It is 2017 and friends, since I first learned of and became obsessed with their existence three years ago, I have tried a lot of subscription boxes. Candles, jewelry, clothing, food and wine, makeup, perfume, sleep or bath-related–if it exists, I have probably subscribed to it for at least a month before canceling in a snit, disappointed and frustrated. (Except the wine, if I am being honest here.) I am looking for a certain subscription box experience, you see, and these purveyors of purported monthly gratification were not even coming close to satisfying the needs of my dark heart.
It was in the void of my despair I then encountered The Nocturnal Reader’s Box.
A Subscription Box for fans of Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy Books and Psychological Thrillers, The Nocturnal Reader’s Box is a monthly subscription service that specializes in bringing to their customers new and exciting books from authors, both well-established and lesser known. Each box includes one newly released book, one previously released book, custom artwork, one wearable, and various expertly curated fandom merchandise.. Having subscribed back in May, I have since received three boxes and not a one of them was a dud–which is no mean feat, considering that in the past, my experience has been that I will usually like one thing in a box and everything else is sort of “meh”. Or another criticism I have of “dark” or “horror” genre boxes like this is that the quality of the items is very poor, and most of it is cheap, crappy nonsense. Every item in every Nocturnal Reader’s Box I have received thus far–from bookmarks to coffee mugs, from tote bags to trucker caps, is something I took out of the box, exclaimed at how awesome it was, and actually use. Even the snap back trucker cap. It says Captain Trips on it! How can I not?
And of course, there are the books themselves–all of which I have devoured within days of receiving each box.
If it sounds like I am really hyping them up, that’s because I am. I can’t help it. As a lifelong lover of all things horror and haunted, I could not be more thrilled with the excellence of The Nocturnal Reader’s Box, and I only wish I had discovered them sooner.
I recently had the opportunity to catch up with founders Vincent and Jessica Guerrero about their dark offerings; see below for our Q&A and be sure to leave a comment to be eligible for a giveaway of their now sold out October Nocturnal Reader’s Anniversary Box!
Haute Macabre: You note yourselves “lovers of everything dark”–let’s drill a little further down into that, shall we? I’d love to hear of your various dark interests, however they developed and whatever they may be, but books in particular, of course!
Vincent Guererro: So I was exposed to horror at a very young age in the form of film and comics. My mother was a horror junkie back in the 80s (and still is today) and we would watch every horror movie that came out. I was about 4 the first time I actually asked my mom to read horror to me, and I was hooked.
I remember horror always being a part of my life growing up. My father used to work as a distributor in grocery stores and would bring home Tales from the Crypt comics that were extras from the month before. Its great to have a community like the one we are building that can get together online in our forum and discuss these types of things. Its amazing how many of our subscribers started adult speculative fiction at the same age as me.
Jessica Guerrero: Growing up I wasn’t exposed to horror as much as Vincent. The only horror that I got was through the films that my older cousin would make me watch. After we were married and our book collections were merged I was introduced to a whole new genre and I haven’t looked back. This was only about 8 years ago, but we read so much (especially now) that I’m pretty far down the literary horror wormhole.
I think what’s really exciting about reading horror is that you can genuinely be frightened, but having my husband next to me at night helps to calm that fear once the lights are out.
Why the subscription box route, and can you tie that into the genesis of the Nocturnal Reader’s Box? How do you feel you differ from other horror-themed subscription boxes?
J.G: When researching a box for ourselves, everything that came up was 90% young adult, and no one was dealing in horror fiction. So, we made a box to which we would subscribe, thus, The Nocturnal Reader’s Box.
V.G.: Like Jessica said, we never really set out to start a business. I was in school finishing my MBA, and we figured, what the hell, I don’t want to be stuck in an office forever haha. I used to be subscribed to other horror themed boxes, but those only dealt in film horror, and there was so much out there that wasn’t being represented. Stuff that hadn’t been adapted into film that needed exposure, so it just naturally fell together.
We knew we didn’t want a storefront, and an online marketplace could be fun, but we also felt that we wanted to add something to the subscription industry that felt lacking.
How do you choose the books and corresponding items that you include with each box? What have been some of your favorite boxes to curate for Nocturnal Readers thus far?
J.G: We typically choose the books for each month first. Once those are set, then we can start brainstorming items that go with a central theme. Now that we’re no longer theming our boxes, I’d say the process is a little more natural and we can choose the items based on our subscribers preferences. As far as favorites its a hard choice, but I’d have to say the All Hail the King box, and The Feast.
V.G.: The publishers that we have worked with have all been amazing. They send us titles and we get to spend most of our time reading and creating designs. We have been able to work with some great authors, including Stephen King.
With the All Hail the King box, we were able to literally talk to him and his agents about creating an exclusive cover for our subscribers. I have loved every box that we put out, minus our first one. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t live up to what I thought it would.
I myself have thought to curate quality niche boxes but found it a really daunting prospect. What have been some of the challenges you’ve run into, whether anticipated or thoroughly unexpected? Conversely, I’d as someone who desperately wants to see endeavors like this succeed, please share with me some of the more rewarding aspects of this undertaking.
J.G.– There have been months where we’ve had to completely throw out a theme and start from scratch because of one reason or another. Of course, we have a deadline to meet each month and the closer we get to that deadline, the more creative we have to be.
V.G.— For me personally I think my only issue is learning to work with customers. I absolutely love creating this box with my family each month. We honestly get more excited than the subscribers do waiting for them to receive their boxes. When something goes wrong, like with shipping, its not something we can control, but we get a dissatisfied customer, and that’s a bummer. So as far as negatives, that’s a big one.
J.G. & V.G.—The positives are too long to list, and though that seems like a cop-out, its very true. So I will just say that we get to stay home with our daughter, reading and creating every day. Our community is engaging and fun. We have made a bunch of real friends that we’ve been able to actually hang out and get drinks with.
The amazing community keeps us going, we are constantly trying to figure out new ways to connect and to give back, and we are having a blast!
The Nocturnal Reader’s Box has generously offered an October Box to one reader!
What horror novels have haunted you recently? What are your all-time beloved spooky reads? Tell us all about your frightful favorites in the comments, and be sure to follow both Haute Macabre and The Nocturnal Reader’s Box on instagram to be eligible for the giveaway. A winner will be chosen one week from today.