Treat Yo’ Shelf: Book Subscription Services

Every year as my birthday approaches, friends and family ask me, without fail, for gift ideas. My response is always a cryptic, “Books and book-related things.” Unfortunately, this answer invokes dread in my loved ones who fear searching through endless choices for the perfect new read. They doubt whether I’ll like what they pick and worry that I’ll scoff at the popular books about which everyone else raves. Mostly, they wonder if I’ve already read everything. Luckily, several subscription services present perfect, panic-free ideas that can ease the pressure of shopping for the book lover in your life (or, you know, if you just want to treat yourself to a monthly surprise).

The GirlsFor tastemakers, Book of the Month Club gives subscribers a choice of one hardcover each month from five selections. Books such as Emma Cline’s The Girls or Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies are curated by the club’s panel of Judges, which has included Whoopi Goldberg, Craig Ferguson, and Roxanne Gay. With new titles announced on the first of the month, subscribers have six days to choose their book. Memberships are offered in installments of a single month for $16.99, three months for $14.99, or 12 months for $11.99. After their initial selection, members can choose to add extra books for $9.99 each. If you’re new to subscriptions, BOTM is a low-commitment way to discover hot new reads beyond the bestseller lists.

The DoorFor cool coffeehouse reads, NYRB Classics Book Club offers one paperback per month, selected from their newest titles of literature in translation and rediscovered classics. Choices can range from Hav by Welsh transgender author Jan Morris, The Door by censored Hungarian novelist Magda Szabo, or Zama by Argentine existentialist Antonio do Benedetto. This cost-effective means of exploring the expansive NYRB library comes in either a six-month or one-year plan. US subscriptions are $85 or $150, while Canadian prices are $157 or $294, and international plans are $185 or $365. As a bonus perk, the one-year membership includes a free copy of Honoré de Balzac’s The Unknown Masterpiece!

The GunFor a passport to global crime fiction, Soho Press International Crime Club features one hardcover new release each month. Recent picks have included Japanese author Fuminori Nakamura’s The Gun and Danish writing duo Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis’s The Considerate Killer. Readers can choose between a print subscription for $17.99 per month or digital for $9.99. Also, membership offers additional perks such as 50% off select backlist titles and discounted prices in their online store. Monthly shipments sometimes include complimentary Soho Crime products, which range from extra paperbacks or paraphernalia related to each month’s pick, like an air freshener to combat the pungent material in Lisa Brackmann’s The Go-Between.

Charcoal JoeFor vicarious detectives, The Mysterious Bookshop has created seven Crime Clubs, ranging from The First Mystery Club to The Hard Boiled & Noir Club to the Thriller & Espionage Club. Members receive one signed first edition hardcover each month, and block pricing starts at $99 for three months, $198 for six months, and $396 for a full year. The service started with the original Crime Collectors Club, which recently featured bestsellers by Alan Furst and Walter Mosley. Since then, the service has expanded as far as the Unclassifiable Club, in which selections by Michael Chabon and Joyce Carol Oates transcend the mystery genre.

ConfusionFor a mix of classic and contemporary literature, Pushkin Press offers UK readers a £95.00 yearly subscription package that includes 25% off anything in the Pushkin Collection and a bonus copy of the novella Confusion by famed Austrian author Stefan Zweig. If you fear the commitment of an entire year, there’s also a three-month Taster subscription for £30.00, which includes a copy of “Dear Reader,” a publishing satire by French poet and publisher Paul Fournel.

With the increasing popularity of bookish subscription services, shopping for the book lover in your life (or yourself) should be much easier!

Samantha Irby and Robin Sloan talk about their favorite books in our newest podcast, Recommended. Download it for free from Apple Podcasts or Google Play.