The 7 Best Book Subscription Boxes of 2020

Flex your literary muscles

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Book subscription boxes are a great way to find new titles you might never have picked up on your own, and many of them include adorable bonus goodies, too. Whether you’re looking for a gift for a literature lover in your life or treating yourself, book subscription boxes can broaden your literary horizons. If you're a fan of YA, adventures, or specific genres, you’re sure to find something you love with one of our best book subscription boxes.

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The Strand's Book HookUp: Best Overall

The Book HookUp

The Book HookUp

Created by the legendary New York City bookstore, The Strand, The Book HookUp offers several unique monthly boxes for different interests.

The iconic bookstore’s subscription service allows customers to choose from nine different genres: art/photography, classics, feminist, fiction, kids, mystery/thriller, political nonfiction, sci-fi/fantasy, and YA. Not all box options are accepting new subscribers at all times, however.

Each box (other than art/photography) includes one signed first edition of a new release, an additional paperback book, and merch from The Strand and from partner shops (art boxes do not contain a second book).

The store does reveal “spoilers” for which first-edition book will be in each box, but the rest of the goodies are a surprise. Most boxes cost about $50 per box (sent out quarterly), with a few exceptions: the classics, YA, and "little readers" (kids) boxes cost around $38 and the art/photography boxes vary by the list price of the book.

Literati Kids: Best for Kids

Literati

Literati

Literati Kids (which also offers a book subscription box option for adults) offers a subscription box customized by age, theme, interests, and other details.

The service offers several different “book clubs” for kids of different ages, starting with books meant to be read to infants and going all the way up to approximately age 12. Each month is focused around a different theme, although the service also promises to include some "surprise" titles in there as well.

In each month’s box, subscribers will find five new books, all carefully selected around the details given by the customers and the month’s theme. Readers have one week to browse through the five books, and they can return the ones they don’t like, free of charge.

Literati has a two-part pricing plan: There's a subscription fee of about $10 per month. Each book you want to buy comes at a discounted price, and subscribers are charged for the books they don’t return.

OwlCrate: Best for YA

OwlCrate

OwlCrate

If you’ve ever spent any time in book-themed social media communities, you’ve probably heard of OwlCrate, a book subscription box that’s particularly popular among book bloggers and YA readers.

Each box includes one new hardcover book, signed by the author, and an exclusive letter from the author, along with various other coordinating goodies including a monthly OwlCrate magazine.

The company offers two different tiers: OwlCrate Jr., for middle-grades to age 12, and the original OwlCrate, for teens and older. The original OwlCrate boxes frequently include themed book goodies from their partners, meaning subscribers get to support small businesses while they’re getting great new books, along with a collectible enamel pin each month.

Subscribers can choose from three plans, which give discounted rates for longer subscriptions: about $27.99 for one month, around $80.97 for three months, or roughly $156 for six months.

The Book Drop: Best for Specific Genres

The Book Drop

The Book Drop

The boxes from The Book Drop—based out of Bethany Beach Books, a Delaware indie bookstore—are curated to strike a sweet spot between subscriber choice and surprises.

For younger readers, it offers three distinct boxes for different age groups: books for kids age 3 to 7, middle-grade books, and young adult. Its signature boxes for adults come in three quirky, genre-blending categories: Books for Tea, which features historical, contemporary, and literary fiction; Books for Bubbly; which includes romance/rom-coms, women’s fiction, and stories of friendships; and Books for Coffee, which focus on thrillers, mysteries, and suspense.

One of the most intriguing things about The Book Drop is its "blend" option: There are three additional box options that combine two of the main categories, alternating each month. Each box includes a copy of the month’s book selection, plus a bookplate or a signed note from the author.

Prices start at about $17 for one month, with slight discounts given for pre-paying for multiple months (around $50 for three months, roughly $99 for six, and approximately $198 for a full year).

Coffee and a Classic: Best for Classic Literature

Coffee and a Classic

Coffee and a Classic

Subscription boxes aren’t just for shiny new releases. In fact, Coffee and a Classic has made a whole brand out of revisiting some of the most famous must-reads in literary history and turning them into a full reading experience.

