Lately, I’ve been a little obsessed with subscription boxes. We’ve fallen in love with Blue Apron, our weekly meal subscription box that has pretty much eliminated the tedious trips to the grocery store for us, and that led me to look into what other kinds of subscriptions I could find. Loving YA Lit as much as I do, that was the first thing I searched for – and the list of available subscription boxes is pretty extensive. What I discovered though, was that there are two YA subscription services that tend to stand out among the rest. Those two are Uppercase and OwlCrate.
After spending several minutes researching, browsing pictures of the contents of past boxes, and reading a handful of reviews, I still couldn’t make up my mind which I would like better. So, I joined the waitlist for OwlCrate and signed up (no waitlist!) for my first Uppercase box. I didn’t last long on the OwlCrate waitlist though, three days later, a spot was open and I signed up – ready to test both November boxes.
FYI: When it comes to billing, you will be charged immediately for your first box whether it’s OwlCrate or Uppercase, and then your next billing cycle begins on the 1st if you choose to renew monthly. Uppercase ships out around the 15th, and OwlCrate ships around the 20th (EDIT: OwlCrate has announced that, as of December, they will begin shipping around the 14th instead).
I received Uppercase first, so I’ll start my review there.
Cost: $23/month + $6 S/H (Expert Plan. There are also Book Exclusive and Personalized plans available)
What You Should Expect to Receive:
- Brand New, Hardcover Young Adult Book
- Signed Book or Bookplate Signed by the Author
- 1-2 High-Quality, Exclusive Bookish Items
- Reading Experience with Exclusive Content
- Personal Hand-Written Note to You
I was a little confused when my “box” first arrived, because it doesn’t come in a box at all. It came in a bubble mailer. Inside the mailer though, it is all neatly packaged inside a small fabric bag printed with the Uppercase logo (center of the above photo). I wasn’t disappointed, as the box isn’t really what this is about, it’s the quality of the content that counts.
What I Received in November’s Uppercase Box:
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Bookplate signed by Ryan Graudin
Wolf by Wolf pin and book cover poster card
Oscar Wilde quote print by Risa Rodil (Uppercase exclusive)
Certified Book Addict keychain by PeachyApricot (Uppercase exclusive)
There’s a printed sheet that details the items that were included in this month’s box and has a handwritten note from Lisa Parkin. Also on this sheet, they describe how to fully enjoy the extra content included with your Uppercase reading experience. Throughout the book, there are post-its that have special code words. Following the provided link and entering the code word when you reach each section of the book opens up access to extra content exclusive to Uppercase subscribers, such as author interviews or detailed background information about what’s happening in the scene or chapter. This is something that I absolutely LOVED. If you read my review I posted of Wolf by Wolf, you’d know that I wasn’t originally thrilled with the idea of an alternate history story, but that this book took me by surprise in a very good way! The post-its provided by Uppercase drove me forward, racing to see what the next bit of extra content would be, so I finished the book in one sitting in under six hours. Funny how much motivation a little post-it can be!
I have a nice little collection started of signed books, so the bookplate was a nice addition. Wolf by Wolf pin is cute, but not really sure where I’d put it. I’m well past the age where I thought covering my jacket/bookbag/everything with buttons was cool. Still a nice addition though. The quote print is beautiful! It can find a nice home on my bookshelves. Love the keychain as well! I will note that as I browsed Instagram after receiving my box, I did find that quite a few people mentioned the keychain arriving broken. I say this only to add that on all of the posts that I saw, Uppercase personally commented to provide a solution and replace the broken keychains. Exemplary customer service!
You’d have to estimate the purchase price of the print and the keychain, but I can confidently say that I definitely got my money’s worth out of this box. The reading experience is engaging, and even after you’ve finished the book, there’s also an Uppercase exclusive Book Club on Goodreads that you can join to share your thoughts. Having goodies related specifically to the book such as the poster card and the pin wouldn’t be as neat if I hadn’t enjoyed the book, but since I did, they’re a bonus. I enjoy Uppercase’s attention to detail, and I really like the fact that they take the time to handwrite each subscriber a note. It makes me miss the days of people actually writing and mailing each other letters!
Cost: $29.99/month + $6.99 S/H (Also offers a 3-month prepay plan and a 6-month prepay plan)
What You Should Expect to Receive:
* A highly anticipated new YA release.
* 3-5 other bookish goodies (jewelry, totes, yummy treats, pins, etc).
* Exclusive items from publishers and authors.
* A note telling you more about the novel and the items included in your crate.
I was so excited for OwlCrate to arrive, especially when they hinted that an item from Geeky Cauldron would be included. I tend to drool over GC jewelry. So, I anxiously tracked my package. This was how I actually found out that it had arrived:
Postcard explaining the selections for this month’s box
Overall, OwlCrate is probably the way to go if you’re more about the bookish goodies than the actual book. I haven’t got around to reading Soundless just yet (ugh! Finals week!), but the story does look interesting. Check out its summary on Goodreads. I guess the box does lack that sense of getting to know the author and book better, and I found myself a little disappointed that there was nothing about Richelle Mead other than tattoos for her other series, which in no way relates to Soundless. A bookplate or signed book would really be a nice touch here and really put this box over the top.
The bookish goodies are definitely a plus. I loved the fairytale tea because by some crazy chance, I actually got my favorite character – Snow White. I spent quite a bit of time in undergrad preparing a paper comparing Snow White to Eve in the Garden of Eden that was presented at the Sigma Tau Delta National English Honors Society conference in my senior year. This tea actually had a hint of apple, and it was delicious! Of course, I also loved the Geeky Cauldron necklace, and it’s definitely a hard choice between that or the tea for my favorite feature of the box. The mermaid pocket mirror is quite pretty, but when it comes right down to it, I’m not really going to be likely to use it, the tattoos, or the rubber bracelet. It might be something younger fans would enjoy, but it wasn’t a major sticking point for me.
THE FINAL SHOWDOWN
With OwlCrate, the price seems fair for all that you get especially if you’re really into all of the great goodies, but when I consider things that I will actually use in the box compared to the price I paid, I feel a little under impressed. HOWEVER, I did enjoy the box enough to give it another shot so that I can see what the December box is like.
For me though, I enjoyed the Uppercase experience better this month. I was more drawn into the interactive reading experience with bonus content, and I really love that they take the time to include either a signed book or bookplate with each box. This box is definitely less about the bookish goodies than OwlCrate, so you’ll have to figure out your own preference there, but to me the reading experience made up for it since these subscriptions were more about exposure to new YA books rather than extra goodies to me.
So, for December, it looks like I’ll be trying out both boxes again before I make a final decision about which one to continue subscribing to. Do you subscribe to any bookish boxes? Which ones do you like best? Leave me a comment to let me know!