A look at nine book subscription services — who they're for and what you get.
These days, when so many of your needs can be curated, boxed and delivered to your front door — from dinner fixings to toddler toys — why not books, too?
Book subscription services have come a long way since the original Book of the Month Club started sending out “The Sun Also Rises” in 1926. Some services offer bonuses like chocolate bars or time with a life coach.
We sampled nine book subscription services to see what readings — and other goodies — you can get with a membership.
Book of the Month Club
What you get: One BOTM-branded hardcover book of your choice from a list of titles selected by BOTM’s judges. Recent options: Madeline Miller’s “Circe,” Tayari Jones’s “An American Marriage” and Rachel Kushner’s “The Mars Room.” In most months at least one book is a BOTM exclusive (meaning the book does not publish until the following month).
Cost: $45 for a three-month subscription, with discounts for longer subscriptions.
Best for: Readers who want an early look at fiction and memoirs likely to land on the bestseller list.
Powell’s Books Indiespensable
What you get: One book and literary accoutrements selected by the staff at Powell’s, an independent bookstore in Portland. A recent box included a special signed edition of Jesse Ball’s novel “Census” in a slipcase, an embossed pamphlet featuring an interview with the author, two notebooks and an advance copy of Deborah Eisenberg’s story collection “Your Duck is My Duck.”
Cost: $45 per box. Shipments come every 6–8 weeks.
Best for: Fans of literary fiction, hipsters and supporters of independent bookstores.
What you get: There are four box types: Regular, Luxe, Bath Time or Girl Power! What’s inside is a surprise every month, but subscribers can expect a female-centric novel and cozy items such as a fancy tea bag, a chocolate bar or a scented candle. The books are new but not new releases. A recent box included an eye mask, a pair of earrings, an essential-oil-infused cleaner, a small jar of salted-caramel spread and the novel “Shoe Addicts Anonymous,” by Beth Harbison.
Cost: $25–$50 a month.
Best for: A quiet night in.
What you get: Children’s books selected by “a small team of parents, aunts and uncles.” Customers can choose boxes based on a child’s age: Board Book Box (ages 0-3), Mixed Book Box (all ages) and Picture Book Box (ages 4-7). A recent Mixed Book Box included “A Crash of Rhinos,” by Greg Danylyshyn; “Douglas, You Need Glasses!,” by Ged Adamson; “The Friend Ship,” by Kat Yeh; and stickers.
Cost: Starts at $20 per month. With each book purchased, the company donates a book to charity.
Best for: Busy parents and kids who like to be surprised with books.
What you get: “A box of sophistication.” There are two types of book boxes: Book Club and Standard. Each Book Club box contains one male-centric book (a recent choice was Junot Díaz’s novel “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”). The Standard option adds high-end grooming products and, depending on which options you choose, other accessories. A recent shipment included a paperback edition of Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men,” a Blackthorn leather notebook cover, a pocket notebook and three pencils.
Cost: $16–$45 per month. “Enhancements” such as sunglasses and dress socks are extra.
Best for: Men who consider themselves cultured yet still “want to improve themselves.”
Go Love Yourself!
What you get: A self-help book along with tools — a workbook, access to a webinar — to achieve personal betterment goals. A recent box included products focused on restfulness: a “Beauty of Sleep” candle, a tin of herbal tea, an eye mask and a coupon for an online restorative yoga class — also a copy of “The Sleep Revolution,” by Arianna Huffington.
Cost: The Essentials box is $30 per month. For $50 per month, the Go Love Yourself! box includes “yummy self-care items” and group coaching.
Best for: Your yoga buddies, your stressed-out best friend, optimists.
My Lit Box
What you get: Curated by Sanura Williams, an L.A.-based book aficionado, My Lit Box focuses on writers of color. Customers can select from two options: Book Only or Full Box (either option can focus on “Adult Fiction,” “YA Lit” or “Black Women Lit”). A recent Full Box included “These Violent Delights,” by Victoria Namkung and a tote bag emblazoned with the word “Resist.”
Cost: My Lit Box ships every three months. The Book Only option is $15 per shipment; the Full Box is $25 per shipment.
Best for: Bibliophiles looking for a diverse reading list and gear that advertises that passion.
What you get: A crash course in business advice. Co-founder Tai Lopez says he started Mentor Box so “you could get twice the reading done in half the time.” A recent box included “Thinking in Bets,” by Annie Duke, and “The School of Greatness,” by Lewis Howes, cheat sheets that offer a “30-second summary” of each book, two “memorization booklets” and a USB flash card loaded with videos and audiobook “nuggets.” Members have access to a private MasterMind Facebook group to discuss what they’ve learned.
Cost: $1,499 per year or $139 per month.
Best for: People who listen to TED Talks on double-speed while reading a book on the treadmill.
Bad People Book Club
What you get: A “badass” book, loosely defined as a book “with a subversive plot and message, or a book that was banned at one time.” You also get a cocktail recipe inspired by the book, the nonalcoholic ingredients to make the cocktail and a reader’s guide with suggestions such as “Write a Tinder bio for one of the characters.” A recent box featured Zadie Smith’s “Swing Time,” a recipe for a “sankofa bird cocktail,” a can of ginger beer, tonic water and sparkling grapefruit juice. For jovial book chats, there’s a podcast and blog.
Cost: Starts at $35 per month.
Best for: A girl’s night in that feels like a night out.