Owl Crate Boxes, Image Sophie Brown

Are OwlCrate/OwlCrate Junior Book Subscription Boxes Worth the Money?

Books Reviews

If you have spent any time watching BookTube or BookTok videos, or browsed on Bookstagram, you can’t have missed the rise in popularity of the book subscription box. These subscription services send books and book-themed items to your door every month and the number of services is rapidly growing. OwlCrate is one such service, and as the only one to also offer a kids box aimed at middle-grade readers, I was thrilled to take a look at their service.

What Is OwlCrate/OwlCrate Junior?

Both OwlCrate and OwlCrate Junior are monthly subscription box services. Each month you will receive a box in the mail containing a single book and a number of book-related items, usually on a theme. There are usually exclusive items from the author included too, such as signed bookplates, letters, and more. While you don’t get to choose your book or the items it comes with, the titles included are usually popular, recent releases.

What’s in a Box?

I received an OwlCrate box and an OwlCrate Junior box for review. OwlCrate boxes are aimed at YA and adult readers aged 14 and up, while OwlCrate Junior boxes are aimed at readers aged between eight and twelve. The bonus items will also reflect these age groups. Here is what I received in each of my boxes:

Owl Crate Adult, Image Sophie Brown
Owl Crate Adult, Image Sophie Brown

OwlCrate – Theme: “Love Is a Battlefield”

  • These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong (signed, exclusive OwlCrate Edition)
  • Reversible Dust Jacket Artwork (illustrated by @scarecrux)
  • An Ember in the Ashes-inspired 300 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle (illustrated by Tiara L’Hommedieu)
  • Serpent & Dove-inspired slouchy leg warmers (designed by @paperbackbones)
  • Of Fire and Stars inspired hand cream (Fiction Bath Co.)
  • The Wrath and the Dawn-inspired wooden ornament (Juniper & Ivy Designs)
  • Spinning Silver-inspired mini rolling pin (designed by Michelle Gray)
  • Exclusive OwlCrate “Violent Ends” Enamel Pin (designed by Iron & Ink Designs)
  • Exclusive These Violent Delights Author Letter
OwlCrate Jnr, Image Sophie Brown
OwlCrate Jnr, Image Sophie Brown

Owlcrate Junior – Theme: “Inner Magic”

  • Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B Alston (exclusive OwlCrate Jr edition)
  • The You Are Awesome Journal by Matthew Syed (from Sourcebooks)
  • Set of 20 Mini Gel Pens (designed by Michelle Gray)
  • Avatar-inspired Bubble Bar (created by Whipped Up Wonderful)
  • Leonora’s Magical Mischief Blend Tea (created by Riddle’s Tea Shoppe)
  • The Apprentice Witch-inspired Quote Print (designed by Lady Chubb Letters)
  • “Inner Magic” Collectible Sticker (designed by Jestenia Southerland)
  • Exclusive signed bookplate and author letter
  • OwlCrate Jr Magazine Issue #29 (Cover art by Shafer Brown and interior designed by Michelle Gray)
  • February “Write It Down” sneak peek postcard (Designed by VeepDoodles)

You can also head over to the OwlCrate website to take a look at photos and content lists for previous boxes dating back many years to give you a good idea of what to expect.

I found that I got slightly more use out of the OwlCrate Junior items. The gel pens are of fantastic quality, and I have been using them almost daily in my reading journal, the bubble bar was a lot of fun to use, the tea was tasty, and while the You Are Awesome Journal was a little young for me, it made a great gift for a friend’s daughter. As for the OwlCrate items, I found the hand cream useful and I’m sure the leg warmers will be too once the cold weather returns, but I found several of the items just acted as clutter. The jigsaw was related to a book I haven’t read (and am unlikely to read in the future) and the wooden ornament has gone into storage to be added to our Christmas items.

These Violent Delights Exclusive Dust Jacket Art, Image Sophie Brown
These Violent Delights Exclusive Dust Jacket Art, Image Sophie Brown

How Do Subscriptions Work?

