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The Editor's Choice This Month is......


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Anyone got any good or bad experiences with book clubs - not reading groups, but those nice mail order people who offer you books for 17p each, providing you buy another 30 at full price during the next four weeks..... well, you know the sort of thing.

 

I've belonged to the same one a couple of times, but after a while I get fed up of having to send back the Editors Choice which they kept sending me because I forgot to post back that wretched form, saying that I really DIDN'T want it this month. TSP or The Softback Preview, I think it was called - it was better than some, in that there wasn't a minimum number of purchases. You could just take the initial offer, belong to it for a year, and then leave again.

 

Anyone a big fan of these things? Or do you loath them with great passion?

 

Are any of the much more specialist ones any good?

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That was exactly my experience of TSP, Claire. As you say, not a bad outfit, as such, and I bought a number of good titles from them at very reasonable prices. It was the editor's choice that was the killer, though. I was generally angry with myself, to be honest, for not crossing the relevant box, but also became disillusioned at the tactic on their part to exploit this basic motor skills failure on the part of their members. Why not tick to receive the editor's choice? Obviously I've answered my own question.

 

If a mailing coincided with being on holiday you were also caught out and eventually I was just fed up with the constant arrival of their literature. I also joined them a second time, making use of their promotional offer, but for all the same reasons left off again several years back.

 

I have just returned an acceptance of the Folio Society's introductory offer of some pretty good reference books for a tenner (worth nearly £200 - includes things like the Times Atlas of the World). I've got to buy 4 full-priced books by next March, but I daresay they'll have enough good titles to make that worthwhile. That's my only experience of such clubs. If the intro deal's good enough I think they're worth flirting with for a while, but I don't feel inclined to stay for a long-term relationship. ;)

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I used to belong to the FSF bookclub (part of world books as so many are) and it was great until they changed their delivery system last year and everything went crazy. Books never arrived or were delivered twice. The courier left a card saying phone this no. with no number, then left one with a number either engaged or answer phone. I cancelled.

 

TSP provided me with my Chambers dictionary and I had no other contact from them!!

 

Now I tend to use The Book People or search through Kelkoo or similar for best price. I usually spend enough to make postage free :D Amazon usually.

 

 

FSF = Fantasy and Science Fiction

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I really do 'loathe with passion' the book groups you are apeaking of. Basically i think that they prevent you from getting up and going out with the sole purpose of finding a good read, after all how are these multinational companies expected to be able to find that one perfect book that will make you laugh/ cry / cherish it forever?! The answer is they can't.

:)

x x x

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But I loved the FSF because I was able to buy books I enjoyed, many I still have, at a reduced price and get notification of the publication of a book to complete a set or a new one by a loved author. It didn't stop me looking and buying elsewhere AS WELL :rolleyes:

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I've been a member of QPD twice. On both occasions I was tempted by the initial offer, lots of newly released books in p/b format and then I bought just enough books to fulfil the contractual obligations. They let you have an online account so that it's easy to refuse the editor's choice, which I always did.

 

One thing that annoyed me about them was that although they are called 'Quality Paperbacks Direct', many of their books were hardback.

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When I was young, my mum was a member of the Red House, and we got books from there regularly for years and years. They always seemed competitive with price and I don't remember any problems with delivery - they came in a normal package via Royal Mail or occassionally with White Arrow couriers, the local delivery person also lived next door which was a bonus! Even after myself and my brother grew out of RH Mum kept using it for presents for a long time.

 

I have also bought from the Book People occassionally - never in my own name though - just adding things onto colleagues orders. They have some great offers too, but I don't want to contact them myself as there is clearly not enough time to read all the books I would want to buy.

 

I agree with Mrs Dalloway as well - its nice to browse in a bookshop/library and see the books for real before you decide to buy them (although I often look and then go home and look online for a better price!!!). Bookclubs seem to have the same mentality as supermarkets selling books.

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I belonged to the World Record Club over 30 years ago, and had the problems that were associated with them and the World Book Club at the time; namely getting records that you don't want because you missed the date for cancelling the Record of the Month. I got fed up with that and cancelled my membership.

