Posted by: biblioglobal | February 21, 2015

Treating myself to a book subscription

I’ve promised myself that when I finish graduate school my present to myself is going to be a book subscription- a surprise book in the mail every month. I’m not quite done with my degree yet, but I can’t help starting to look around and consider the options.

There are a bunch of book subscriptions that send out the same book to all of their members. Some of those seem interesting, but what is really tempting me are the handful that promise to pick out a book tailored to your specific tastes.

I first came across the idea when I read about A Year in Books from Heywood Hill bookstore. I hadn’t previously heard of Heyward Hill, but it’s apparently quite a famous and historic bookstore in London. Its subscription service seems to match that in terms of elegance and price. They, like with Daunt Books, another London bookstore with a subscription service, promise a personal interview about your tastes and interests. Daunt Books seems to specialize in international books, so that might be a good match for me!

On the other hand, it seems sort of silly to pay for the extra postage from the Britain to the U.S. if there are U.S. based subscriptions.

The first U.S. subscription I found, Just the Right Book, just doesn’t feel as personalized as the British ones. You just fill out an online form when you sign up for a subscription.

Digging a little more, I have managed to find one more American option- Paperback to the Future. It’s based out of an independent bookstore in New Hampshire and seems to be run by just one person. It promises lesser known books, often from small presses, which sounds interesting [Update July 2015: the link no longer seems to work, so I’m not sure if the bookstore is still doing this or not].

It’s so hard to know what to choose! I’m really enjoying imagining these books showing up at my door though. I know I won’t love every book, but I’m dreaming of the surprise of a book picked out just for me, by an expert bookseller. I don’t ever seem to get books for presents anymore, so it seems extra exciting.

Does the idea of a personalized book subscription sound like something you would like? Have you ever tried a book subscription service? Do you know of others besides the ones I’ve listed here?



  1. I just joined an online book club at the Rumpus book blog. Here’s the address. You pay a certain fee, and they send you a surprise book every month and then people in the club converse about the book. At the end of the month there is a virtual “book club” about the book. I joined it because they pick brand new books before they become “hot.” I thought it would be a good way to keep up on new publications as well as having a community to discuss them.

    I just started it and am just getting into the first book, so I can’t really comment yet on how it’s working for me, but I thought I’d bring it to your attention in case it sounds intriguing to you!

    • That one does sound intriguing. I like the idea that they facilitate a conversation about the book. I’ll be interested to hear how you like it.

  2. In theory I like the idea, but getting 12 more books to read when I have SO many on my shelves already is kind of terrifying. I was overwhelmed with the one Book Riot box I got that had four books in it!

    • I do worry about that a little bit too! I think I just have to make sure to be forgiving of myself if I build up a backlog.

  3. I think these subscription services are so cool! I’m sort of nervous to take the plunge though…for many of the same reasons Geoff mentioned. I also have this silly fear that I might not really like any of the books, which I guess is unlikely since I rarely have a super negative reaction to a book. I really like this idea though, and the idea of gifting yourself with something when you graduate! It’s a long haul to the end, no?

    • It is a long haul, but I’m getting there! I’m sure there will be books I don’t like, but I think I have fairly eclectic tastes, so I’m not too worried that I won’t like *any* of them. I’m very curious to see what books someone would pick out for me. Will they be things that I already wanted to read? Or things that aren’t on my radar screen at all? (I kind of hope for the latter…)

  4. I subscribed to the NYRBs for a year and they send me a new book every month. Not personally selected, but each book was really good and never failed to impress. I decided to not renew because I had a hard time keeping up with them and still have a couple unread. It was fun though!

    • NYRB’s subscription is one of the not-personally-selected subscriptions that looked most appealing to me. (One of their most recent books is The Door by Magda Szabo, which I loved.) I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it! My guess is that I probably won’t be able to keep up either and will just subscribe for one year and then catch up afterwards.

  5. It’s a lovely idea but like everyone else I fear not being able to keep up and the books just piling up. For the same reason I have never ordered one of those vegetable boxes….

    • Heh, we get vegetable boxes too! Luckily BiblioBoyfriend is a creative cook and we manage not to let too much go to waste. If it was me doing the cooking, we’d have problems. The good thing about books is that, unlike vegetables, they don’t go bad!

  6. I’ve honestly never heard about such subscriptions, but after reading this I find it a fantastic idea! Sounds like the perfect present. I would definitely try it out, although I’ve already subscribed to.. myself. I can barely spend 2 weeks without raiding one bookstore or another… I should probably stop that subscription, before I go and make another one.
    I’m very interested to know which one you choose, though! And I’m also very curious about the books you’ll get. I hope you tell us more in your future posts 🙂

    • Ha, I love the idea of being subscribed to yourself! I, oddly enough, am not subscribed to myself. I tend to resist buying books because I tell myself that I can probably get them at the library. Maybe that’s part of the reason why this seems so appealing- if I sign up for a subscription, I can’t talk myself out of buying the books!

  7. If I had money, I’d choose the Year in a Book subscriptions. Even if I had to pay additionally for the package sent to my country.

    I don’t know book subscriptions in Poland nowadays. I found some e-book subscriptions and business book subscriptions, but I’m not interested in that.

    Btw, I have found some interesting books/writers from some countries you haven’t covered yet. I glanced at some fragments of Jamaican book and it sounds really nice/interesting. Norwegian book had very good opinion.

    If I’ll find some nice books, I’ll share again. Cheers.

    • The Year In Books does look beautiful doesn’t it? It’s time for me to actually make up my mind and sign up for one of them. I still can’t decide though!

      I’d be interested to hear about the Jamaican book. I haven’t picked a book for Jamaica yet.

      • Yes, it does. The Jamaican book is written by Kei Miller.

  8. do you mind checking your link to the paperback to the future subscription? the link does not work. I went to that website homepage and on their About page, but they don’t mention this subscription. do they still do it??

    • You’re right, it does seem to have disappeared. Maybe they aren’t doing it anymore. If you are interested, it might be worth contacting them to see. I ended up going with a subscription from Daunt Books and just got my first book this week!

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