“Age is just a state of mind.”~Abhisek Bachchan, Indian actor
“Life is better with a plot.” That’s the tagline of Beautiful Madness Book Case, a new subscription service, two months old as of this post. The owner, Julia, is a former bookstore manager who approaches her kits with the philosophy of a care package: enjoy the overall experience of reading a book with a drink and a snack at your side. Each kit comes with all three of those plus bookish related items.
The whole mail-mystery-box-book-subscription began more than a year ago with Tracey Lynn Tobin’s unboxing videos on her blog No Page Left Blank.
Around this time, a writerfriend in my critique group showed off a Mockingjay necklace from her monthly Owlcrate mystery box. Every box has a book plus 5-7 themed paraphernalia. I was all over that so I started a subscription.
I’ve been more disappointed than not with Owlcrate, but eternally hopeful, I keep renewing my subscription. Still, or because of, I’m on the lookout for other cool kits and I found this one at BookExpo America. At this event, BMBC offered a show special at Book Expo America, and I bought it, opening it a few days later when I got home
The BEA16 kit–also called “Messenger Bag” on her site–didn’t overwhelm me, but there are some awesome elements.
The canvas messenger bag is by far the best part of this kit. It’s sturdy yet light, strong but flexible. I can see myself using this to carry my smaller writing tools when I don’t feel like hauling my laptop. The bag’s purple logo and her company’s tagline makes me smile.
The dandelion socks by Sock It to Me also make me smile. I love funky socks. My second favorite part.
The snacks and drinks are less exotic. Stash isn’t a grand brand of tea, but it’s far superior to Lipton. I received a nice varieties of flavors, but there were only three teabags. Still, not a wasted addition.
Moon Pies accompany that, three of them to match the number of tea bags, I presume. There was only one flavor, and I don’t casually eat pre-packaged, high-fat pastries. I have no objection to dessert–in fact, I support desserts!–but these are standard pastries, nothing homemade or unique. I’ll leave these for friends or strangers at a future scrapbook crop.
The bookish items that came along with the kit are a patch and soap. I had to look up what the Books-Coffee-Rain iron-on patch was because there was no info card enclosed. It comes from NoffHouseShop on Etsy, a creative couple that produces handmade patches, belts and more. I don’t sew, but I’m sure I can find a use for it if I think on it. The coffee scented soap, not so much so. The soap isn’t related to the book or theme, and I always think these type of soaps are showpieces. I mean, does anyone really use them in the shower and smell like coffee the entire day? I won’t use this for sure because my skin is crazy sensitive and I’ll break out in all sorts of rashy ickiness. This is an item I’ll re-gift, which is not a bad thing because that still makes it a useful addition to a kit.
Remember, this is a book kit, and the book is my third favorite part of the kit, only because I haven’t read anything by the author. The 2005 book is Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, a YA story about 15-year old Elizabeth Marie Hall who is dead and perhaps writing the book. I can’t tell the entire plotline from the back cover blurb, but it’s intriguing, for sure. Flipping through the book quickly, the story seems to make the dead look friendly, and I love it when Death is given a human side, so to speak. I will read this book, probably while sipping some tea and eating lower-fat biscotti cookies.
My overall review? I’d give it a solid B. Useful items: messenger bag; socks; tea; book; and maybe the patch. Non-useful items: soap and Moon Pies. That’s a 5:2 ratio, which is not bad, especially when the book is included in the Useful pile.
Overall, this particular kit is an innovative concept, but execution is still developing. I’m happier that I paid the BookExpo America price rather than the shipped price ($46.50). Watching Jennaclarek’s YouTube unboxing of the first kit–Chapter One: Edgar Allen Poe–that would’ve been a more exciting kit for me.
The only comparison I have to BMBC is Owlcrate ($37 shipped), which is $10 cheaper. However, I’m seeing repetition in thee 5-7 items included in each crate, like jewelry and candles, and from the same vendors. BMBC is fledgling, and the owner is open to feedback and constructive suggestions. I like that in a company, one that is customer focused. At BEA16, she was so much friendlier than Owlcrate was. She and I talked for more than 15 minutes about this-n-that with her company and with my interest as a consumer. Owlcrate was “too busy”–seriously, they said that to my face!–to acknowledge and chat with a current subscriber like myself.
I so want a functional YouTube channel so I can do unboxing like this, but that’s for another time.
BMBC is a new company, and I suspect still finding its way and audience. I’m curious to see what develops. Should you give it a try?
I am. Chapter 2, here I come.