The Made-Collectible: The Bookish Iconography of the Franklin Library and FairyLoot

No matter the time or place, the ownership of books has functioned not only as a point of access to texts, but also as a status symbol. There are many ways books can convey that status, including their material characteristics as determined by their makers. A revealing case study of this principle is the rise of FairyLoot, a subscription-based publisher of “exclusive editions,” and how it relates to earlier subscription based “made-collectible” models, like that of the Franklin Library.

In short, companies like FairyLoot are this generation’s version of the Franklin Library. The same marketplace principles apply—but because the audience is different, the end result of the manufactured object also differs. What brings these seemingly disparate companies together is their shared strategy of creating books with physical attributes that read to their target audience as “collectible.”

In the 20th century, a number of publishing companies embraced the idea of the “made-collectible,” books that were designed, marketed, and sold from the beginning as collector’s items. This strategy was brought to prominence in the United States by George Macy, who founded the Limited Editions Club (LEC) in 1929. Because it set the groundwork for the made-collectibles to come, LEC will serve as our baseline from which to compare and contrast two popular made-collectible book subscriptions, the Franklin Library (1973-2000) and FairyLoot (est. 2017).

Made-collectible publishing endeavors focus on the two primary variables in the equation of the collectible book marketplace: supply and demand. In other words, how many copies are available, and how much do people want it? Such publishers manipulate these concepts, in both their marketing and their production, in order to manufacture value as it is recognized on the collectible marketplace. Put another way, the “made-collectible” formula uses established iconography of collectible books—books whose value in the second-sale marketplace is associated as much for its physical attributes as for its text, and is sought for a higher price than a typical “used” book or reading copy—in order to stimulate market demand for new publications (rather than existing publications that have become collectible). But how each does so is determined first and foremost by their target audience, with the result that the final product looks quite different.

The Publishers

The Limited Editions Club was founded in 1929 by George Macy, who sought “to place beautifully printed books in the hands of book lovers at commendably low prices” and “to foster in America a high regard for perfection in book making” [1]. LEC books were originally priced at $10 per volume; by way of comparison, Scribner’s trade edition of Farewell to Arms in the same year was priced at $2.50. As Willard Goodwin notes, “throughout the 1930s LEC books were regularly listed among the AIGA 50 Books of the Year” [2]. Macy was known as “a man who combined a skilful devotion to the arts of the book with a necessary business sense,” as recorded by Nonesuch Press’s Francis Meynell [3]. The story and influence of LEC has been covered extensively elsewhere [4], but Macy’s approach contextualizes that of our main case studies, the Franklin Library and FairyLoot.

Exterior spine shot and slipcase from The Four Gospels
Fore-edge detail  from The Four Gospels

Exterior spine shot and slipcase (left), and fore-edge detail (right) from The Four Gospels, one of 1500 copies signed and illustrated by Emil Rudolf Weiss, Limited Editions Club, 1932. Credit: Type Punch Matrix.

The Franklin Library was established in 1973 as a division of the Franklin Mint, a private company founded in 1964 by Joseph Segal that began (as the name implies) in the business of minting made-collectible coins. According to the Franklin Mint website, Segal “saw an opportunity and interest in the market and grew a business that specialized in the best collector items, such as rare coins, diecast models, historical currencies, unique decorations, porcelain objects, jewelry, and much more. Since then, this business has marketed limited-edition products made of precious metals (typically sterling silver) for those interested in American history and national symbols” [5]. The Franklin Library was a subscription based service, like LEC, and its target audience was also an aspirationally upwardly mobile middle class buyer—the main difference being a new generation’s taste and perception of what makes a book look “collectible” (more on that later). The Franklin Library shuttered in 2000, though its main marketplace counterpart, the Easton Press (est. 1975), is still going.

Gilt-stamped leather binding of the Franklin Library edition of Lolita, 1979.

Photograph of the full gilt-stamped leather binding of the Franklin Library edition of Lolita, 1979. Credit: Type Punch Matrix.