 

Then in the '80s I was in 'The Cookery Book Club', which operated on the same principle, but most months there was some book I fancied, so that wasn't too much of a problem. Eventually I had to leave because there was no space left in that particular bookcase.

 

I joined QPDa few years ago, but left as soon as the contractual obligations were fulfilled, as I didn't like the large format, which were heavy to post to my bookgroup, and messed up the organisation of my bookshelves.

 

I am currently in the Brittania Classical music club. which I joined to get a complete collection of G&S Operettas (by my favourite D'Oyley Carte Company from the days of my youth) for a ridiculously low price. As their range includes 'classics' in a much wider sense, and I had next to no CDs, it has been a happy arrangement so far. There is an editors recommendation, but you don't get it unless you order it, and there is a whole catalogue of choices each month. I have bought Vera Lynne (for work), and monologues by Stanley Holloway (The Lion And Albert etc.) as well as albums by such as Kathleen Ferrier or John Williams. I'm well on the way to fulfilling my quota of 'regular price' CDs, but I think I will continue afterwards, as I'm happy with the service so far.

 

I joined 'Red House' in its early days, and preferred it then as the books were personally vetted by the parents who set it up. I still get the occasional clutch of books from them (usually towards Christmas time), but there is no obligation to buy anything. Nor is there to buy from The Book People. They are just book catalogue companies, not clubs in the same way as the ones referred to in the OP.

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I have just returned an acceptance of the Folio Society's introductory offer of some pretty good reference books for a tenner (worth nearly £200 - includes things like the Times Atlas of the World). I've got to buy 4 full-priced books by next March, but I daresay they'll have enough good titles to make that worthwhile. That's my only experience of such clubs. If the intro deal's good enough I think they're worth flirting with for a while, but I don't feel inclined to stay for a long-term relationship. ;)

 

I'd be interested in hearing how you get on with the Folio Society, David. I always linger over the flyers when they fall out of the Radio Times! I love the fact that the books look so beautifully made and I'm hankering after their set of Hans Christian Anderson and The Brothers Grimm and a couple of others.

 

I guess what has put me off so far is that I don't really know what they have in the rest of their selection and whether many of them will appeal to me or not - plus, I fear that they may be rather pricey, once the initial offer has been bought. Anyone else ever been a member?

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My partner belongs to the Folio Society and we have received the Atlas - it is truly massive!! Didn't know it would be so large. Beautifully bound, too. Don't know the particulars of the deal so can't shed any light on the satisfaction, or lack thereof, with the whole thing. But, since financial acumen is a strong suit - it must be a pretty good deal!

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When I was young, my mum was a member of the Red House, and we got books from there regularly for years and years. They always seemed competitive with price and I don't remember any problems with delivery - they came in a normal package via Royal Mail or occassionally with White Arrow couriers...

My mum was a member too! We mostly used it for buying presents I think, although I'd read the catalogues cover to cover hunting for books I wanted for my birthday, Christmas etc. Now I tend to use Amazon for browsing for new books and for keeping updated on new releases from my favourite authors. I find this a really useful way to browse cos you can save a link or email it to someone if they've asked what to buy you - much better than seeing a book in a shop and not being able to remember what it was when you get home or next time you're shopping! Saying that Waterstones is still one of the few shops I've spent well over an hour in in one go... :D

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  • 2 weeks later...

Surprisingly, 28 days have not yet passed, but this morning my Folio Society books arrived - huge box, Parcel Force man warning me, "It's heavy!" (Actually, wasn't that bad; Parcel Force man expecting unforthcoming sympathy)

 

The books are great. I have a big Penguin Encyclopedia, the Oxford Book of Quotations, Times Atlas of the World (though not the really big one I've seen in bookshops), Dictionary of History, Biographical Dictionary, leather-bound Compact Oxford Dictionary and matching thesaurus. Oh, also the Folio society diary 2006, which is rather lavishly illustrated with Eastern artwork.

