Let's start with the box itself. OwlCrate and FairyLoot both have adorable boxes. The boxes are well-designed, and they appeal to the bookworm in me. OwlCrate's box has a more nerdy leaning while FairyLoot feels more fantasy, but that fits the culture of both boxes well.
Next up: the spoiler cards. Both boxes include a card with original artwork on one side and a list of the items included in the box on the other. The OwlCrate spoiler card is significantly smaller than the FairyLoot one, which is nice because it's easier to tuck into the pages of a book or use as a bookmark. The FairyLoot spoiler card is too large to be used as a bookmark, but unlike the OwlCrate spoiler cards (which usually have the name OwlCrate written prominently and in large letters), FairyLoot spoiler cards have the company's name written in the bottom corner, out of the way of the artwork. This makes it feel like you could display the FairyLoot card for the design in a way you can't for OwlCrate spoiler cards.
Neither box has spoiler card art that takes my breath away, but I think I like the FairyLoot artwork a little bit more than OwlCrate's. That said, OwlCrate's spoiler card artwork is always a surprise, unlike FairyLoot, who uses the same artwork on the spoiler card to announce the theme on their website and Instagram.
As far as the information included on the card is concerned, the writing for FairyLoot's spoiler card is more awkward and less fun than OwlCrate's. However, I like that FairyLoot writes down every item in the box on the card. In my experience, OwlCrate doesn't include extras (like free samples for soon-to-be-released novels) on their spoiler cards.
What about the items in the box? OwlCrate and FairyLoot send out a similar number of items in each box, but the items in the FairyLoot boxes feel bigger and more useable to me. While OwlCrate usually has two "large" items (e.g. candle, tote bag, pillowcase, box of tea) per box, FairyLoot tends to have three or four.
I've noticed that OwlCrate sends out more items specific to a certain fandom or story (although I have noticed them moving away from that) while FairyLoot is more concerned with items that fit the theme.
The books. A book subscription box would not be what it is without the book. I have been really happy with OwlCrate's selections in the past, but I'll admit that some of the books they've chosen have not been my favorite. However, their taste in books is more similar to mine than FairyLoot's.
The books themselves are similar in footprint: a recently released and hardcover edition of a YA book. OwlCrate has started doing exclusive covers, but I usually like the "real" cover more than the ones they send.
The book's extras. Both boxes include a letter from the author and a signed bookplate. FairyLoot's book comes in a little bag and includes a bookmark and reading buddy card, which are nice touches that make the box feel special. OwlCrate usually includes stickers, a poster, a temporary tattoo, or another item from the publisher to go with the book. There's something about book-related swag that I love, so I'm a big fan of that.
Announcing the next theme. OwlCrate and FairyLoot both post the next month's theme on Instagram, so following them there is a great way to know what's next. Of course, you can also find that information on their respective websites.
Both boxes also include an announcement in the box itself. The back page of FairyLoot's FairyScoop discusses the next month's theme, talks about the book and which fandoms will be represented (such as Harry Potter), and reveals a supplier for the box. OwlCrate, on the other hand, includes a small card with the theme on one side and a sneak peak on the other. The art you'll find on the back of the FairyScoop is exactly what will be on the next box's spoiler card, but the OwlCrate cards feature art that you won't see in the box itself. And I do have to say that I consistently love the art on the OwlCrate sneak peak cards!
Here's a picture of two OwlCrate theme announcement cards.
(It didn't turn out as well as I would have liked, but oh well.)
What about the box's price? OwlCrate boxes are $29.99 USD if you don't count shipping and handling. FairyLoot's July boxes are £26.00, which is about $34.00 (I'm rounding a little bit) at the current exchange rate.
This means that OwlCrate boxes are slightly less expensive than FairyLoot boxes. While only a significant drop in the value of GBP will make FairyLoot cheaper than OwlCrate, the conversion rate will change the price of FairyCrate boxes in USD.
How much does shipping cost? Shipping on book subscription boxes is not cheap. OwlCrate and FairyLoot shipping prices depend upon final location. For people in the US, OwlCrate shipping is $6.99 USD. The shipping on a FairyLoot box to the United States is £14.00, or about $18.00 USD.
Because of the nature of having one box in USD and the other in GBP, conversion rates do come into play. In addition, shipping ranges wildly based upon where you live. If you live in the United Kingdom, FairyLoot shipping will likely be cheaper than OwlCrate's $19.99 international shipping cost.
My verdict. I feel like I get a greater number of useable items from FairyLoot, but the shipping price places it in the "for special occasions only" area. OwlCrate is more affordable, but I feel like I often end up with items that don't have a place in my life or that belong to a fandom I'm not a member of.
I hope that helps you get a better sense of the similarities and differences between the two boxes! Which box sounds better to you?