4 Best Book Subscription Boxes

4 Best Book Subscription Boxes

As a reader, and someone possibly too involved in the internet book community, it seems like everyone has a book subscription. This service usually involved paying once a month or every few months for a book and possibly some book-ish goodies. These goodies consist of snacks, bookmarks, bookplates, socks, and maybe more. While there are lots of great ones like Book of the Month and Illumicrate for people who want just-dropped books and collectibles, there are many more (a few overlooked) that provide unique services and experiences.

Here are four of the best (and most interesting) book services out there for any reader. This includes audiobooks, ebooks, and interactive mysteries! Please note that I didn’t include shipping for each of these, and most have an option that if you pay for a longer plan, there’s a discount—even if I don’t mention it for every one.

Feminist Book Club logo. Image: Feminist Book Club.
(Feminist Book Club)

I think it’s pretty clear from the title what this book box is all about. This is a monthly subscription (with options to be billed quarterly) with three different tiers that help you balance affordability and clutter. There’s a digital-only tier ($12), book only-tier ($30), and a box tier with all the goodies ($55). The goodies all come from small, woman-owned businesses. This club can be something you do passively – like “just” reading the book, but there are also community activities where you vote on upcoming books and participate in Zoom and author chats.

Several popular services (not on this list) have been called out, and later addressed, the issue of a lack of diversity in authors and their influencer network—however, this is not one of those boxes. They’ve been doing it great the whole time. The Feminist Book Club also donates 5% of each sale to a social justice-oriented organization each month.

For Kids

This list is aimed towards readers 16+, however, if you want a feminist book club subscription for a little reader see the Little Feminist book club. They are not affiliated with the Feminist Book Club, but they have books for ages 0-9.

Call Number Box

Call Number Box logo that says (PN 841). Image: Call Number Box.
(Call Number Box)

Founded by a former librarian, Call Number is a book box highlighting contemporary written works from across the African Diaspora. The “PN 841” is the call number (location of the book in a library and usually found on the spine) for Black literature. Many libraries are doing away with the Dewey Decimal System, but this is a fitting call back. This subscription service offers four options and releases the boxes quarterly: fiction, nonfiction, indie, and YA. Last quarter (in their non-fiction subscription) they highlighted one of my favorite books of last year, Care Free Black Girls: A Celebration of Black Women in Popular Culture by Zeba Blay. You can check out some of their past boxes here.

Used Books Monthly logo with a stack of books. Image: Used Books Monthly,
(Used Books Monthly)

Subscription boxes are expensive, and book ones can be even more expensive. This option is better on the wallet and (in theory) better for the environment because these gently-used books get a new life in a new library. Essentially, you select your favorite genres, and they send you a random book every month. The genres include mystery, action/adventure, general fiction, romance, and general non-fiction. While there are various ways of paying (monthly, quarterly, bi-annually, or yearly), the tiers are broken up by how many books you wish to receive. You can purchase one ($5.49), two ($9.99), or four ($16.99) books a month.

The cute delivery pigeon from TBR. Image: TBR.

Let me start with this pigeon above, which is NOT their logo, however, it is on the explainer page, and that’s the main con of this service. It’s only going up from here. TBR (to-be-read) is a subscription service in which you give some information on your reading habits, and then one of their bibliologists (a.k.a. book experts) selects three titles for you. It’s basically a consulting service, but you can upgrade to receive physical books, too. The most affordable option goes for $16 per quarter (just for recommendations) and the most expensive costs $80 per quarter (and you receive all hardcovers.) Regardless of what you pick, all options come with a personalized letter.

Just like an actual therapist, these book recommenders and you might not be vibing. In which case, you can let TBR know, and they’ll reassign you. It’s your money, but I’d give it two rounds before you switch. Just give feedback so they can adjust. Make sure to link your Storygraph or Goodreads, so they don’t pick a book you’ve already read. Many, if not all, the bibliogists have written for Bookriot (a gem and also owned by Riot Media), which prioritizes books written by underrepresented authors.

(Hunt A Killer)

Okay, so technically, this is not a book subscription, but it required a lot of reading (and rereading), plus even a set marked “easy” takes 1-2 hours, so it’s like a short story. It’s also perfect if you are really into murder mysteries or detective stories. Basically, this subscription sends you a box with a bunch of items considered “the evidence,” and you have to find the murderer and their motivation. You can choose a month-to-month plan ($40) or play them in seasons (by paying quarterly, bi-yearly, or yearly for a discount). With the seasons each month, you are sent an episode of the story. Regardless of how you play, a full season is six months.

As the most expensive option on this list, if you want to try it first before signing up. I picked up a single copy of Death At The Dive Bar at Target two years ago. This is great as a solo experience or for a very small group. If you want more games, the subscription is the way to go, since I’ve only seen 2-3 episodes ever in stores or online.

(featured image: Alyssa Shotwell)

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