BooksNBeyond: Anniversary Box Edition (January 2019)

*Disclaimer: The pictures used in this review belong to me. This post is not sponsored. Everything written over here is just my opinion.

 

Hey, folks!

I’m sure a lot of you are surprised with yet another consistent upload. Yes, I know, shame on me and all that, but, I’m really trying hard to balance my life between studies and other side interests as well as the blog. If I happen across a string of consistent luck then, I might even land some wonderful opportunities. What opportunities you ask? That’s a secret. This blog isn’t about me, it’s about you and what you need to know before your next big purchase! I might have mentioned this a few posts ago, I had purchased a BooksNBeyond Box back in December’18 and it was delivered to me about a week or so ago. In fact, I was going to upload a completely different review today but I decided against it. Oh, the other review is just as fun, don’t worry about it. It’s just that this box was just such an experience and I couldn’t delay this any further.

 

All that being said, let’s get into the review!

What is a Subscription Box?

A Subscription Box is a monthly, bimonthly, trimonthly or quarterly planned and distributed box that usually holds a theme based on the genre or category it is from. You can receive Subscription Boxes from different countries depending on the list of countries they ship to. Some of the more common Subscription Boxes you will see on this blog will range from genres like Beauty, Books, Skincare, Kawaii(Cute/Japanese themes), Food, etc.

What is BooksNBeyond Box?

Books N Beyond is an Indian Book Subscription Service that also sells Bookish merchandise on its site as well. Books N Beyond is the Dream Project for Papiya and Pankaj, the Founders of the Literary Shop/Book Subscription Box. The first box was launched in January 2017 with a Harry Potter themed Box, and since then, each month has always been graced with a brand new theme that the BnB procures and assembles every month. A lot of these items are exclusive to the BnB brand and are made in collaboration with various artists.

Currently, BnB offers the following Subscription Packs-

Monthly Boxes 

Paired Boxes

Quarterly Boxes

Customized Boxes

The Custom made boxes are customer preference based. They could be of any genre or fandom, all you need is a theme with a basic idea and what should the box include. Based on the information given out by the customer, the rest is on the BnB team to try and make a plan for what all the box must contain and how it must be designed according to the customer’s taste. A lot of the items in the box are exclusive BnB products and designs and the rest are imported items that may or may not take a while to arrive or to arrange. After that, the BnB team will then quote their price and the rest is up to the customer. Some of the custom boxes they’ve curated in the past had the following themes-

Gossip Girl

Jane Austen

Harry Potter

The Vampire Academy

The other products available on their site are-

Bookish Jewellery

Book Sleeves or Bleeves, that are one of their most sought after products due to their exclusive designs.

Accessories

Cushion Covers

Journals & Notebooks

Pins & Badges

To visit their site, click here.

Personally?

My reviews on this subscription service are few in numbers but I’ve always commended the amount of effort and consideration put into the items that they curate. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I will be biased or will unfairly favour BnB over other services. BooksNBeyond so far has been my favourite subscription service and I can see myself going back to them more often. So, why don’t I? It’s not because I don’t want to pay for a 6 month plan, I just don’t find every book that releases appealing enough to be bought. If they do have an option where I can skip a certain box and pay a renewal, I am up for it. The time taken to receive this box was definitely long. It’s a January Box that I received all the way in March, that was a bit of a pain. I placed the order back in December and I had been told at the time that it would be sent out towards the end of February, so, I wasn’t all that annoyed either. They kept me in the loop and always informed from issues with delivery of their own inventory for the box to assembling the box. I really, really cannot emphasis enough on how important it is to keep your customer and audience informed. Communication is vey important.

So, here are the scores so far:-

Arrival: 7/10

Social Media Activity: 9/10

Customer Service: 8/10

Authenticity: 9/10

Without further ado, let’s get into this!

Designer Canvas Sling Bag (Exclusive)

The design of the sling bag is simple and dark blue in color. It has the design of books that seem to fly up and transition into a bird. There is also a writing on it,”I am part of every book I read.” The inside of the bag is covered with a smooth satin material which is also blue in color.

I’m usually not a big fan of sling bags in subscription boxes because they’re either faded or blurred when it comes to their designs. While I don’t really see myself using this sling bag anytime soon, I do know of several people who would be interested in such a handy item. Bibliophiles and their love for such things can never be underestimated.

