Other Media Review

Book Riot Subscription Box: A Review


Title: Book Riot Quarterly Box
Written By: Book Riot
Publication Info: Quarterly Co. Quarterly
Genre: Nonfiction

Subscription boxes are taking over the world, or at least my Facebook newsfeed. You want beauty samples every month? There’s a box for that. Healthy snacks? There’s a box for that too. Adult products? Check. Feminine hygiene products and chocolate? You got it.

And for us readers, books have thrown their hat into the ring.

This particular service is brought to you by Book Riot through Quarterly. I adore BookRiot. I get all my bookish news from them and every week, they post my favorite thing in the whole wide world: Book Fetish. I wish I could say it’s as scandalous as it sounds, but it’s just a list of book-themed gifts from around the internet. At this point, I have a Pinterest board dedicated to things I find from Book Fetish.

Now Quarterly is a bit different. Instead of just one subscription box, they have many. Each box has its own “curator.” You can get boxes crafted from athletes, musicians, foodies, style experts, you name it. Most start at $50 and are shipped every three months.

When Book Riot first announced their intention to do a subscription box last fall, I was excited, though I wasn’t too sold on the $50 price tag. There was a guarantee that the items selected for the box would retail for more than the cost of the box, so I opted to try the first one.

It was meant to ship on December 3rd. That’s when the problems began.

The ship date was pushed back by a week and a half after that because a tornado destroyed a warehouse. I’m completely fine with that. I’m not about to get into it with devastating acts of weather and I can be patient. When the box was meant to ship for the second time, I assumed everything was fine, until a week goes by and I get an error about my order. Dealing with customer service was a bit of a nightmare. A tracking number was supposed to be emailed to me by the end of the day. Nothing. Your box should ship out this week. Nothing.

A month went by before I sent them an email in frustration, asking to just cancel it, to which I received a reply that my box should be arriving at my doorstep that day.


Other people had gotten their boxes already and I’d been avoiding social media like the plague to keep from spoiling it for myself. I’ll be honest, I did go into its unveiling with a big chip on my shoulder, though I know none of it was Book Riot’s doing. They just pick the stuff that goes out. I can assure you that by the end of tearing through the box, I had a smile on my face.

The contents were:

  • The BookRiot box opened showing all itemsA book
  • A note
  • A desk calendar
  • A small notebook
  • Pencils
  • An excerpt from an upcoming book
  • A poster


Each Book Riot box will have at least one book and oh, what a beautiful book this was, in all its hardcover glory.

Book Lexicon - Max Barry The Book

Lexicon by Max Barry sounds promising and I’m honestly looking forward to reading it.

“At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren't taught history, geography, or mathematics–at least not in the usual ways. Instead, they are taught to persuade. Here the art of coercion has been raised to a science. Students harness the hidden power of language to manipulate the mind and learn to break down individuals by psychographic markers in order to take control of their thoughts. The very best will graduate as “poets”, adept wielders of language who belong to a nameless organization that is as influential as it is secretive.”

One word. Badass.

The box comes with a note from Barry. He wrote it by hand and then it was copied, so if you’re hoping to hock it on Ebay for its signature, you’re not going to have much luck. Inside the book, are also handwritten notes regarding particular scenes. Apparently he wrote over thirty of them and BookRiot couldn’t include them all in the box, but they can be accessed online with a code you’re given.

The Desk Calendar

The 2014 Book Lover’s Calendar is one of the tear away, daily calendars. Each date offers a book recommendation. I think it’s a great concept, but a lot of the recommendations are nonfiction or literary fiction. Plus, I’m awful at remember to change the date. The calendar does offer the option to get the daily updates online.

Notebook and Pencils

The notebook is cute. There’s even an adorable E.E. Cummings quote on the cover. I don’t own a pencil sharpener, so the pencils will most likely remain tucked away in my desk drawer until they disappear into the ether one day.

The Excerpt

It’s from a book called Never Have I Ever by Katie Heaney. The book came out on January 14th. In theory, I was supposed to get this before the book came out, but with all the communication issues, I got it after it came out. I even read an excerpt from the book on BuzzFeed.

It’s a decently sized excerpt, 40-ish pages, and it’s pretty hilarious. And I did wind up adding the book to my TBR list on GoodReads, so it served its function pretty well.

The Poster

Aside from the book, this may be my favorite thing in the box. It’s a poster of this cover. Star Wars is a staple in my household. To this day, my crowning achievement is finally beating my brother in Star Wars Trivial Pursuit. However, there is a catch. This poster is one of two, randomly selected for each box. The other option is the cover to The Geek’s Guide to Dating. And, while I would have been happy with either one, I know I would have felt the slightest pinch of disappointment had I not received the Star Wars poster.

Also, excuse the backdrop of my flannel sheets.

Overall, opening the box and sifting through its contents dispelled whatever negative feelings I had with the shoddy customer service, and this review is strictly based on the contents.