Each month’s box includes a book, some bookish goodies to go with it, and a drink to enjoy while reading. Subscribers can choose between three different themes: classic literature, children’s classics, or classic non-fiction, and the company posts "sneak peeks" of each box ahead of time, so you can see what book you’re getting before you order.

Coffee and a Classic offers two different levels of subscriptions. The "starter" subscription costs about $42 per month, including the book of the month, plus a beverage (tea, coffee, or hot chocolate), a bookmark, and two surprise goodies. For roughly $52, subscribers can get the "standard" option, which comes with all of the same items included in the starter box, plus a food item and a mug.

The Wordy Traveler: Best for an Adventurous Spirit

The Wordy Traveler

The Wordy Traveler

One of the best parts of reading is being able to feel transported to places and times we could never see in real life.

The Wordy Traveler’s book subscription boxes take that to the next level, curating monthly boxes around a location-based theme. The service offers quarterly boxes, each one curated to include books and items inspired by the selected location, with different options for fiction or non-fiction boxes.

The service has two different subscription levels. The "backpacking edition" of either genre includes one book, an ethically sourced tea, and a custom art print, plus the occasional surprise gift item, and it runs from about $50 for one quarter to roughly $270 for six quarters. The larger, "full suitcase" boxes include three books instead of just one, along with the tea, art print, and bonus goodies, ranging from around $110 for one quarter to approximately $594 for six quarters.

Subscribers can also choose to "add on" books from the genre they didn’t pick. Although the price is higher than some other companies, The Wordy Traveler donates a portion of proceeds to charities around the world that support education for women and girls.

Book of the Month: Best for Choosy Readers

Book of the Month

Book of the Month

Book of the Month is one of the simplest, most straightforward book subscription services out there, and it’s also one of the few that allows readers to pick their own titles.

Every month, the service selects five new releases that have a lot of buzz. Once the list comes out, subscribers get a few weeks to choose which one they want, and then their book of choice is promptly delivered. It’s a simple premise that’s kept the service going since 1962.

Unlike some of the other book subscriptions out there, Book of the Month is all about the book, nothing more—there are no bookish goodies or partner products. However, the service puts a lot of effort into curating its book selections. In recent years, they’ve been excellent at assembling diverse lists of books and authors, often prioritizing unique voices and debut authors.

Plus, the price is great: about $15 per month, for books that typically have list prices of between roughly $20 and $35.

How We Chose the Best Book Subscription Boxes

Book subscription boxes are for anyone, but readers have slightly different tastes. We’ve tried to include a wide variety of boxes, both in terms of contents and what’s included in the boxes themselves. Some of these subscriptions are simpler, best for readers who just want books without any extra frills, while others are perfect for readers who enjoy bookish goodies and bonus items themed around the books they read. There’s also a wide age range represented by these box selections, with options available starting with the very youngest readers and going all the way up through different genres of adult fiction and nonfiction.

For our best overall pick, The Strand's Book HookUp offers several unique monthly boxes for a variety of interests. Customers can choose from nine different genres including art/photography, classics, feminist, fiction, kids, mystery/thriller, sci-fi, and more. For younger readers, Literati Kids offers a subscription box customized by age, theme, and more, while OwlCrate not only sends books to readers, but goodies, too.

What Is a Book Subscription Box?

A book subscription box is a mail-order service that sends pre-selected literature to subscribers on a regular basis. Boxes typically come either monthly or quarterly, depending on the individual company, and contain curated books. But occasionally, other items that match the book selection in theme are included, too, like merch.

How Much Do Book Subscription Boxes Cost?

Different subscription packages range in price drastically (as low as roughly $15 or so, or as high as about $50 or more), but most book subscription boxes have a few things in common. For the most part, subscription boxes will be at a discounted rate from the typical standalone list price of the book or books in the box (ditto for those that include custom goodies). Most services also offer a slightly discounted rate for subscribers who pay for multiple months in advance, rather than month-by-month.

What Do Book Subscription Boxes Contain?

All book subscription boxes contain at least one piece of literature, selected by the company and typically a new release or interesting edition. Most boxes, however, contain more than just a single book. Some offer multiple books, while others curate a selection of complimentary goodies such as bookmarks, teas, artwork, and other custom items, often from small business partners.

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