What Bookish Goodies Were In the Book Riot Subscription Box?

January 8, 2014 Features, For Discussion, Just For Fun 24

Many of you are likely familiar with the Book Riot website.  You may be less familiar with “subscription boxes,” so I’ll take a moment to explain.  Imagine a mystery box of goodies that shows up on your doorstep every month or three months.  You pay a fixed amount for a subscription without knowing what you will receive, but you are assured that the value of all the goods in the box will exceed the cost of your subscription.  I’d heard of subscription boxes before Book Riot decided to take part, but I was never interested enough to subscribe to any.  There are boxes for just about any kind of product you can imagine; some are focused on food, or beauty products, or fashion products, or even items for your dog.

A few months ago, I saw a tweet from Book Riot announcing their collaboration with a company called Quarterly.  Quarterly has various “curators” who put together some of their favorite items for subscription boxes.  The various curators include Nina Garcia, Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” Pharrell Williams, and several NFL players.  I started to get very intrigued, and after subscribing to Book Riot’s box, I also subscribed to Nina’s and several others.  I then subscribed to boxes on other sites, including Love With Food and Popsugar.  (Note: both of those links include referral codes.)  You could say I’ve developed a subscription box addiction, and I’m hoping this addiction begins to ease, because it’s not a cheap habit to maintain.

The Book Riot box finally arrived a couple of weeks ago, and I unwrapped it with excitement, wondering what kind of bookish goodies I would find.

Like Brad Pitt, I asked myself:


And here we have it…


Welcome Letter


Let’s take a closer look at the individual items:




The highlight of the box is the annotated hardcover of Lexicon by Max Barry: List Price: $27; Amazon: $20.  (I’m including prices because these boxes promise to deliver value exceeding the cost – $50, in this case.  Of course, a signed and/or annotated book has a value beyond its list price, but that value will differ for everyone, so we’ll stick with the base price.)  I actually already own this book, although I have not yet read it.  But this annotated version is very special, of course.  I’ve seen authors do giveaways for annotated copies of their books, and I think that’s such a wonderful idea.  I’m someone who always watches the Blu-Ray special features, so this behind-the-scenes stuff is very appealing to me.

If I may sound greedy for a moment, I would have LOVED it if the notes were written in the book, rather than on Post-Its.  I understand why it was done this way, though.  I don’t know how many boxes Book Riot sold, but it may have been physically impossible for the author to annotate all of these books.  Although, if he personally wrote all of these Post-Its, rather than getting them photocopied in some way, it seems like it would not have been TOO much additional effort to have the books done by hand.  This would also involve additional cost (possibly significant), however, and time in getting the books back and forth to the author.  To be clear, I’m not  complaining about the Post-Its, because I think they are a wonderful addition to the book, especially considering the relatively small amount of money I paid.  Like I said, I’m just expressing my greedy wishes.


Book Lover’s 2014 Calendar List Price: $13; Amazon: $7
Paper Pastries Pencil Set: $8

I have not yet decided what to do with either of these items.  I don’t use these little desk calendars, but if I was to start, it may as well be one for book lovers!  And if I wanted to use these pencils, I’d have to hunt down a pencil sharpener.

ARC Excerpt of Never Have I Ever by Katie Heaney: $1 (?)  This is a cute idea for a book excerpt.  I tend to avoid excerpts, however, simply because I don’t want to get myself overly excited about a book that has a while to be released.
ee Cummings Mini Notebook: $6 This little, pocket-sized notebook consists of about 20 blank, lined pages.  I don’t know what would be the best use of it: maybe a few grocery lists?

Poster: $5 (estimate)  Finally, we have this posted based on the book, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope.  I hadn’t heard of this book, but there are lots of great reviews on Goodreads.  I may give this poster to a relative who is a huge Star Wars fan.

The big question is: Was this box worth my $50?  The retail value of the items (including some of my estimates) is $60.  A more realistic value, based on Amazon pricing for some of the items, is $47.  As I’ve mentioned, this does not include the variable value of the annotations.  For me, there’s also a value attached to the excitement of opening these boxes, although now that I’ve subscribed to about 10 different boxes, I expect that to diminish.  If I was to walk into a store with my credit card, the only item above I would consider purchasing is the book.  Without having read it yet, I can’t say what I would be willing to pay for it, but if the synopsis and reviews are an indication, I expect to like it.

For now, I’m going to keep my subscription to Book Riot’s box.  If the non-book items continue to be outside my taste, however, I will have to cancel.

Now, let me hear from you!  Do you think I got my money’s worth?  What do you think of the concept of subscription boxes?  Do you subscribe to any?


24 Responses to “What Bookish Goodies Were In the Book Riot Subscription Box?”

  1. Carrie

    I personally DNF’d Lexicon (the logic in the world building was lacking for me.) so I’m probably not the one to ask.

    I’ve always been intrigued by subscription boxes, but have never parted with money for one! $50 seems a bit high for the content, but I may ponder this one over.
    Carrie recently posted…Frozen: Heart of Dread #1My Profile

    • Stephanie

      I hope I have better luck with Lexicon! And I hope Book Riot steps it up for the next one.

  2. Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl

    I’m glad you’re relatively excited about the box! I, myself, would have been pretty disappointed in its contents. I have no interest in any of the items. I feel like $50 is really expensive for a box of things you might not even want. I’ve always loved the idea of this kind of thing, but I guess I’m too much of a control freak to shell out money for mystery items. I think the anticipation and excitement would be the best part of participating in something like this! I love getting things in the mail. 🙂
    Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl recently posted…That Artsy Librarian | My Decision to Get a Master’s DegreeMy Profile

    • Stephanie

      Before I typed out the cost of everything, I thought this was a great value. Now that I read it… I’m not sure. I’m still enjoying the novelty of opening all of these mystery boxes, but I will probably eventually be disturbed by the amount of money I’ve spent for that enjoyment! I have been able to give some things away to people, and I’ve had luck selling some items on Amazon to help offset the cost. But it does seem kind of crazy to spend this money just to turn around and sell stuff or give it away.

