Hi everyone! Hope you’re doing well! This is the first of a couple of scheduled posts I have coming up over the next week because I’m away (well…40 minutes away from where I live) with my girlfriend for our anniversary so I won’t have much time to blog during this week, but I still have a lot to say! This post is a little different to what I normally post, and may be a bit all over the place as a result, but I would love to hear your opinions on this topic too.
For a little bit of background, I recently joined Depop, both for selling and for buying. Overall, I’ve had a pretty positive experience – I’ve managed to send books that have been sitting unused and unread on my shelves for years to people who will appreciate them much more than I would, and I’ve bought some (of course they’re all sapphic) second hand books and even a gorgeous tarot deck (which you’ll be hearing more about soon!). However, whilst scrolling through the ‘books and magazines’ category I noticed a lot of people reselling items from book subscription boxes, and it really got me thinking.
First of all, there are definitely positives to selling items in your book subscription boxes online. As you don’t find out the book, or the items inside, before receiving the box, you can almost guarantee there will be at least 1 item inside that isn’t really your taste, or is related to a book or fandom you’re not interested in. So, selling them on Depop allows others, who may well love those items and who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get them, get their hands on them. Plus, if it’s a book that you particularly love you can have a look on Depop and most likely find that exclusive book box edition to add to your collection. In fact, I bought the gorgeous Illumicrate edition of Seven Devils on Depop after searching for one for ages on the site, and I’m so happy to own it! And the majority of Depop sellers are actually really great and really kind! Plus, because we’re living in such a unstable economic period right now, Depop is a great way to get some money selling things you might not want anymore.
However, I have noticed that the majority of the books being resold are those that have been marketed as being queer, or are written by authors of colour. So, I did a little research. All of the books I’m about to mention were in either Fairyloot or Illumicrate boxes (which I think are the two most popular book boxes in the UK) from around Autumn last year until now and are being sold on UK Depop with shipping included in the prices (I can’t see any that aren’t being sold in GBP or not in the UK, so US/Europe/Worldwide stats may be a bit different). These are all on sale on the 29th of September 2020, but by the time you see this post, bear in mind that some may have sold if you choose to have a look yourself. I’ve sorted the books by book box and by diverse reads/not so diverse reads, with the number of books being sold on the site and how much they’re being sold for. Please bear in mind, although some of the ‘less diverse’ books may well have characters of colour/LGBT characters, they were not actively being promoted as having them.
|Title||Rep||No. sold||% Unread*||Price|
|The Midnight Lie||LGBT||3||33%||£15-40|
|This Time Will Be Different||AOC||4||20%||£10-16|
|The Space Between Worlds||AOC/LGBT||4||75%||£30-65|
|The Girl and the Stars||N/A||0||N/A||N/A|
|Chain of Gold||N/A||0||N/A||N/A|
|The Starless Sea||N/A||0||N/A||N/A|
**Not sure if all of these are Illumicrate exclusive editions or not so take this with a pinch of salt
|Title||Rep||No. sold||% Unread*||Price|
|Forest of Souls||AOC||6||33%||£20-30|
|Girl, Serpent, Thorn||AOC/LGBT||4||0%||£40-50|
|Woven In Moonlight||AOC||2||100%||£10-25|
|The Gilded Ones (paperback/unreleased)||AOC||1||100%||£28|
|Wicked as You Wish (ARC)||AOC/LGBT||2**||50%||£10|
|A River of Royal Blood||AOC||4||25%||£30-65|
|Bone Crier’s Moon||N/A||2||50%||£26-40|
|The Shadows Between Us||N/A||1||0%||£50|
|Eight Will Fall||N/A***||11||27%||£10-39|
|Serpent & Dove||N/A||0||N/A||N/A|
**One of these ARCs is Up For Trade and you’re just paying for shipping
***As mentioned, does have LGBT rep, but wasn’t advertised as so
Even books from perhaps ‘smaller’ book boxes are showing the same trend – I’ve particularly noticed quite a few copies of Star Daughter on there. Admittedly, there were a couple of outliers, such as Eight Will Fall, which does actually have queer rep, but was not marketed (as far as I’m aware) as having any, although please feel free to correct me on this. Furthermore, the condition of books being sold is listed on their post, which is a real positive for those who wish their books to be pristine (I don’t fall into this category anymore but I did used to and I know the pain of a cracked spine on a book you love!). Some sellers, though not all, also put whether the book is unread or not, and from what I can see, most of the ones that said unread were those by AOC or with queer rep. Once again, it is important to note that, no the book in a box isn’t always going to be your kinda thing, but I do think that this is quite telling.