Subscriptions work the same for both OwlCrate and OwlCrate Junior. Boxes are shipped out between the 15th and 20th of each month and you have the ability to also include additional add-on items to your order. You can choose between a monthly rolling subscription, a three-month pre-paid plan, or a six-month pre-paid plan. While there are some savings to be made by taking out longer plans, these don’t add up to a vast amount of money.

How Much Does It Cost?

For OwlCrate, the monthly rolling subscription will set you back $32.99, a three-month plan costs $95.97 (a saving of $3), and a six-month plan costs $185.95 (a saving of $12).

For OwlCrate Junior the costs are slightly lower. A monthly subscription costs $29.99, a three-month plan costs $86.97, and a six-month plan costs $167.94. The longer plans also have savings of $3 and $12 respectively.

None of these prices including shipping, which will vary depending on where you live. Shipping to the contiguous United States costs around $8.99 per box with taxes calculated by the state (for California, this is $3.88). However, I live in the UK so for me, shipping adds an additional $19.99 plus $5.30 in taxes per box.

Amari and the Night Brothers Items, Image Sophie Brown
Amari and the Night Brothers Items, Image Sophie Brown

Recently Included Books

To give you an idea of the types of books usually included in OwlCrate and OwlCrate Junior boxes, here are two lists of the books contained in every box so far in 2021. As you will notice, OwlCrate boxes always contain one book while some OwlCrate Junior boxes contain two. The books in both boxes heavily lean toward the fantasy and magical realism genres, so if you’re not a big fan of these then you might want to consider looking at some other subscription services instead.

OwlCrate Junior

  • June 2021: The Strange Worlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski
  • May 2021: The Last Shadow Warrior by Sam Subity
  • April 2021: Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls by Kaela Rivera and Paola Santiago and The River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia
  • March 2021: The Elephant in the Room by Holly Goldberg Sloan and The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  • February 2021: The In-Between by Rebecca K.S. Ansari
  • January 2021: Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B Alston

OwlCrate

  • June 2021: Sisters of the Snake by Serena and Sasha Nanua
  • May 2021: The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He
  • April 2021: Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart
  • March 2021: Sweet and Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley
  • February 2021: The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
  • January 2021: Lore by Alexandra Bracken
These Violent Delights Items, Image Sophie Brown
These Violent Delights Items, Image Sophie Brown

Verdict

I loved receiving my OwlCrate and OwlCrate Junior boxes and would absolutely consider signing up to receive more in the future. The books we received were both ones that both myself and my husband already had on our want-to-read lists and, looking through the lists of previous books, there are many more that I would love to read one day. I also found many of the included items useful, although there were definitely some I would have been happy to see replaced such as the jigsaw which is still sat gathering dust on a shelf.

As with all subscription box services, there is always an element of risk here. Not knowing what you will receive each month means there is the possibility of receiving books you already own or that you have no interest in reading. The inclusion of many other items means you should at least gain something useful out of each month’s box, but potentially at a steep cost if the only item you’re interested in one month is a hand cream or a notebook. These items will also quickly begin to add up and you’ll soon find your home filled with tapestries, bags, pins, and miscellaneous homewares that will often be related to books you don’t know—whether this is a pro or a con to the service is something only you can decide.

The one thing that would put me off subscribing to OwlCrate or OwlCrate Junior at present is the high international shipping costs. With shipping to the UK costing almost as much as the box itself, this is hugely offputting—a single OwlCrate Box will set me back nearly $60, which is a huge sum for a single hardback book and a few accessories, no matter how exclusive and exciting they may be. While I appreciate that shipping heavy boxes across the globe can’t come cheaply, the costs right now are simply too high for me to consider signing up for such a service, and I would be more inclined to look at a book subscription box that ships from the UK instead.

All things considered, OwlCrate and OwlCrate Junior subscriptions will make for an ideal gift for the book lover in your life or even yourself, but beware if you live outside the United States and make sure to factor in all the costs before hitting that subscribe button.

GeekMom received boxes from OwlCrate and OwlCrate Junior for review purposes.

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