Product Ratings-

Quality: 7/10

Defects: None

Value: 6/10

Hit or Miss: Miss

Relevance: 7/10

The Book Hunters of Katpadi by Pradeep Sebastian (Hardback)

Pradeep Sebastian has co-edited two volumes of essays, Mr. Naipaul’s Round Trip and Other Essays and 50 Writers, 50 Books: The Best of Indian Fiction. The Groaning Shelf and Other Instances of Book Love, the collection of his bibliophile essays, was published by Hachette India in 2010. He prefers to write about the art of books and is a fervent collector of fine press books. This is a hardback copy of the book and it is very well designed on the jacket. Under the jacket, the actual hardback has a very simple engraving of a key with the usual title and name of the book and author. This book was also sent with an exclusive to BnB letter from the author himself!

 

Here is a little summary on the book:-

Neelambari Adigal and her young associate, Kayal, together run Biblio, a one-of-a-kind store of rare books in Chennai, specializing in modern Indian first editions. The lives of these passionate bookwomen revolve around curious browsers, eccentric book collectors, private-press printers and the occasional thrill of unexpected discoveries of the antiquarian kind. 

On a book-collecting trip to Ooty, Kayal stumbles upon an incendiary manuscript, long thought to be a myth, purportedly authored by explorer and translator Sir Richard Francis Burton. Almost simultaneously, a cache of priceless editions that looks like it could be from the 300-year-old library of one of the greatest book collectors the world has ever known, turns up at the bookshop. When it falls upon the two women to authenticate their finds, Neela and Kayal discover, quite suddenly, that their lives are more full of bibliographic intrigue than they could ever have imagined.
India’s first-ever biblio-mystery, The Book Hunters of Katpadi, is the book every lover of the written word has been waiting for. In the tradition of the greatest in the genre, it holds within its pages adventure, action, suspense – and the sheer thrill of close encounters with prized print-on-paper.


I was in complete awe of how the book looks so much better in person than the pictures. The smooth finishing of the jacket to the simple yet not so subtle designs, I knew I made the right decision by purchasing this box. Even the plot and the idea behind this book opens up a new genre of writing for Indian readers. Now, I won’t even begin to talk about how I haven’t read the book because, I haven’t. But, this is a very promising book and I’m quite eager to get into. Overall, I’m sure a lot of people were happy with their choice. And, yes, there was another option as well and it was the A Curse So Dark & Lonely. I just didn’t find the book very appealing when it came to looks and the plot, I’m glad I opted to choose otherwise.

Product Ratings-

Quality: 8/10

Defects: None

Value: 8/10

Hit or Miss: Big Hit

Relevance: 8/10

Designer 12 Month Calendar

The month starts from February because that’s when the box were supposed to reach the customers. The calendar is in the form of cards with a wooden stand that has a single slot for one card, which is, the card of the month. They each have a little saying from writers or characters from novels.

It’s the usual Box trope when it’s the beginning of the year, I still have my calendars from last year, which I never used but somehow, I forgot that BnB might send me one of these. So, when I did unbox everything and see this, I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t really care for calendars, and I always use my phone whenever I need one but the aesthetics and quality really threw me off. It’s just one of those things I would look at and never buy for myself but would enjoy it as a gift. A really nice addition, cliched but it was executed very well.

Product Ratings-

Quality: 8/10

Defects: None

Value: 8/10

Hit or Miss: Hit

Relevance: 8/10

Pavilion of Thoughts Notepad

It’s a simple notepad with a vintage and mystique look to it. I haven’t counted the pages but it’s close to 200 pages or so.

Now, I’m not sure if this was sent in reference to some kind of novel or fandom. The most I could find out is that there is a book with the same name by Laini Taylor. I’m all for additional stationary but this notepad wasn’t exactly a big hit for me. Notepads aren’t something I use on a daily or at all, in fact, I much prefer notebooks and spiral bind planners to jot things down. I suppose, the others who received this notepad might have enjoyed it more than myself but I’m not a fan of this, maybe a notebook would’ve been better.