FairyLoot was established in 2017 [6] in the UK by Anissa de Gomery and conceived in the mold of LEC and the Franklin Library: a subscription-based service providing made-collectible editions of their chosen titles. The current price point varies between $25.90/mo. and $35.90/mo. ($32.80 – $45.89 inclusive of shipping), depending on whether the subscriber chooses the “book only” option or the “care package” option. Like Franklin Library, FairyLoot does have a number of market counterparts with a similar target audience, the best known being Illumicrate, established in 2018 [7].

FairyLoot issue of Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim (2023), on top of which are two pieces of FairyLoot ephemera: one a printed copy of a letter from the author beginning “Dear FairyLoot Reader” and the other an illustrated postcard.

The major difference between FairyLoot and most earlier subscription-based services on the made-collectible model is that FairyLoot combines the made-collectible aspects of its books with the “care package” approach that has risen in prominence in the past fifteen years. LEC and Franklin Library editions were typically issued with related ephemera, whether a newsletter, a special interview, or similar, and FairyLoot does the same: even in its most bare-bones option (the “book only” choice), FairyLoot packages typically include a printed letter from the author written specially for the FairyLoot audience. But FairyLoot went much further than this, embracing the “care package” approach, recently popularized by services like Powells’s Indiespensible series [8], the first volume of which was issued in March 2008, and which typically includes some kind of locally sourced product along with the selected book and ephemera. In the “care package” approach, subscribers are paying not just for a specially selected title, but for a package filled with extras. The extras can be just about anything (one service got itself into trouble for sending out dildo-shaped soap, known in the community as Soapgate [9]). But they tend towards cozy, reading-adjacent uses: candles, socks, bookmarks, tea, the kinds of items that are sold in the non-book section of bookstores. The extras may or may not be themed in alignment with that package’s book (although, in the case of FairyLoot, they are). The care package approach was initially a way to make a subscription service feel a bit more special because the books themselves were often typical trade copies. In some of these services the books are signed (and, in the case of Indiespensible, issued with exclusive slipcases), but these markers of collectibility otherwise deviate little from the trade edition. FairyLoot combined the made-collectible model of the Franklin Library—adding many bells and whistles to the book itself—with the newly popular care package model to form one large deluxe package.

Indiespensible issue of Census by Jesse Ball (2018) with Indiespensible-exclusive slipcase
July 2023 YA FairyLoot box showing all the extra items such as stickers, socks, andbookmarks,along with the “Book of the month”

Indiespensible issue of Census by Jesse Ball (2018) with Indiespensible-exclusive slipcase (credit: Type Punch Matrix). Right: July 2023 YA FairyLoot box showing all the extra items along with the “Book of the month” (credit: FairyLoot). 

The Marketplace Equation: Supply

To use limited supply as a selling point is in the very name of the Limited Editions Club. LEC limited the number of copies created in order to keep supply demonstrably low, then emphasized that number using what is known as a limitation page, an evolution of the colophon that records information about the book’s production. LEC’s limitations were actually quite high in the beginning: typically, 1500 copies (and 2000 copies a bit later). Making limited editions financially viable does require balancing the cost of production, list price, number of copies, and expected sell-through rate; LEC judged that limitations in the low thousands would provide enough revenue to cover their costs and make a profit, while still achieving a high sell-through rate (since unsold books have only the cost and no revenue to balance it). 

Interior illustration (above) and limitation page (below) from The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche, one of 1500 copies signed and illustrated by Edmund Dulac, Limited Editions Club, 1951. Credit: Type Punch Matrix.

Illustration image in shades of green showing a person walking by a lake.
Photo of an autographed page.

Interior illustration (left) and limitation page (right) from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, one of 1500 copies signed and illustrated by Brian Keogh, Limited Editions Club, 1968. Credit: Type Punch Matrix.

