As some of you may recall, several months ago I was wondering whether or not to buy into Book Riot's first subscription box. They hooked up with Quarterly Co., which is, as you can probably guess, a 'Quarterly' subscription service. So they release boxes every three months.
Book Riot is hella cool. If you're a book lover and haven't heard of them, I highly recommend following them on Facebook - it's fun to inject those things into your news feed! Their blog is also cool. I wasn't sure whether or not to buy into their box before the first one was released, but I was really really stressed at the time, and this box was supposed to show up mid-December - i.e. right after all my final papers were due. So I subscribed. The cost was $50 and free shipping within the States, but sadly I am from Canadiana, and so it cost me $70. And also managed to incur $10 of customs charges (which I totally don't understand). Yiiikes. (UPDATE: Quarterly has reimbursed me the $10 as it shouldn't have happened! How nice!!)
Well, there was a flood in a warehouse somewhere and it got delayed until late-December, which arrived on December 30th for me. After some angst with the post office, I finally have my box! A few people were curious before, so here is what I found inside, the general worth, and... yeah! It is beautiful!!
First, the box is always going to be built around a book. They chose Max Barry's Lexicon, which I had never heard of but am psyched to read.
Ah! It looks so cool! From the Book Riot description:
This book is smart. It's like X-Men meets The Magicians with a side of Nick Harkaway, and instead of super-powers, the heroes use words! It's about an exclusive, secret school where the students aren't taught reading, writing, and 'rithmetic but instead learn the art of persuasion. ... The students who excel at this linguistic coercion learn to manipulate others and control their thoughts using nothing but words. The best ones are recruited into a powerful off-the-grid government agency where they shed their identities and take on the names of famous poets.
WHAT? Yes please!! And on top of that, it comes with a handwritten note from the author introducing you to the book:
Further, there are around ten sticky-notes inside the book itself with notes from the author. These include jokes about someone who will probably sue him in the future, comments on what it was like writing that part, etc.:
I think this is the coolest thing ever. I hope I like the book, because this kind of personal touch will be unforgettable if I do.
The rest of the box had an excerpt from a book called Never Have I Ever by Katie Harvey, which was printed in a cool little faux 'composition book' - the book doesn't come out til February, so that's neat! There is also a 2014 Desk Calendar for book lovers, awesome pencils for book lovers, and a notebook with an e.e. cummings quote on the front that is intended for words that I find as powerful as those in Lexicon. (Nice touch, Book Riot!) Oh, and a poster for a book that is Star Wars written in Shakespearian language. What! Cool! (Also, posters for books?!)
The book alone is worth $28.50 (Canadian, before tax) retail. The booklet is apparently called a 'pocket journal' (they have some really neat ones on the website) and is sold online for $6.55 before tax, but you would definitely have to pay shipping on an order that small. The pencils are from Paper Pastries and retail for $8. You can find the calendar on sale for $11.67 on Amazon. The book excerpt doesn't have a dollar value, since you can't purchase it anywhere, and ditto on the poster (I think that was free from a publisher anyways, though). So, if you're looking at strictly dollar value and we're pretending shipping would be free, this $50 subscription box would cost you $54.72 before tax to reproduce some of the things, plus the value you associate to the book excerpt, poster, and notes from Max Barry.
Considering the above, and the fact that they seem to have procured at least a few of these items from small independent made-in-the-USA companies, I think this is definitely worth the $50. Is it worth $80 with shipping and customs? For me, only if I fall wildly in love with this book and author. The dollar value of the things in here won't make that worth it, but the sentimental/fangirl value would.
It feels irresponsible to keep getting this box, sadly, grrrr. I am going to investigate this customs thing (it is checked off as a 'gift' on the form, and Book Riot only claims the value as $20, so I have no idea how/why I got charged $10 in customs from the States). But! If you are in the States, and love books, or if you live elsewhere but think this is a fair price, I highly recommend. This was a really fun experience to open, they clearly have put a lot of work into it, and it is really neat to receive author touches that no one else (outside of the subscription people) will ever get! (Update: For $70 I am so doing this again for Box 2, as the $10 customs fee wasn't supposed to happen and Quarterly will reimburse me again if it does.)
Oh, and my cat loves the box and packing material. She is going nuts right now.
What do you think?