2017 seemed to be the year of the subscription box, especially for the bookish world. At least, that’s what Instagram would have you believe. It seemed a new box turned up every month, at least — and while I was certainly tempted by themes or teasers, I resisted all year (more on why at the bottom of this post) …
Until Unicorn Crate announced their one-time box for The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman, which would be filled with merchandise for my all-time favorite series, His Dark Materials. (Which is also a series that is very difficult to find merch for!) I waffled for a LONG time … but ultimately caved, and I’m so glad I did.
Here’s a look at what was included in the box, and my thoughts on it:
Here’s what was included in the box:
- A copy of The Book of Dust
- His Dark Materials bookmark
- Lyra + Iorek magnetic bookmark (Beedoo)
- Aurora Borealis journal
- Borealis candle (Illuminati Waxworks)
- Alethiometer pin (Hannah Hitchman art)
- The Golden Compass art print (Hannah Hitchman art)
- Set of three unicorn pencils
- Spyglass necklace
What I Liked:
I loved getting a box filled with merch for my favorite series, which is — as I noted above — hard to find. The box included a few items that I’d previously been looking at online (the magnetic bookmark, as well as the pin and print from Hannah Hitchman art). I’m glad I hadn’t bought them already, or else I’d have ended up with duplicate items.
The candle smells amazing, and was the first one I ever received that was inspired by the His Dark Materials series, and it was from a shop that I hadn’t had a chance to try yet. (More on my bookish candle obsession in a later blog post, friends.)
The regular paper bookmark and the spyglass necklace created by Unicorn Crate are some of my favorites, and can’t be found anywhere else, so those were extra special to receive in this box.
What I Disliked:
I can’t say I “disliked” anything about this box, per se. The only item that was less-than-exciting was the set of pencils, since they had nothing to do with His Dark Materials. Unicorn Crate promises to include one unicorn item in each box, so I get that this was fulfilling their promise — and they’re cute pencils; I’ll certainly use them — but pencils that fit the theme of the box would have been more exciting to receive.
I also wish there had been an option to purchase a “no book” box. I had already pre-ordered a signed copy of this book from my local bookseller, which I could pick up and begin reading on release day. I didn’t want to wait for my box to arrive to start reading The Book of Dust, and I certainly didn’t want to give up my signed copy. (The copy that came with the box was not signed.) I ended up gifting the copy that came with my box to my brother for Christmas, so it worked out, but it would have been nice to have a book-less box option.
My Thoughts on Subscription Boxes (in general)
In general, I’ve resisted buying subscription boxes for so long because of two main reasons …
1) I like knowing what I’m getting. It’s not so much that I don’t like surprises, but if I’m spending money on something, I want to know what I’m paying for up front.
I feel especially strongly about this with regards to boxes that include a book, and you don’t know what book you’re getting ahead of time. I already receive plenty of books from publishers for review and blog features, and if there are other books I want to read, I will buy them for myself (or borrow them from a friend or the library).
So basically – if I’m going to spend money on a book, I want to know what it is up front.
2) While it’s fun to open a box filled with goodies, after that initial fun you’re left with … just stuff. And I have been working very hard the last couple of years on getting rid of extra “stuff” that just takes up space in my home and clutters things up.
And much like my feelings on the books, if there is a piece of merch that I do really want, I’ll buy it for myself.
In all, I was very pleased with my purchase from Unicorn Crate. They curated a wonderful box for my favorite series, and it was really fun to open and enjoy each piece. That said, most of their regular boxes are part of the “mystery book” model, so I’m unlikely to purchase again unless it is another one-time box for a theme that speaks particularly strongly to my interests.
But if you’re okay being surprised, then I recommend giving Unicorn Crate a try. They seem to always curate really nice, quality materials for each box, and pick exciting new fantasy releases.