There were some minor changes to LEC’s strategy over the decades, usually at the impetus of new ownership, but the biggest change in the marketplace equation did not occur until Sidney Shiff took over in 1978. Shiff started the move of the LEC to much smaller limitations (typically 300-500 copies, but with variation above and below) and charging much more per book, simultaneously justifying it by upping the production values of the items and focusing on “fine art” artists rather than book designers and illustrators.

Illustration showing an open book on a lectern with a Black congregation in the background
Photo of an autographed page

Interior illustration (left) and limitation page (right) from Genesis, one of 400 copies signed and illustrated by Jacob Lawrence, Limited Editions Club, 1989. Credit: Type Punch Matrix.

By the time the Franklin Library was established, the concept of acquiring a new made-collectible “limited edition” was well formed. So well formed, in fact, that the Franklin Library needed only gesture vaguely in the direction of a “limited edition” in order to take advantage of its collectible caché. In its earliest years (up to around 1980), Franklin Library productions would often state “A Limited Edition” on the title page—but rarely with the number of the limitation stated [10]. The Franklin Library issued a number of different limited edition “series” for their subscribers in this way, apparently using the subscription model itself as the justification for calling them “limited editions”: it is to be inferred (rightly or not) that each book in the series was limited in production according to the number of subscribers. This shift in emphasis seemed to have worked quite well: Franklin Library buyers regularly tout its limited edition status despite no idea of the number printed. As such, it is a remarkable development from the original intent of the limitation page—to indicate precisely how few copies were printed, how limited the supply. But this way the Franklin Library could, if they so chose, print a run of 200,000 copies and still call it a “limited edition”—as long as they did indeed cap the number without further reprints.

Interior image fromFranklin Library edition of 1979, Nabokov’s Lolita
Interior image from Franklin Library editions of 1979 Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain

Interior images from two Franklin Library editions of 1979, Nabokov’s Lolita (left) and Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain (right), both with “A Limited Edition” printed on the title page. Credit: Type Punch Matrix.

FairyLoot brands itself as a subscription-based model that carries not “limited editions”—but “exclusive editions.” FairyLoot does at times use a vestige of the limitation page, a leaf denoting the copy as from the “FairyLoot Edition,” although this is often printed on the title page (as with many Franklin Library books). But, also like Franklin Library books, this leaf typically does not include the number of copies printed. FairyLoot makes no explicit claims of limitation, suggesting scarcity in other ways. First, aspiring subscribers to FairyLoot are put on a Waiting List, ostensibly because FairyLoot editions are limited and one must wait for a spot. According to a 15 September 2023 article in The Bookseller by Katie Fraser [11], founder Anissa de Gomery described the FairyLoot “subscriber base [as] in ‘the thousands’.” In the same paragraph, Fraser notes that another subscription service (The Broken Binding, focused on SFF) “boasts a 15,000-person waiting list.” However, I tried three different subscriptions from Fairy Loot, and my waitlist time was never longer than 60 days [12]. My surmise is that the Waiting List is a way to play up the concept of limited supply publicly, while internally functioning to create enough lead time to know exactly how many copies to produce for each upcoming project; others have suggested that this Waiting List is a function of restrictions placed by the main publisher (e.g. Simon & Schuster) regarding how many copies a company like FairyLoot is “allowed to print” [13].

Signed title page images The Foxglove King by Hannah Whitten (2023)
Signed title page image The Curse of Saints by Kate Dramis (2023)

Title page images of two FairyLoot books. Left: The Foxglove King by Hannah Whitten (2023); right: The Curse of Saints by Kate Dramis (2023). Both are signed and include FairyLoot in their imprints; Curse of Saints also notes “Signed by the author.”

The other way that scarcity is implied—and appears to play out regularly in practice—is in their non-subscription-based line of “Exclusive Editions,” which are typically reprints of highly popular titles that buyers do not automatically receive as part of their subscription, but to which they do receive “Early Access.” If the reactions on social media are any indication, these Exclusive Editions can easily sell out within 24-48 hours of their early access announcement [14].