I’m still subscribed for the next box, which comes out in March, so I’m hoping the problems with shipping were just a fluke because of it being Book Riot’s first box. I do believe Book Riot held up their guarantee of the contents being worth more than the cost of the box. Some of the items were a little underwhelming, though I think the book selection and notes from the author make up for it.

You can find out more about Book Riot's quarterly book subscription on the Quarterly site

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    Huh, this is kinda interesting. I’m more of an ebook girl, so I’m not sure I’d get much use out of it. I don’t read more than one book at a time, and I get irritated if I start a book but then I don’t have it with me to read while waiting in line at the post office. :-P

    I’m not sure I’d get much out of the desk calendar and the notebook, either, but the pencils would be put to good use. My Kindergartener seems to think his mission in life is to press so hard that he snaps the tip of his pencil every time we do his homework.

    My husband just showed me that “Scribd” is trying to be the Netflix of Ebooks. Have you (or anyone) tried it yet? Any thoughts?

  2. 2
    SB Sarah says:

    I haven’t tried Scribd, but speaking solely for myself here, it would take a lot to get me to try a book subscription service.

    When there’s a subscription service for movies or tv, for example, those are things I can consume passively. I can watch a random movie while folding laundry. I can sort of half-watch things, so a subscription service like Netflix is cool for that.

    But with books, that wouldn’t work for me because I don’t passively surf for books or passively consume them while doing other things. Plus, with a subscription service for televised media, other people in my house use the subscription to watch what they want. I don’t see anyone else in the house getting use out of a book subscription other than me. And, if I’m not 100% sold on the content within the subscription, I’m not likely to join in. I’m mildly curious, though at this point, it’s not likely to make me and my mental prairie dog sit up and pat attention.

  3. 3
    azteclady says:

    I’m sorry, but $50 for a book subscription where I get one book? I am one of those people who don’t particularly care for swag—the book is what matters. So, in my eyes, I would end up paying $50 bucks every three months and getting one book that I didn’t even chose myself.

    Absolutely not worth it, as far as I’m concerned.

  4. 4
    DonnaMarie says:

    Star Wars retold as a Shakespearian play. MUST HAVE THIS!

  5. 5
    Lostshadows says:

    @DonnaMarie its a amusing idea, but I found the end result a little underwhelming. I’d suggest waiting for it in paperback. /$0.02

    They’re also releasing The Empire Striketh Back in March. (It’s one of this month’s LibraryThing Early Reviewer books.)

  6. 6
    Dread Pirate Rachel says:

    I’m with azteclady. $50 seems like a lot for one book. I mean, I get that there are other things included, but when I read “book subscription service,” I expected it to be, you know, books.

  7. 7
    Amanda says:

    I do agree that if you’re just after the book aspect, then this isn’t for you. However, the way the subscription is phrased, Book Riot promises “at least one book.” I also happen to have a weakness for bookish gifts, so I’m always curious as to what’s out there. I know a lot of people use subscription sets as gifts, as in they gift one of the items in the box to a friend or relative.

    I’m going to see how the second one is and then go from there on whether or not I want to keep it.

    @Brigid: There are services like Scribd and Oyster, but I’m with Sarah. Besides, going to a library is much cheaper, especially if you live in an area with a decent circulation.

  8. 8
    Andrea says:

    Do you know why I read this review? Because it was written by Amanda. I was not disappointed.

  9. 9

    That’s a really interesting perspective on Netflix vs. books. Now that I’m thinking about it, I agree. I even have Amazon Prime, but I don’t think I’ve ever used the “free book a month” feature either. I go looking for a book I want to buy (based on recommendations, etc.) and then I buy it.

    The one subscription we’ve signed up for that I LOVE is Kindle FreeTime. I love that my 6-year-old gets a pretty good selection of books and apps that change rather frequently. Some of the best words in the world are, “Mom, can I read some books on your Kindle?”

  10. 10
    SB Sarah says:

    @Andrea: That’s an excellent reason to read it! She’s awesome.

    @Brigid: I LOVE the Free Time app, especially for my 6 year old. He doesn’t like the organization of it (“Mommy, I want to watch those in order. Where is the list of them in order?”) but he likes that all of those things are for him. Plus, the book selection is pretty freaking awesome – especially this month for our school Read-a-Thon.

  11. 11
    Nora says:

    I’m glad I didn’t sign up for this quarterly box when I first heard about it a few months ago, because I already own that book and that poster and that calendar. $50 well saved.

  12. 12
    Amanda says:

    @Nora: Have you read the book yet? I’m curious whether or not you think it was a good selection for their first box. Obviously, you’d want to pick something pretty awesome.

  13. 13
    Nora says:

    @Amanda, I read it a few months ago. I liked it, and I think it’s a good choice for this type of box. It’s a little bit science-fiction-y, but not too far out there. Plus it appeals to people who like language, which probably overlaps a lot with people who would be willing to buy a box like this.

  14. 14
    Amanda says:

    @Nora: Well that makes me feel a little bit better. Book Riot has been dropping hints about the second box and the book included sounds like it’s going to be a book on writing and/or reading.

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