The Best Book Subscription Box


Busy lives and social media often distract us from reading. But a monthly book box subscription can help entice you back to a good book. We tested 10 book box subscriptions, and we think that the best one for you depends on your preferences. If you want a box that’s tricked out with fun trinkets, edible treats and Instagrammable packaging, Once Upon a Book Club is the best book subscription box for you. If you want something that’s streamlined and high quality, we recommend Coffee and a Classic.

Our Top Choices

Best Experience


Once Upon a Book Club

See Price at CrateJoy

Classic Pick


Coffee and a Classic

See Price at CrateJoy

Busy lives and social media often distract us from reading. But a monthly book box subscription can help entice you back to a good book. We tested 10 book box subscriptions, and we think that the best one for you depends on your preferences. If you want a box that’s tricked out with fun trinkets, edible treats and Instagrammable packaging, Once Upon a Book Club is the best book subscription box for you. If you want something that’s streamlined and high quality, we recommend Coffee and a Classic.

How we selected book boxes to test

We chose to test the most popular book box subscriptions across a variety of types and genres, which we found by selecting the boxes with the highest number of reviews and scores on Cratejoy. We tested at least two boxes from every subscription and checked for shipping or quality issues. For those that came with extras, such as coffee or bath goods, we considered their quality in rating each box. We also took into account late deliveries or poor customer service.

How you should select a box to purchase

Although some boxes are higher quality than others, most of your selection will come down to personal taste. We suggest looking at the Instagram hashtags for the box you’re interested in to see what it’s like.

You should note that most of the subscriptions lack a corporate finesse; the delivery dates can be unreliable, and nothing feels systematized. (That said, this is less true of our winning boxes, Once Upon a Book Club and Coffee and a Classic.)

You should also note that most subscriptions auto-renew, so keep an eye on your bank statement.

We suggest that you check out the CrateJoy page for your book box of interest to learn about subscription options and prices, as these can fluctuate.

1

Once Upon a Book Club

See Price at CrateJoy

The Once Upon a Book Club box is the most twee of the boxes we selected. Luckily, its outward appearance belied its contents. Most of the included “gifts” were surprisingly adult: a painterly portrait, a small macrame wall hanging, a colorful headscarf and fringed hoop earrings — the type you wear for a few hours before the cheap metal hurts your ears — and a tiny “photo” of one of the book’s characters.

Each gift was trendily packaged in gingham bows, floral print boxes and polka dot paper to keep the contents hidden. The reader is instructed to open each gift, which is labeled with a page number, when they reach the appropriate spot in the book — a fun touch, especially for the younger crowd.Read more…

For a company that’s clearly got an ear to the ground for trends, it’s not surprising that Once Upon included a brand new book. In fact, the day we’re writing this article — a couple weeks after receiving the book box — is the official publication date for the included book: “Clover Blue.” So far, the book has earned an impressive rating on Goodreads.

The Once Upon a Book Club box was the second most expensive subscription we tested. That said, the hardcover books and included gifts, which would sell for much more at retail, are a real value.

The box arrived in a timely manner, as far as book boxes go, (one to two weeks is typical, rather than days), and was fully in-tact. The packaging makes it fun to open, and its robust online presence — a bubbly Instagram account and an eponymous hashtag with over 3,500 entries — ensures that buying this box is an all-inclusive experience.

The one thing we find strange about this box: For all of it’s youthful cuteness, the company doesn’t offer a box for little kids.


2

Coffee and a Classic

See Price at CrateJoy

The Coffee and a Classic box was the most expensive subscription we tested, but it impressed us with the quality, presentation and branding of its products, which were all attractively packaged in a black photo box.

We tested their most pricey subscription, but those who don’t want to spend so much can get the less-robust starter box for around $10 less. In ours, we received “Seabiscuit” by Laura Hillenbrand, along with a themed mug, wooden sign, candle and bookmark. The gourmet goodies in our box were small containers of themed popcorn and ground coffee, which we enjoyed while reading both early in the morning and by our favorite book light.Read more…

This subscription’s main focus is classic fiction, nonfiction and children’s classics, one of which you can choose when ordering. You can also specify whether you would like coffee, tea, hot chocolate or a surprise included in every box.

What are the downsides to this box? Other than the higher price and a long shipping time, we can’t find any.


3

Scribblr

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The Scribblr box is marketed as being “created for novelists, by bestselling authors.” It’s also one of the most beautiful boxes we received. Modeled after the rainbow, mixed-media-inspired cover of Alyson Richman’s “The Secret of Clouds,” the included stationary and sticker looked like works of art. The box is jam-packed with other writerly goodies, such as a pamphlet with an “inside look at the publishing process,” Richman’s tips on writing contemporary fiction, Gail Carson Levine’s book on writing, a high-quality enamel pin, stationary, and lemon drop candy. On their own, these items wouldn’t be worth much, but Scribblr did a nice job of theming and combining them in a way that feels premium and exciting.

