The Future of Book Boxes: My Predictions and Wish List

Book subscription boxes have been around for years at this point. It’s been great seeing the growth from small boxes with a few small handmade items from very small shops to the collaborations with publishers, authors, & artists to create some stunning specials editions.

Related: Directory of Book Boxes

Now the question is where do book boxes go from here? I have no insider knowledge of the companies but I’ve been a purchaser & observer for years. I’m using my ‘knowledge’ to predict what trends we might see in 2021 and beyond as well as sharing my wish list of what I would like to see.

Predictions

More Boxes Offering Slimmed Down Options

Many of the bigger boxes (Fairyloot, Illumicrate, Owlcrate) have the coolest editions. Many people subscribe just for the books (exclusive cover, signed, reversible dust jacket, sprayed edges, etc.) and sell off the items from the box they don’t enjoy.

The problem is more and more of the items in the boxes are being coming ‘junky’ and people try to sell them (with varying degrees of success). If the item is particularly ‘junky’, the market is flooded with it and no one can sell it because very few people are interested.

I predict that we’ll see more slimmed down boxes in the future. Signed, exclusive books with one or two special things (enamel pin? download codes for an ebook or eaudiobook?) at a slightly lower price point.

More Boxes Offering Quarterly Options

2020 was rough. Even if boxes planned ahead, they were burned this last year with the massive shipping & production delays.

There’s also the problem of having to make, design, & create unique items every. single. month. I’m not a creator but even I’m exhausted by that idea. Boxes get backed into a corner of creating/commissioning interesting (but not always useful/great) items or repeating items (but then get dinged for not being creative) or adding filler items that can easily be purchased on Amazon/Wish.

I predict more boxes will follow LitJoy Crate’s lead and offer boxes on quarterly basis instead of monthly. This move would allow them to pick truly great books (instead of just picking something because it’s within that 45 day window), create better quality items (a higher price tag would be expected for a quarterly box), focus on unique & new items (longer time to work on them & not having to crank out boxes every month), and possibly open more subscription slots.

My Wish List

These are things I personally love to see happen. I don’t know the business so I’m not sure how feasible they would be. A girl can dream though, right?

Specially Themed Boxes

One of the biggest problems with boxes is there’s NO way to please everyone. Not everyone loves art. Not everyone loves ‘home’ items. Not everyone loves candles or scented items.

I’d love to see more boxes intentionally create boxes that focus on certain types of products & are advertised that way.

  • Box with items that for your car (decals, air freshener, key chain, sunshade).
  • Box with items for the kitchen (spatula, apron, cutting board, dish towels).
  • Box with items for bathroom (shower curtain, hand towels, bath products).
  • Box with tech items (mousepad, screen cleaning cloth, large zippered sleeve etc.).

It would please those looking for a certain type of item. If you don’t have a need for a certain type of product, you know not to get the box. It’s a great compromise.

The boxes could be generic (sci-fi, fantasy, classic books, etc.) or continue to name drop fandoms in the advertisements/teasers.

Preorders Becoming The Standard

The Hunger Games was a fun read. It’s not fun to live through when trying to order a special edition of a book. Big boxes have been directly working with publishers lately to release special editions of older series. The fans love them! The books they select are obviously popular so tons of people want to buy them.

The boxes then only order a (seemingly) small number of books/sets. Then the sale emails go out in batches. Or the site crashes. Or they sell out in a handful of minutes. Or time zones are garbage and people have to set alarms for terrible times of night to get one. Or people are working at the jobs they need to be able to buy things when things go on sale. Fans are upset. Flippers always manage to their hands on them (and the books are promptly listed on eBay). It’s a lose/lose situation for everyone.

I think the bigger boxes really should offer these special editions/boxes as a preorder. Everyone who wants one has the time to order one. It slowly destroys the flippers (always a win in my book). The box doesn’t end up with egg on their face and rightfully angry fans.

Maybe offer signed book plates to everyone. Maybe also get some that are signed by the author and RANDOMLY send those to people who bought it? Make it a real surprise where no one knows which one they got until they unbox it and no one has an unfair advantage over other people.

There’s really no reason to not do it. These are bigger boxes that we’re talking about (Fairyloot, Owlcrate, Illumicrate). They should have enough capital to have them made/cover the costs (especially since they’re easily going to make all the money back.)

What are your predictions?
What’s on your wish list?

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18 thoughts on “The Future of Book Boxes: My Predictions and Wish List

  1. I would like clearly defined item months. Some crates already basically do this with a few select popular items (Illumicrate with mugs and LitJoy with tea cups before they switched to every YA box having them). But I’d like to see more of this and maybe *only* this, particularly in combination with slimmed down boxes. February, April, and June may be book sleeve months, January, March, and May could have enamel pins, so on and so forth.

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  2. I definitely love the preoders that some companies have been doing (like FairyLoot has done some now). I think that’s a fabulous change. It sucks they can only have so many signed copies, but also understandable. I think limiting the signed ones will still result in a decent rush though.

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  3. I like a lot of these ideas. I buy an OwlCrate occasionally, but I go off the hints to see if there’s a book I really want PLUS a major item I want PLUS fandoms for the other items that I care about. A lot of times…I don’t care enough to pay nearly $40 to get a box where I only want half the stuff in it. I know a lot of the boxes have wait lists and are sold out, so this may be a “me” problem, but I would also love to see more options in terns of just buying the book edition or being able to pick what kind of items you want in the box. I think once you get over the “ooh, cool book merchandise” or “ooh, it’s exclusive” aspect, you start to realize you don’t need 400 candles, or you don’t need 25 tapestries, or whatever. I do think the boxes TRY to mix up items, but I imagine people who have been subscribing for a while just have so.much.stuff.

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    • More freedom with the item would be great. I know Litjoy’s add on program works well for them. It be amazing if someone could offer the book only for X price and then have add ons for Y or a full box for Z.

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  4. Great post!! I actually see things changing for Fairyloot and Illumicrate, as delivery fees are higher now after Brexit. I am afraid this will take away a small portion of their audience and they may have to rethink about the items. They will still push for special box sets – which are getting ridiculously expensive.
    I agree with you, it’s getting difficult to please everyone. I wish there was more official merchandise, like Eye of Elena necklace from Throne of Glass… things actually from a book.

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      • Once Upon A Book Club does this with every box. It’s lovely. You get to a page and there is a post it not saying open your gift. Say the character is running out crying so she covers her eyes with cat eye sunglasses, you get a pair of sunnies and tissues as a gift.
        I love it! Sure sometimes its a cheap necklace but it will tie in well with the book. Theynare doing Bridgerton next. Their David Copperfield was amazing.
        Each month they do an Adult and a Young Adult. Then they do classics or Xmas etc.

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  5. I think some of these are great ideas! Slimmed down boxes make sense because fans get what they really want–a special edition book–and junky items they don’t want stay out of landfills. A price drop would be an extra bonus. I also like the idea of preorders. Why not try to see how much interest there is in an item and print special edition books accordingly, instead of creating a limited amount that will just frustrate people. Gauging interest ahead of time could lead to more sales, too, which is good for the companies.

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    • Gauging interest would be a smart way to go. I don’t mind the idea of preordering a few months ahead of time to give them time to work on it. The only downside is CC/paypal protection only lasts for so long so it a box takes too long to send items out, customers lose protection.

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