags and other practical items. This is ideal for those who haven’t read a particular book series an item is themed around or for gifting to friends and family who might be casual readers.

6. Price

With so many options available, it’s easy to find a monthly book subscription that fits your price range. The main factors that contribute to price are: shipping costs and the number of items included.

Many book boxes are based in the U.S., which means that international subscribers pay a premium to have their package shipped overseas. Boxes like Fairyloot and Illumicrate are based in the U.K., which might be a cheaper option for those who live closer to that region.

Book subscriptions also offer a wide variety of the number of items. As previously mentioned, those that include 5-7 items will be more expensive than those that include 1-2 items.

The least expensive options are the Book Only subscriptions (like the ones Uppercase Box or Book of the Month Club offers).

7. Exclusive Book Content

exclusive book content book subscription box_fearyourex

Photo by @fearyourex

Along with the book and book-themed items, book subscriptions can also include extra content from the author. Boxes like Owlcrate and Fairyloot include notes from the author of the month or even a booklet with an interview with that author.

Uppercase Box includes a “Reading Experience” bookmark, where exclusive content from the author is paired with page numbers in the book, so that when readers come to that page in the book, they can access the corresponding content online (like deleted scenes from the book and author-made videos).

What did we miss? What else do you look for in book subscription boxes?

Lisa Parkin
Lisa Parkin
Lisa is the founder of Uppercase Box, the first young adult subscription box for avid readers. She also blogs about YA books on her blog, Read.Breathe.Relax.
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