The Scribblr box isn’t intended for professional novelists, so we don’t encourage buying it with the hopes of materializing a career. However, it would make a great gift for inspiring younger writer-wannabes, like middle- or high-school students, to develop their craft.Read more…


4

Bubbles & Books

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The Bubbles and Books’ bubblegum-pink box was full to the brim with artificially peach-scented, funfetti-flecked, flower-shaped soaps, bath bombs and candles to enjoy while reading its two included novels: “Colorado Cowboy” by Sara Richardson and “Deadly Obsession” by April Hunt. You’re either the type of person who enjoys pulpy romance novels and sweet-smelling soaps, or you’re not. So all we can really judge is the quality of the bath products. Our box came with mixed berry bath bomb dust, “sunshine and daisies” bubble bath, a peach scented votive candle and more.

You should note that the included bath goodies are not the austerely-labeled, clean beauty products currently dominating the self-care market. They’re more reminiscent of something you’d buy at a crafts fair. Some products have sulfates and a list of hard-to-pronounce chemicals, others seem a little more natural. Collectively, they smell exactly like those flavored gummy rings from your youth.Read more…

At less than $30, you get your money’s worth with this box, especially if you are a devotee of romance novels. If romance novels aren’t your thing, Bubbles & Books also offers a mystery and thriller option, from which you can also select paranormal and historical fiction.


5

Used Books Monthly

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The Used Books Monthly box comes with no frills or gifts in its plain white package: You get four books for 15 bucks. We wanted to see if we could find the same books cheaper, so we researched their costs onThriftBooks.com, a popular used-book retailer. Taking the shipping and handling costs into account on Thrift Books, it turned out that Used Books Monthly saved us several dollars.

Used Books Monthly lets you choose from a wide range of interests, ranging from self-help and romance to religion and paranormal. You can choose either a one, two or four book monthly delivery, then they “randomly select” books of that genre to send you.Read more…

We received the package promptly, and the books were in good condition, but they were not current. The newest was published 11 years ago, and the oldest was published 25 years ago. While this may not matter for some genres, it renders the science-oriented books less reliable. These books are also not likely titles you’ve heard of, and we got a good laugh out of some of the older covers.

So, who is this box right for? Readers who can walk down the aisles of a used book store, pluck any book off the shelf, and find value in it. If you’re looking for a subscription to books you’ve heard of, let alone ones your peers are currently reading, this isn’t the service for you.


6

Blue Spider Books & Wax

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Blue Spider is the intermediary between purist boxes like BookCase.Club and those overflowing with treats like Once Upon a Book Club. It includes a book and a couple of well-made goodies: Typically something drinkable and something scented. We thought the Toad Hall (of “Wind in the Willows” fame) scented spray and celestial-themed candle melts we received in the book boxes were both charming. The one downside to this subscription is that Blue Spider Books chooses the book for you. So if you don’t like the month’s selection, you’re out of luck.


7

Bookish Box

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[Editor’s note: Bookish is currently on hiatus, but we’ll post a link when they’re back.]

The Bookish Box offers monthly themed books and gifts for adults and young adults. Also included are two or three Tarot cards and a bookmark inspired by the themes and characters of the selected book. The included gifts (soft graphic t-shirts and trendy air plants) were some of our favorites.Read more…

Although it was one of the best boxes we received, Bookish has major problems with delivery times. Comments on Bookish’s CrateJoy account reveal that many people didn’t receive their boxes, so when ours didn’t arrive, we contacted the Bookish team. They replied that our box was late due to internal office issues. (This is something we think they should have communicated to all of their customers.) We eventually received our boxes, but much later than had been promised. If you’re willing to deal with inconsistent wait times, though, this could be the best box for your money.


8

My Thrill Club

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The My Thrill Club subscription is simple: one box, two new hardcover thrillers or mysteries, some red tissue paper and a blood-splatter motif. Also included with the subscription is an ebook. Most of the books we received in our boxes (like “Blue Light Yokohama“) had good but not great ratings on Goodreads. My Thrill Club stood out most for its prompt delivery time. It was one of the first boxes we received each month. If you enjoy this genre and just want books delivered promptly each month, this subscription could be for you.


9

BookCase.Club

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BookCase.Club is another subscription for reading purists who don’t care about themed gifts. Each box contains two books selected from the genres (mostly romance, thrillers and sci-fi) you’ve chosen. We received the niche mystery, “Kappy King and the Puppy Kaper” and trendy fashion-industry satire, “I’ll Eat When I’m Dead.” The books are publishers’ overstock titles, and for less than $10 a month, it’s a good value.


10

Unplugged

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The Unplugged box was our biggest disappointment. The most apt word we can use to describe it is “cheap” — not in price, but in quality. The box we received included a flimsy coaster and bookmark, a glittery gel candle (the kind you would make at a kid’s craft event), cloying pink citrus body lotion with a halloween-colored label, a gratitude journal prompt and sweet peach tea. We were also confused about the theme of the box: Though the stated theme was Pride, there was also a dragon motif going on. The book included, “Red, White & Royal Blue,” is a popular one, but that’s about the best we can say for this box.


Nicole Ahlering, Editor

Nicole is a Senior Content Specialist whose writing passion ranges from national recycling initiatives to how to find the perfect Christmas tree. She loves her dog more than most people, and she subsists almost entirely on iced coffee. When she’s not copy editing and researching for Your Best Digs, she’s usually curled up in bed with a good book or outside exploring nature.

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