Two editions of Legendborn by Tracy Deonn side by side: on the left is the 2022 FairyLoot “Exclusive Edition” (slightly larger in size, with “New York Times Bestselling Author” on the front instead of Dhonielle Clayton’s blurb, and with gilt highlights); on the right is the trade first printing.

Rear flaps and pastedowns of two editions of Legendborn by Tracy Deonn side by side: the top is the trade edition, with white endpapers; the bottom is the FairyLoot Exclusive Edition, with illustrated endpapers and the FairyLoot imprint on the jacket flap. 

Rear flaps and pastedowns of two editions of Legendborn by Tracy Deonn side by side: the top is the trade edition, with white endpapers; the bottom is the FairyLoot Exclusive Edition, with illustrated endpapers and the FairyLoot imprint on the jacket flap. 

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Left: Two images of the two editions of Legendborn by Tracy Deonn side by side. The image on the left shows the bindings of the FairyLoot (leftmost) and trade first (rightmost) books, with the FairyLoot edition being lavishly stamped in gilt and featuring blue and red illustrated boards. The image on the right shows the edges of both books, with the FairyLoot (top) showing sprayed edges, including an elaborate design on the fore-edge; and the trade first (bottom) with white edges.

The Marketplace Equation: Demand

A book may be obtainable in only a few copies, but if no one cares about it, the scarcity won’t matter to its ultimate collectibility. In other words, demand is the more impactful variable in the marketplace equation. Manipulations of supply in limited and exclusive editions are there, in fact, to create yet another level of demand. But publishers of made-collectibles also seek to increase demand by incorporating design elements into the books themselves that feel novel, deluxe, or expensive: in short, special.

In the case of the LEC, this meant printing on beautiful paper; hiring respected illustrators and book designers; using a larger format; issuing books with slipcases; and adding limitation pages, many of which are signed by those involved with the book’s production.

Left: Bindings in open chemise of All Men are Brothers, translated by Pearl S. Buck; one of 1500 copies signed and illustrated by Miguel Covarrubias, Limited Editions Club, 1948. Right: Interior etching detail from Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka; one of 1500 copies signed and illustrated by José Luis Cuevas, Limited Editions Club, 1984. Credit: Type Punch Matrix.

LEC also chose primarily “classic” titles, ones that had proven their demand from centuries past. LEC was not seeking to create demand via editorial forward thinking, but by combining an appreciation for book design with established literary heavyweights.

Binding image showing a green book with white flower details
Inside cover with an illustration of a man and a woman, naked, holding handles, and a bull in between them

Exterior binding image (left), and interior illustration detail (right) from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, one of 1500 copies signed and illustrated by Hans Erni, Limited Editions Club, 1958. Credit: Type Punch Matrix.

The Franklin Library aimed for a different tone in their made-collectibles, but they still sought to signal “deluxe.” These titles have many additional attributes that distinguish them from contemporary trade publications: elaborate gilt stamping, all edges gilt, silk moiré endpapers, skeuomorphic raised bands, a silk ribbon marker, “high quality” paper, and (occasionally) new illustrations. 

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Details from the Franklin Library signed edition of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, 1979: gilt edges (left) and silk moiré endpapers (right). Credit: Type Punch Matrix.

Franklin Library produced three tiers of binding: full leather (with 22 karat gold, the ribbon marker, and the silk endpapers), quarter leather with cloth boards, and “leatherette” (which is not leather at all, but a type of cloth treated to appear like leather). In some cases, as in their famous Signed 60 series (1977-1982), they are also signed by the author [15].

Photo of an autographed page
Side image of gilded pages with a red bookmark
Photo of hardbound book red and gilded

Details from the Franklin Library signed edition of Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin, 1979: the signed leaf (top left), silk ribbon marker (top right), and raised bands (bottom). Credit: Type Punch Matrix.