Product Ratings-

Quality: 6/10

Defects: None

Value: 5/10

Hit or Miss: Miss

Relevance: 6/10

The Binding by Bridget Collins

Bridget Collins trained as an actor at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art after reading English at King’s College, Cambridge. She is the author of seven acclaimed books for young adults and has had two plays produced, one at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. THE BINDING is her first adult novel. This is one of the most beautiful novels I’ve ever seen and c’mon, we all know that most of us got this box only for this book in particular. The illustration on the jacket is so beautiful but lo and behold, underneath the jacket lays one of the prettiest illustrations I’ve ever seen. It’s so immersive and I kid you not, I couldn’t take my eyes of it, I was in trance. Yeah, I haven’t read it yet but trust me, this is my summer read.

Product Ratings-

Quality: 10/10

Defects: None

Value: 10/10

Hit or Miss: Massive Hit

Relevance: 9/10

Mini Vintage Envelopes

The designs for the envelopes were inspired by the Gurnsey Potato Peel Pie Society. They come in a set of 12 and they’re quite small, so, don’t mistake them for the usual envelopes. Also, they’re printed on the front and back.

When I first saw these, all I could think about was, woah, this will be an amazing prop. Now, I don’t know whether everyone felt the same way but I know, that I definitely loved these little envelopes. They’re sweet and so charming in their own way, and, of course, they make amazing props as well. This was a total hit for me, I don’t have anything else to say, your honour.

Product Ratings-

Quality: 8/10

Defects: None

Value: 9/10

Hit or Miss: Hit

Relevance: 8/10

The LED Glow Pen + Stylus (Exclusive)

It took me until I actually read the card (I take the pictures first when I unbox, and then, I read about them) to realise that this was a glow pen. It’s a regular pen with blue ink.

So, I did receive a pen in my last package from BnB during a sale and it had a pen. Safe to say that it was intentionally sent, though, it didn’t work when I tried to write with it. I guess a pen does make sense but I wish the pen looked different and was a little more exclusive with the design.

Product Ratings-

Quality: 5/10

Defects: None

Value: 5/10

Hit or Miss: Undecided

Relevance: 7/10

Ancient Key Replica

It’s a small key that sort of resembles the key under the book jacket of The Book Hunters of Katpadi but I can’t vouch for it. The over size of the key isn’t very big, it’s actually quite small and it has a ribbon tied to it.

I will be honest, I didn’t see this key the first time. Mostly because I never got around to reading the item card and never took out the red package wrapping on the inside. It’s only when I pulled out The Binding, that I noticed a small key. I was almost certain that this was a mistake and a key was lost during the assembling. Of course, it turns out to be a little trinket for the box instead. It’s a cute little piece but I would’ve preferred it to be a little bigger, it would’ve increased the overall appeal of the key and it’s mysteriousness. Well, I still like it but, the heart is always gonna want more.

Product Ratings-

Quality: 7/10

Defects: None

Value: 7/10

Hit or Miss: Hit

Relevance: 8/10

My Verdict?

It’s always been a pleasure the last two times I received packages from BooksNBeyond and this time was no stranger either. I absolutely loved the books, they’re oh so beautiful and I’m really glad I purchased this box. Though, there were a couple of items that I didn’t like as much like the LED pen, especially. I can still work my feelings around with the sling bag and key but, the pen was a bit of a let down. Since the last pen I received, this pen was a lot better when it comes to looks and well, it can actually write but I really hope that the BnB works out some really cool designs for the pens in the future upcoming boxes. So, again, do I still recommend BnB? Oh, yes, I still do. It’s still an amazing box and I absolutely love it. Sure, a couple of things weren’t the greatest but there are a lot of people out there, who really like such items and would appreciate this way more than I do.

It’s been a very long day and many of you are just starting yours now as I post this review but, I do have a little treat for you. Since it’s National Puppy Day, Miko(My puppy) and I decided to make a little something for all of you. So, head on over to my Instagram @CryticCriticChan and enjoy our special present for you!

As always, do reach out to me and let me know of any suggestion or feedback you have in mind. Comment down below what you want me to try out next or what your favorite item in the box was! If you liked this review then, please don’t forget to leave a like and if this kind of content is your cup of tea, then, do follow me for more regular reviews!

Until the next post,

Laters, folks!

One Comment Add yours

  1. LovelyLu says:

    I’d never heard of this box before. It looks great. Lovely review x

    Liked by 1 person

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