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Pretty Books Hurt

Nothing beats the serotonin boost of seeing one of my favorite book boxes sitting on the front porch after coming home from an exhausting hospital shift.

Illumicrate, a book-box subscription company based from the United Kingdom, curates and customizes special editions of young-adult and new-adult, fantasy books, most of which are artfully produced and have been sought after by many readers, book collectors, and book hoarders. Topping the list of their most in-demand books are the Illumicrate Archives, a special edition box launched in September 2020, in the hopes of bringing readers brand new and repackaged books of older, completed series, along with fandom-related merch. Their very first Archive Collection featured The Poppy War Trilogy by R.F. Kuang, followed by The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare, Raybearer duology by Jordan Ifueko, and most recently, The Green Bone Saga by Fonda Lee.

With their growing number of subscribers and interested readers across the world, these book sets have become more in-demand and more difficult to collect if you miss out on the public sale. Though you can still purchase them from resellers, it's worth noting that some of them are listed at prices higher than the retail price (understandable but still horrifying if you're desperate to buy one).

Since these books are specifically printed and designed by the company, in collaboration with talented artists and specific publishers, these collective sets are limited in numbers and sell out fast, depending on the demand; and it often leaves the question: Are they worth it? If you fear missing out on special editions of books that you love, then yes, they are worth every penny that you’ve spent them on. I don’t collect most of the editions that they release, but I’ve made it a point to “invest” on books by authors whose works I look most forward to, and if Illumicrate features them in their archives or collections, I’d make sure that I’ve made the sound decision to purchase them so I can save up until sale day.

Nonetheless, if you have the privilege to spoil yourself with these books, then go for it, but for people like me who need to go through a mental debate of should-i-or-should-i-not because of financial concerns, it’s a matter of rethinking and re-evaluating the pros and cons of buying them. In my case, the pros always win (insert half-laughing, half-crying meme). This then leaves the most important question once that little devil on your shoulder wins: Do I regret clicking that “place order” button? Sometimes, BUT nothing beats the thrill of having these books once you finally hold them.

Anyway, I hope I’m not the only one in a constant state of dilemma every time book box companies release pretty editions of books that I’d love to read. I do my best to turn a blind eye once I see them every now and then in my Instagram feed, but sometimes the budol is too strong not to ignore.


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