These days, there seems to be a subscription service for everything.
Beauty products. Period products. Mental health support kits. Kiddie toys. General lifestyle.
Really, a book club was a natural progression, when you think about it.
Now, subscription services have been around for long enough for hype to build up, then die, then kind of plateau. Once upon a time, it was The Thing, until we realised we were paying for a bunch of samples that a company couldn’t otherwise move, and we were better off streamlining our lives, Mari Kondo style. (Which is now experiencing its own backlash. Plus ça change…) At the end of the day, it’s a question of whether it is something for you, and whether you want to spend the money on it.
So is a book subscription service for you?
First things first, as I’ve experienced it, this service doesn’t cheat the customer on price – the novels I got were brand new, in pristine condition, so they were worth as much as they would if I bought them at Waterstones. They came wonderfully wrapped within their proper mailing packaging. (As you can see, it was the Willoughby book club.) According to the website, in addition to the books and the swag, every purchase also gets a book donated to Book Aid International, which I like.
When we are thinking about the cost of this service versus something you would get on a whim on Amazon, Amazon might seem cheaper, especially if you get all three books at once so that you can qualify for their shipping. BUT! Amazon isn’t a personalised service, and thus does not incur any of the associated costs. And if you are someone who cares about sustainable buying and supporting small businesses… well, you know what I would choose.
Of course, the most obvious selling point to a book subscription is the element of surprise. Unfortunately, that means if you hate surprises (or you’re buying a gift for somebody who hates surprises) you are better off going to a bookstore and picking out something yourself. I will say, as someone who has read quite widely, I was worried I’d get doubles. And I did – once. But the customer service was excellent and sent me a replacement within the week. And they let me keep the one I had a double of, to hand off to a friend.
I don’t know whether all services do that, but it is worth mentioning if it is a concern of yours.
So who is this for, then?
People who want to discover new authors.
People who might want to discover a new genre.
People who want to introduce their children and teenagers to some varied literature.
People who want to give a present to somebody they know very well. (You do have to give them a hint about what to send to them.)
People who just plain like to read, anything and everything.
People who like a personalised approach.
People who like an element of surprise.
People who actually have time to read.
Aside from that double I got sent, all the books I got were new to me and I enjoyed reading them. I also got a discount off my first order, and was offered a discount for renewal within a certain date. As far as my experience goes, it was an A+++.
So why haven’t I renewed it? Moving. I’m moving again. (Makes whining noises.) And much as I would love to buy all of the books, new and old, I do actually have to read up as much of my TBR as possible and make space for my move – a slow venture as the PhD is kicking my arse. See… I believe books should be enjoyed, at their own time. And because I’m so busy, I haven’t even gotten to the last book I was sent (pictured above) which is a crying shame because it sounds awesome.
Maybe next year.
Once the dust settles down.
If I’ve captured your interest, the Willoughby Book Club has actually sent me an affiliate link, which you can use to get 10% off their site. DISCLAIMER: If you do end up buying a certain amount on their website, I get paid. If you don’t like that and don’t want to use affiliate links, here is one to the website that won’t link back to me.
(Don’t ever tell me I’m not transparent, people.)
Have you tried one of those services before? What was your experience? Share in the comments for people to know.