While a number of their series were labeled “limited” editions, most were not first editions. Franklin Library rolled out its first  “Signed First Edition” series in 1983 with titles from authors such as Philip Roth, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Louis Auchincloss. Whether first editions or limited editions, Franklin Library explicitly advertised their products as “collectible,” as in this 1988 advertisement for their Signed First Edition Series:

Photo of a magazine page with an ad for the Signed First Edition Society. The quote above a group shot of people says "we don't sign First Editions of our newest books for just anyone."

Credit: Yesterday’s Books & Paper via Biblio.

Note the headline on the right: “build the ‘ultimate’ collector’s library,” which the ad glosses as “in leather-bound editions.” 

Like LEC, Franklin Library primarily chose titles that had already proven their demand, but they also went more contemporary, with series like that advertised above with new works from “the world’s most celebrated authors.” For a long while, “most celebrated” meant only authors of either classic or literary fiction; genre fiction was included mainly if it had reached “classic” status, as in their “Masterpieces of Mystery” series. But over the years Franklin Library did issue some works by authors of genre fiction whose works theoretically appealed to their subscribers, such as Michael Crichton and Anne Rice.

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Four photo details of the Franklin Library edition of The Baby in the Icebox and Other Short Fiction by James M. Cain, 1981. Top left: bottom edge and spine of book, showing gilt edge, ribbon marker, and gilt-stamped spine reading “First Edition” and “The Franklin Library”; top right: the book opening to show the purple silk moiré endpapers; bottom left: the limitation page calling it a “limited first edition” but without listing number of copies printed; bottom right: title page, with series name “The First Edition Society” at the top.

FairyLoot represents yet another application of the same principle: evoking the iconography of a perceived “collectible” book, but choosing entirely different traits based on their target audience’s perception of what an ideal collectible book looks like (more on that later). Founder de Gomery described the psychology of her target audience: “Once you get into that collecting superfan phase, you want the prettiest edition, you want to see the artwork, you want to see the characters brought to life,” says de Gomery. “Every part of the [book box] is bringing some of the story to life” [16].

FairyLoot editions use the same dust jacket design as the trade issue, but they add many traits exclusive to their own issue. For example, many feature a second jacket cover designed especially for the FairyLoot issue that is printed on the verso of the original jacket.

Two images of FairyLoot’s issue of Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim (2023); on the left, the original jacket design that matches the trade edition; on the right, the interior jacket design exclusive to the FairyLoot edition.

The cover image shows a white crown and a broach, with the title in purple between them
The inside of the slipcover shows the title over a dark-haired woman in profile

Two images of FairyLoot’s issue of Foxglove King by Hannah Whitten (2023); on the left, the original jacket design that matches the trade edition; on the right, the interior jacket design exclusive to the FairyLoot edition.

Most famously, FairyLoot books have “sprayed edges,” an evolution of the color topstain of many modern first editions (itself an evolution from the top edge gilt popularized in the 19th century). For the historically minded, staining all edges red or green may evoke the pulp paperbacks of the post-WWII period—but the digital technology used in creating modern sprayed edges allows for elaborate designs to be incorporated onto the edges of the book, which is often thematically tied to the content or which picks up on themes from the trade dust jacket design. 

Sprayed edges show yellow details over a green and red background
Sprayed edges show lavender flowers with a crown above them

Two images that show the sprayed edges of the books above (Spice Road, left; and Foxglove King, right).

Instagram photo showing a pile of books with sprayed edges

Instagram post of a stack of FairyLoot books showing off their sprayed edges, with kind permission from myfriendsarefiction.

These sprayed edges can be quite striking, and they are found only on special issues of these publications, not the trade issue—with the result that some collectors have taken to shelving their books’ spines-in so as to show off the sprayed edges of their special issue books. (Spine out, these copies look the same as the trade issue.) 

Instagram photo of book shelves with the sprayed edges pointing outward

Bookcase of exclusive editions from FairyLoot (and other subscription services) shelved spine-in, with kind permission from bookslovereaders.