      Who knows – maybe this post will help me see reason and save me some money. 🙂

  3. Nicole @ WCW

    I thought about getting the book riot subscription but I wasn’t sure about actually going for it, so I might wait for another box or two before completely making up my mind. I’m not sure how I feel about the contents of the box, since everything is such a mystery. For me, I’m not sure about the price, considering this box doesn’t seem exciting. Although, an annotated copy of a book would be completely awesome…still, I’m glad you’re excited about it!

    The only subscription box is the Julep Maven box, which I love to pieces, but I haven’t really looked at other ones.
    Nicole @ WCW recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Goals/Resolutions For 2014My Profile

    • Stephanie

      It’s a good thing there’s an “excitement factor” in opening these boxes, because otherwise I would be terribly disappointed about the contents of some of the other boxes I’ve received. I’m interested to see if BR will keep going with the annotated books as a standard item in each box.

    • Stephanie

      Does that mean I can’t give away the pencils or little notebook to you? 🙂

      I’m definitely going to keep up with it for at least one more box!

  4. April @ The Steadfast Reader

    Thanks so much for the info! For months I was torn on whether to get the Book Riot box for myself or as a gift for my sister (or both!). I ultimately decided against it because there was so little information on WHAT the box would contain, I understand that the surprise is part of the allure, but everything was so vague. I may consider subscribing to the next one… I would have loved the annotated book. 🙂
    April @ The Steadfast Reader recently posted…2014 TBR Pile ChallengeMy Profile

    • Stephanie

      It’s hard when you don’t know what will be in them, especially since this was Book Riot’s very first box. Hopefully now you have a bit of an idea on what to expect for the next one!

  5. Cait

    That sounds like a great idea…but it probably wouldn’t do it in my country. I think it’d be nice for the notes to be on the books, too. 😉 Oh well, I guess they thought you might want to get rid of them later?! (Why, though?!!) At least it’s fun opening surprises!
    Cait recently posted…Change Yer Fate and Flynn Rider’s NoseMy Profile

    • Stephanie

      I think the post-its were the most cost-effective way to do it, and now that I know they sold 900 boxes, I assume they must have been photocopied somehow.

  6. Jaclyn Canada

    This is an entirely new concept to me. I love this post and seeing all the things you received. I agree that the annotated book is by far the most valuable and exciting item, but there are a lot of other fun things here. I just wonder how these would work for all personalities. Thanks so much for sharing 😀 Jaclyn @ JC’s Book Haven.
    Jaclyn Canada recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday [26]My Profile

    • Stephanie

      I know they can’t please everyone, but I think they have to do better next time on the “extras.” The annotated book did feel special, but everything else was pretty generic.

  7. Nikki @ Foil the Plot

    I’ve known about subscription boxes for quite some time but have yet to sign up for one. I had NO idea BookRiot was participating in this (where HAVE I been!?). Though I love the idea of the book subscription box, I think $50 is a little steep. Was this the monthly or quarterly cost? If it was quarterly then that might be a little more reasonable on my budget. Thanks for sharing the details!
    Nikki @ Foil the Plot recently posted…TGIF / 36My Profile

  8. Nicole

    Have you heard of Birchbox? It is a beauty subscription box service and I got a year subscription last year. I loved getting a box every month – and it was actually only $10 a month so I definitely got my money’s worth in products, but of all the products I received I actually only LOVED and wound up purchasing a few things so I didn’t get it again this year. I think subscription boxes are a great idea and I may try some new ones, but they can also be hit or miss. I think you got some cool things in this box, but like you said, I wouldn’t necessarily purchase all of these things had I had the choice. But still cool, I look forward to seeing what you get next time!
    Nicole recently posted…Stacking the Shelves (54) – Jan 11thMy Profile

    • Stephanie

      I have heard of Birchbox. I’m hesitant to try to the beauty boxes, simply because I think of the samples that I get from Sephora – and those are ones I actually choose – that just sit unused in my bathroom cabinet.

  9. Jess @ Literary, etc

    I debated with buying a subscription and then when the sign-up closed was a little disappointed that I waited. Then I eagerly waited to see what everyone got and when pictures started popping up I was sort of glad I sat it out. I can’t imagine what those abroad think because there was extra shipping involved so I doubt their boxes came close to the actual price of the box and they spent more on shipping. That being said, I might give round 2 a try when sign-ups open, but I’m still not sure.
    Jess @ Literary, etc recently posted…The Roundtable: Reading Signed BooksMy Profile

    • Stephanie

      I don’t know how those outside of the US could be pleased with this ($20 extra shipping for Canada and $30 everywhere else.) Maybe you should wait one more time to see what the second box looks like before you dive in. I already feel like I’ve committed myself!

  10. Kay @ It's a Book Life

    I’ve never heard of these gift boxes before. It would be so much fun to get a box full of surprise goodies in the mail. It kind of reminds me of those little bags you could buy for a few dollars but you didn’t know what was in them. Surprises are always fun. However, I don’t have an extra 50 bucks to spend on this and I probably wouldn’t really use anything that was in it, except the book, at least for this box. But I’m glad you have so much fun with these boxes!
    Kay @ It’s a Book Life recently posted…Review: Attachments by: Rainbow RowellMy Profile

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