Book Clubs Frequently Asked Questions
What is a book club?
A book club is a commercial (usually mail order) enterprise through which selected books are sold directly to the public at a price significantly below the recommended retail price, often in return for a commitment to buy a particular number of books over an agreed period of time.
How do book clubs work?
There are two basic types of book clubs: commitment book clubs and continuity book clubs.
Commitment book clubs feature attractive introductory offers containing several books for a symbolic price (for example 5 books for 99¢ or 4 books for 1$ each) in exchange for a commitment to buy a few more books at the regular club price within a certain timeframe; usually this means 2-4 books within a year or so. The club price incorporates a considerable discount, which can be anywhere from 30-50%, in some cases even more.
Commitment book clubs send their members a catalog (either printed or electronic version) every 3-4 weeks, along with a card which includes the title of the Featured Selection – a book chosen by the club's editors as a must-read of the moment. Members are not bound to buy the Selection though; they can opt for a different book (or several books) instead, or skip the offer altogether. Note that the Selections are no longer shipped to members automatically, as was the case until recently; now, members need to request/order the desired book.
Continuity book clubs are subscription based operations in which members receive a pre-selected book or several books each month – usually from a specific genre or a part of a series – until the membership expires or is canceled. To prospective members a certain number of free books are often offered at the beginning to sweeten the deal or entice them to join.
Which type of a book club should I consider?
That depends on your preferences. Being a member of a commitment book club is, to an extent, like shopping at an online retailer. The selection is similar: you can choose from a wide range of latest bestsellers from all genres and among all the popular authors such as John Grisham, Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel, Stephen King, Sylvia Browne etc. You do receive recommended reads on a regular basis, but are not required to follow them – what you buy and don't buy is purely your own choice.
Continuity book clubs don't let you choose books yourself; instead, you will be shipped a themed book or several books each month, in tune with the specific club's offering. For example, if you're into romance books you can opt to receive romantic suspense books, historical romances, medical romances etc. These types of clubs work best for avid readers who enjoy books from a particular genre, and for people who lack the time or desire to shop for new titles on a regular basis. The shipments will often be composed of books that are not available elsewhere, so exclusivity is also part of the appeal.
Which clubs are most popular?
The largest and most prominent is probably Doubleday Book Club. It's specialty is popular fiction, with a slight penchant towards women's prose. The Literary Guild is another very popular bestseller book club, as is Crossings Book Club which offers a broad selection of Christian books. Many specialty book clubs such as Black Expressions, Mystery Guild, Science Fiction Book Club, seem to be quite fashionable too.
How can book clubs offer books at such low prices?
Several reasons. First, book clubs market the goods directly to you, the customer; by avoiding the middle man they are able to save a considerable amount. Furthermore, they cut their own deals with publishers, in order to pay smaller royalties etc. Finally, book clubs print the books at their own facilities, which lowers the production costs further.
Are book club editions different from regular books?
They are identical in terms of content and artwork: same words, same covers. However, they can be altered in size or printed on less expensive paper to achieve additional savings. They may also have a “book club edition” mark on the inside flap. Such editions are generally considered to have a lower resale value.
Do book clubs offer a satisfaction guarantee?
Yes, invariably. All the clubs offer some sort of returning policy, usually at their expense, in case the customer is unhappy with their merchandise/service.
Can I join more than one book club?
Absolutely. There is no reason why not. The clubs certainly won't mind.