Beyond the additional jacket design and sprayed edges, these editions include FairyLoot-exclusive endpaper designs, different from the trade issue; and elaborately stamped bindings. The style of these bindings often harkens back to the height of pictorial cloth trends from about 1880 to 1910.

Cover images of hardbound books.

Three FairyLoot issues of books showing elaborate gilt-stamping to the covers in the manner of pictorial cloth bindings from about 1880 to 1910: The Foxglove King (left), The Curse of Saints (middle), and Spice Road (right). 

Unlike most LEC and Franklin Library editions, FairyLoot subscription books are signed first editions. Like its care package predecessors such as Indiespensible, FairyLoot subscription books are not reprints, but true first editions of entirely new publications. Further—and perhaps most significantly—FairyLoot books are fantasy novels, typically with a heavy dose of romance. FairyLoot’s made-collectible model celebrates genre titles, not “classic” or “literary” ones. It is also notable that FairyLoot’s YA option was their pioneering subscription (though they also now have an “adult” option).

Return to Target Audience

What do these material decisions say about the publishers’ perceptions of their target audience?

LEC books have come to be seen as books of the “book arts” tradition, aiming for quality in all the little aspects that matter in producing a book: typography, page layout, paper choice, and the like. This interpretation of the made-collectible formula makes sense in the context of LEC’s establishment. Essentially, LEC was combining the subscription approach of its contemporary, the Book of the Month Club (founded in 1926), with the recent Fine Press movement, which was a reaction to the industrialization of the book, focusing on the fundamentals of book making as individual art forms. LEC judged that its American audience would pay for books that brought these two traits together. The target LEC audience, then, was not necessarily an already dedicated collector, but someone who would appreciate the philosophy behind the Fine Press movement without necessarily being willing to commit to the higher prices of fine presses like Kelmscott. In this, LEC once more established the foundation for the traits of the target buyer of the made-collectible: people who are attracted to books as objects, but are limited in their means to acquire them.

Franklin Library books evoke the imagery of the 19th-century British gentleman’s library. What does a 19th-century British gentleman’s library convey to a 1970s-1990s audience? Perhaps: wealth, education-informed taste, and authority. The target audience of the Franklin Library is a buyer who places value on traits like these. This audience is, by virtue of the date range of operations alone, primarily aimed at Baby Boomers, and is largely male. The ideal Franklin Library buyer appreciates the book as an object, but expects the titles and the quality of the materials to be authoritatively chosen.

FairyLoot’s audience differs from that of Franklin Library in almost every way while staying true to the principles of the made-collectible business model. Its target audience is mostly young (i.e. averaging in their 20s), mostly female, and significantly less interested in “classics” than in contemporary books that match their own reading taste. The aesthetics of FairyLoot productions don’t reference much of the 19th-century British gentleman’s library—which does not appeal as much to their target audience as it does to Franklin Library’s. Instead, FairyLoot productions reference two of the most appealing current trends among their target audience: the pictorial cloth aesthetic that dominates rare/old book Instagram, and tastes in the contemporary digital art space (which is in turn heavily influenced by manga and anime). 

The rise of FairyLoot and its cohort has been attributed to a combination of the power of social media and the isolation of the pandemic [17]. FairyLoot has over 412,000 followers on Instagram [18]. It’s worth noting that the Instagram space—and especially Bookstagram (the name of the bookish part of the platform)—is highly feminized, just as the stereotypical 19th-century British gentleman’s library is heavily masculine coded [19]. Further, while the areas of Bookstagram that overlap with rare/vintage/collectible spaces by no means ignore leatherbound aesthetics, many accounts have become popular using the aesthetic of the 1880s through the 1910s: the era of pictorial cloth bindings. Two accounts I particularly admire who work in this aesthetic are L’Escargot Papier and Honey Bee Mill Books:

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Screenshots of two Instagram posts featuring pictorial cloth bindings. Left: with kind permission from L’Escargot Papier. Right: with kind permission from Honey Bee Mill Books.