 

These are all big hardback books (well, not the diary, obviously) and of very high quality. I'm pleased with them and it's pretty good value for a tenner! (plus £4.00 postage)

 

I've just made my selection of the four books I have to buy as a consequence. In fact I only need to buy two now and two more before March, but if I buy all four now I can get an excellent set of 3 books on myths & legends for a fiver (originally £45).

 

The books available are, of course, not cheap. The cheapest is about £16 and the most expensive are over £50. There's classic fiction, anthologies, reference material and quite a lot of scholarly work, mostly relating to history and other cultures. No Dan Brown! Certainly enough to choose four of interest (I only chose one of the more expensive books - a beautiful and interesting-looking work on Shakespeare and his time with plenty of art plates). I don't intend to purchase any others, but I think it has been more than worth it for what I have received. There's also a magazine which I haven't received yet which is meant to have a lot of interesting material about literature in it.

 

My membership lasts just a year, so presumably if I choose not to re-join I won't be pestered by more book offers.

 

Hope that helps if you're ever tempted by their promotions!

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It is very tempting, I know, Elfstar! It depends what your needs are, really. I badly needed some better/more up-to-date reference books and so the offer suited me nicely. If you're already well-stocked in that department then it might not be so useful. If you need more detailed information about the offer and the books from which you have to choose then do ask! :)

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As my two older sons have just started secondary school I feel a great shortage of reference books coming on.I do own 2 reasonable dictionaries and a Times Atlas of the World (Ithink it was RRP £60 and I paid £15) but I can always do with more up to date ones. I am VERY tempted by one of the art books and by a couple of others. With 4 children in the house, 1 copy of anything seems scant for homework etc. My book expenditure far outruns anything else (except possibly my gym membership) and gives me far more pleasure than anything else.....although I love my new nail varnish :rolleyes: I don't think you can ever have enough books, especially ones that are beautiful as well as useful. My last great temptation (resisted) was an art book in Oxfam but at £25 I thought it too expensive. It wasn't in great condition either. The Folio Society look to be doing some very beautiful editions.

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Thanks for the info, David. Enjoy your new arrivals!

 

David, I have found that really interesting and am off to see if they have a web site. Thank you for updating. Only thing that worries me is Parcelforce........

 

elfstar, you're a genius, (or at least, slightly cleverer than I am :rolleyes: ) It never occurred to me to see if they had a website.

 

Beautiful books and many are ones I would love to own and read. But on our current budget - sadly too expensive :(

 

(But maybe, when I get a job....... :) )

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I usually manage to resist the nail varnish. And as for gym membership... :eek:

 

Anyway, post back if you give in! ;)

 

 

Actually its more of a leisure thing :D When not post operative as I am AGAIN (3 times for basically the same thing) or it's not school holidays, I go to swim, steam and jacuzzi (gossip optional) and find it really makes me feel better and gives me more energy,and better skin!

 

Still thinking about beautifully bound books..........

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I also suffered brain malfunction, Claire, and didn't think of their having a website! Having now gone to check it out I ought to point out that my offer wasn't quite the same as the ones there. My package was like their 'essential reference library', only a little better, with different editions, including very much superior dictionary and thesaurus. My offer came through with my university magazine (along with the half-rainforest of other promotions!), so if any readers get such publications and are interested it might be worth waiting for that.

 

Hope you're soon able to get back to the 'gym' (ahem!), Elfstar! :D

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A friend of mine is a member of the folio society and I sneaked a purchase via them of a silk bound edition of Jane Austen's letters.. veeery nice.. sigh.. the classic illustrated children's literature offer interests me too because I love Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac's illustrations.. and I always have to resist quite hard not to send off for them. Only lack of funds usually does.. I'll crack one day I know I will. The Jane Austen was ehem.. £35.. but fortunately for me my friend is rubbish at banking cheques and doesn't ever seemed to have done it despite my frequent reminders. Sillybilly. I also got the complete folio soc. box set of Austen novels in hardback for £10 in a second hand shop - bargin!

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