Furthermore, from my research above, you can see that the prices of some of these books is exorbitant. Some are more reasonable for what is a signed, special edition book (I would consider around £15-20 a good price for this, including shipping), but some are ridiculously high – see The Space Between Worlds being sold for £60 (a gorgeous book but a shocking resale price). Even for paperbacks, such as the beautiful copy of The Gilded Ones, which isn’t released until next year (though isn’t an ARC) being sold for £28 and even an ARC of Wicked as You Wish being sold for £10 when they’re not meant to be sold. These prices look even more ludicrous when you look at how much a box costs the original buyer. If you are in mainland UK and order a Fairyloot box, this will cost you around £26 plus shipping. An Illumicrate box, also being sent somewhere in mainland UK is £27 plus shipping. I’ve even seen the individual items being sold for a stupidly high price (including a mug for the price of a whole box, and a set of playing cards for £53!!!). When you consider you get the book, plus around 6/7 specially designed items in there, selling a book for anywhere near that price is ridiculous!
What’s more, is that there are currently really long waiting lists to buy a Fairyloot or Illumicrate subscription. There are quite a few UK sellers on Depop who subscribe to both boxes (imagine having that much disposable income!) and who sell on almost every book they receive for much more than they bought the box for. Not only is this preventing those who would actually appreciate these books from joining the subscription, you are also making them available only to those who can afford the sometimes £60 price tag. Besides, it’s quite easy to do a bit of research when you have the clues for the next box to figure out if you’d like the book or not, and skip the box if it’s not for you, thus letting someone else have a chance to read the book in the first place. As I mentioned, quite a few of these books are described as having ‘never been read’, but I was quite shocked at seeing the copy of The Gilded Ones being on sale with ‘never read but bought with the intention of reading’ in the caption, particularly when the book box it came in was the June of this year box – it’s not exactly like it’s been sitting on your shelves for years, unread and unloved, and just seems a little disingenuous to me. I know this is a tricky debate to navigate, what with all the discussion of consumerism in the book community that has been occurring recently, but I do think it’s a necessary one to have.
Finally, further regarding the whole “stopping people getting the exclusive editions in the first place if you’re just going to sell them on straight away” shenanigans, this brings me to exclusive boxes. By exclusive boxes, I mean the ones that sell gorgeous sets of well-loved series with exclusive covers/hidden art on dust jackets/sprayed edges/whatever, such as the beautiful Poppy War editions that have recently been announced (and which I would kill to own!). I have seen a ridiculous number of these exclusive editions being sold on Depop, again for extortionate prices, such as the A Darker Shade of Magic Series, and the Cruel Prince series. I recently saw the Owlcrate exclusive editions of Wicked Saints and Ruthless Gods on sale for £90 + £10 shipping!!! Now, these editions were all on sale relatively recently, so I find it strange that someone may have grown out of them and that’s why they’re on sale. But also, these aren’t ones you get in a normal subscription box, where you have no idea what book is inside – you have to go out of your way to purchase these, knowing what books are inside, knowing you’re getting the whole series, and more often than not, knowing what the editions actually look like. Plus, these boxes are often expensive and they sell out very quickly, like the Daevabad trilogy did, and to see so many people upset at missing out, while they’re being sold on Depop not a month later for sky-high prices, feels rather selfish to me.
So, as I said, I’m not against reselling on Depop, and I think that being able to find gorgeous editions of your favourite books being sold second hand is great (and is also great for the environment), however, there are also some not so great things about the whole situation too. I’d love to hear your opinions on the subject (although I won’t be able to reply until I’m back from being ‘on holiday’), especially if you are one of these sellers! As always, stay safe!