FairyLoot’s custom designs for the bindings of their exclusive editions are in direct conversation with the books of that era:

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Three images with details of the bindings of Foxglove King, Spice Road, and The Curse of the Saints: spines, gilt-stamping on front boards, and sprayed edges.

Other aspects of FairyLoot’s edition speak to parts of the contemporary digital art space that also play to a younger audience. One of the dominating trends in this space is a style heavily influenced by Japanese anime and manga. FairyLoot’s exclusive illustrations—found on endpapers, alternate jacket designs, and accompanying ephemera—often show this influence.

Photos of the endpapers of Spice Road (left), Foxglove King (middle), and the Curse of the Saints (right), all showing characters illustrated in a similar style.

The values that this combined aesthetic of FairyLoot evokes are: whimsy, trend-informed taste, and conscious appreciation of the analog. FairyLoot is, of course, the only one of the three subscription services examined in this article that was founded after the internet, and that fact is reflected in the books themselves. FairyLoot’s audience is making the conscious choice to read and purchase in an analog format as a departure, rather than as the norm for the original LEC and Franklin Library buyers.


Franklin Library and FairyLoot are applying the same market strategy learned from predecessors like LEC, while aiming at two vastly different audiences. The result is two vastly different products that, nevertheless, hold hands. The physical traits of this type of “made-collectible” book communicate much more than we often give it credit for: they indicate what the makers see as the interests and values of their target audience. When a company succeeds, it is likely because they have hit their mark by figuring out how to reflect the cultural values of their target audience in the form of a physical book. 


[1] From the LEC prospectus, quoted in Willard Goodwin, “A Very Pretty Picture M. Matisse But You Must Not Call It Joyce’: The Making of the Limited Editions Club ‘Ulysses.’” Joyce Studies Annual, Vol. 10 (Summer 1999), 87.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Francis Meynell, My Lives. New York: Random House, 1971, pp. 184-5.

[4] Goodwin above focuses on the LEC Ulysses; among the best open-access summaries is Bill Majure’s 2005 “A Brief History of The Limited Editions Club”:, which also contains a useful bibliography.


[6]  FairyLoot’s website says their “journey began in 2016”: But their legal incorporation dates to February 2017:

[7] Like FairyLoot, Illumicrate’s website implies an earlier establishment in 2015: But the company was not incorporated until February 2018:

[8] Powell’s announced its launch in January 2008; a contemporary description of the service is described in Shelf Awareness as being $39.95 per box:

[9] For a summary of Soapgate, read the 4 November 2022 post “Book Subscription Boxes: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” via Tattooed Bibliophile:

[10] One such exception is the Oxford Library of Charles Dickens (1982-1985), which has a limitation page noting that 7500 copies were printed for subscribers.

[11] Katie Fraser, “Subscription boxes help drive the rise in popularity of sci-fi and fantasy,” 15 September 2023, The Bookseller:

[12] Some have reported waiting for months, but comments on this topic at r/fairyloot suggest my wait time was typical:

[13] Sarah Mecham, “Everything You Need to Know about Book Box Subscriptions & Special Editions,” 9 July 2023, Book Cave:

[14] See FairyLoot’s note about the Legendborn Exclusive Edition, posted less than 24 hours after their earlier announcement: “’The Legendborn Cycle’ Exclusive Editions sold out during the Early Access sale. There will be no general sale today.”

[15] See the list of the Signed 60 series here:

[16] Quoted in Fraser, “Subscription boxes help drive the rise in popularity of sci-fi and fantasy”:

[17] “Book box subscriptions “blew up” during the pandemic, says Matt Holland, founder and c.e.o. of The Broken Binding,” quoted in Fraser, “Subscription boxes.”


[19] Bookstagram’s TikTok counterpart, BookTok, is also a highly feminized space.