Saturday, October 24, 2015

Book Subscription Boxes

For the month of October, I decided to try an experiment. I subscribed to two different book subscription boxes. A friend of mine had been getting Lootcrates and I was interested to see what else was out there in the world of subscription boxes where cool stuff magically showed up at my doorstep. I looked around at several boxes, discounted a few out of hand because of the cost, though they looked super shiny and cool, and settled on my two: Lit-Cube and Uppercase Box.

They both came this past week and I was super excited to see what I got. Let's start with Uppercase, since it arrived first.

Uppercase Box
Monthly Book Subscription Box For Young Adult Book Lovers
Cost: $23/month

I first noticed that the box was less of a box and more of a bag. Actually, it wasn't more of a bag. It was a bag.

Which was actually fine because I can always use another cloth bag. At the very least, some yarn can fit in there.

What was inside?

  • First & Then by Emma Mills, with signed book plate.
    This is not a book I would have picked myself. I don't read contemporary YA very often, and when I do, it's usually because it's generating a ton of buzz or there's a geeky theme. This was neither. The cool thing about this box is that there are post-it notes throughout the book with a URL and a code to type in, taking the reader to extra content, a video, poll, or some other interactive online component. Which is pretty damn cool. I haven't gotten too far into the book but the first post-it code leads to a short video from the author.
  • A tiny tin Alice's Enchantmints (Get it? Ha! So punny.) peppermint mints from The Unemployed Philosophers Guild
    Super cute tin. After these mints are gone, this will be the good tin to store spare stitch markers in a project bag, if a bit smaller than I'd prefer.
  • A Mad Hatter change purse
    I like this a lot, but I'm a bit of a loss as to what to do with it. It's a bit too small to use as a project bag. And a bit too large to actually stick in my purse. Also, it's yellow, which is not a color I generally gravitate toward.
  • a sheet of temporary tattoos inspired by The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
    Okay, these are cute, but not something I would ever use, even when I was younger. I will probably end up giving this to my goddaughters, who at 2 and 5, may appreciate them more.
So a pretty eclectic bag, which is kind of cool, but also a bit odd at the same time. A contemporary novel and then two items inspired by a classic fantasy book and some swag to promote a SF series. I'm honestly a little disappointed because while it looked like the book may have been carefully selected (there's a hand-written note from Lisa, the owner of Uppercase, on why she loved it), the rest of it seems random. I had assumed that the box items would be curated around the month's book but it looks like I may be wrong.

I'm not dismissing this box out of hand. Part of this experiment is to try reading more outside my comfort zone, so a contemporary YA novel definitely fits. I'm looking forward to seeing what next month brings.

Onto box number two!

Surprise boxes filled with awesome book geekery
Cost: $34.95/month, with shipping

First, look at this adorable box! Look at it!

What was inside:
Unlike Uppercase, Lit-Cube curates each box around a chosen theme. The theme or October was "Supernatural, Idjits." There's even a little trading card in the box with the theme's logo (a faceless drawing of Bobby Singer's face). Obviously, this box is based around the TV show, Supernatural, which features two incredibly easy-on-the-eyes brothers driving around America fighting demons and ghosts and other supernatural beasties. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.

In the box was:

  • The Spawn by Ken Nolan
    YIKES. Okay, 100% not a book I would have ever in a million years picked up to read. One: horror? Not my thing. AT ALL. And there are creepy demon hands on the cover. I immediately wanted to nope that book away, but I reminded myself that part of this madcap experiment (which I'm spending actual money on, by the way, so I really should read the damn book!) was to expose myself to books I wouldn't have necessarily picked-up myself, so I'll read it, I guess. In the daytime. With all the blinds open. And possibly in public. With lots of people around.
  • An ebook reader sleeve that reads "books MY DRUG OF CHOICE"
    I'm good on ebook reader cases, having bought one for every one I own already. It's neat but I'm honestly not sure what to do with it. I may end up giving it away.
    (As an aside, at last count, I owned four ebook readers. I have two Sony Readers, model PRC-650, one for my primary reader and one as back-up in case that first one breaks. You will never convince me that any other reader is better, and I am still bitter that Amazon undercut Sony in the market, causing them to decide it wasn't economically viable to keep manufacturing the Readers. I also have a Kindle Fire, a birthday/holiday present from my BFF and her husband from a few years back. It had honestly been collecting dust until this past year when I got an Oyster subscription and sideloaded the Oyster app onto it. I also, after much soul-searching, bought one regular Kindle with no bells or whistles. It was $9 because Amazon had some magic algorithm to determine who bought a ton of books but didn't have a kindle and offered all these people coupons. I wasn't one of them, but my office mate was and let me use it because I was desperately afraid my Sony was going to kick the bucket at any moment. I loathe the UI and only used it for the free loan I get from Amazon Prime every month, but it's getting shelved now that I'm using the Fire more.)
  • A keychain with a dangle that reads, "ALWAYS KEEP FIGHTING," two boxing glove dangles, and two mini corked bottles: one with salt and the other that did have water in it but the cork soaked it all up (rock salt and holy water, for fighting angry spirits, natch).
    This is, according to the card that came in the box, a tribute to a cause actor Jared Padalecki is supporting to bring awareness to mental health issues. I appreciate the sentiment. Really not sure what I'm going to do with the keychain.
  • Three mini-bottles of nail polish from Spellbound Nails
    I like nail polish, so I'm actually pretty excited about these.
  • Cards for free ebook downloads of Caelum by Mandie Stevens, and It's a Ghoul Thing, a paranormal anthology.
  • Promotional buttons for The Edge of Eden by Mandie Stevens and Namaste by Melissa Lumis
    I had just gone through a huge crafting project to turn the collection of useless pin buttons I've collected over the years into useful magnets. Most of them had sentimental value; some of them didn't and I will probably end up throwing them away. I have a feeling these two will also end up in the rubbish bin. I love the idea of buttons as free promotional swag but in practice, pin buttons are one of some of the most useless things on the face of the planet.
  • Speaking of buttons... a larger button that reads," SAVING PEOPLE. KILLING THINGS. THE FAMILY BUSINESS."
  • A promotional postcard for The Dream Slayer series by Jill Cooper
    These books actually sound pretty cool. The first one was a freebie so I downloaded it. I was hoping there was a special deal for lit-cube subscribers but I'm totally willing to buy them all if the first one is good.
I'm well aware my feelings about this particular box are mainly stemming from the fact I keep looking over at the book expecting it to eat my face and suck my soul to hell. (Actually, that may be part of the plot. I'm not fully sure. I'm kind of scared to investigate.) But other than the nail polish, it's not really stuff I will use. However, I do love the concept of this box and it's obvious each item was selected with care and with the theme in mind.

Next month's theme is "Immortal Kiss," which is admittedly making my heart sink a little since I don't read paranormal romance much (at all). But it may surprise me. And I keep reminding myself about expanding boundaries yadda yadda. It's good for me.

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