FairyLoot, the U.K.–based fantasy book subscription box service, has seen significant growth in recent years, and is gearing up to launch a revamped website this month. Cofounded in 2016 by Anissa de Gomery and Michael Sammer with just £4,000, the company has grown to ship tens of thousands of subscription boxes per month worldwide, with strong customer bases in the U.K., the U.S., France, and Germany.

"We started as a young adult subscription box, which had a lot of items that came with the box," Gomer said, "We've basically segmented it into a few different subscriptions now. We've got the young adult, adult fantasy to appeal to people 18 and over, and we just launched a romantasy subscription this year."

Gomery observed that, with romantasy “populating the charts everywhere,” the company has been prescient in choosing titles for its box. “As soon as we start to see things get buzzy—on BookTok, for example—we'll pick it up as well, or keep an eye on that author," Gomery said. As a result, she noted, “I don't think we've missed the Sunday Times list once.” It helps, Gomery added, that the size of FairlyLoot's subscriber base means that any book picked for one of its subscription boxes is "pretty much guaranteed" to become a bestseller.

Accordingly, the company has developed strong relationships with publishers, who Gomery said now consult with the company as part of their publishing and marketing strategy. “Agents sometimes bring books to us pre-acquisition in order to gauge interest,” she added, “which can help boost advances for authors.”

The past April's YA box, for example, was called ”Dark Domains” and included an exclusive redesigned copy of Darker by Four by June CL Tan, with a digitally signed author letter bound into the book, as well as Darker By Four bag, a set of Tarot cards, and more. The book was a #1 Sunday Times bestseller in the U.K.

Sales have exploded tenfold at FairyLoot since 2020, which Gomery attributes to people having “rediscovered” reading during pandemic lockdowns. Social media promotion, she added, has also fueled subscriptions “So many people who were traditionally non-readers just picked up one book on a whim one day—but then once they started, they couldn’t stop,” she said.

In addition to the subscription boxes, FairyLoot has found success selling special hardcover editions of backlist fantasy titles. Releasing two per week, sometimes in sets of three, these special editions feature custom covers, stained edges, endpapers, and more. Selling for around £25–30, they are often exclusive to the company.

FairyLoot now has a team of 30 employees, comprising mostly women age 25–35. That includes a full-time reader dedicated to evaluating new manuscripts—although Gomery points out that “our staff are all readers, so we don’t miss much,” adding: “If a fair number of people within the team start to have a little bit of a fervent love for the book, then we kind of go with it.”

Gomery, who is originally from Thailand and has a Belgian father and Thai mother, noted that, in recent years, she has seen a growing interest from western publishers in increasing the breadth of their fantasy lists, which for decades have lived under the long shadow of J.R.R. Tolkien. She added that the proliferation of fantasy in translation, especially from East Asian countries, in western markets is an effort to meet growing demand for diverse voices in the genre—a demand FairyLoot also works to meet with its selections.

Competition from other book boxes has not slowed FairyLoot down. The company has built a massive social media following, and its half a million Instagram followers outnumber those of any other book retailer on the platform aside from Barnes & Noble and Book of the Month. “We've always been very in touch with our community,” Gomery said in way of explanation for the success, “and very creative with our content.”

Looking ahead, FairyLoot is readying to launch its revamped website, which will showcase a more user-friendly design and a number of new features—among them, a customized digital bookshelf displaying the titles each customer has purchased from FairyLoot.

As an Asian woman entrepreneur in an industry still often perceived as very white and elitist, Gomery sees encouraging signs of progress. “We've achieved some incredible things—things that I wake up each day and I'm like, ‘I can't believe this is my life,’” she said. “It's changed a lot. There's a lot of new readers and a lot of new books coming out every month.” She added: “Growing up, The English books I read never had main characters that were Asian or biracial, so it makes me incredibly happy to able to see myself in the characters in fantasy novels. The thing that I'm most happy about is how diverse it has become.”