Everything You Need to Know About the Book of the Month Club

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You may have heard by now of a little something called the Book of the Month Club. Or, maybe you were already aware of BOMC—after all, it’s been around for ninety years. But whether you’re familiar with the concept or you’re just hearing about it for the first time, it’s worth your while to give BOMC another look. As of this year, they’ve revamped their subscription service online, and for anyone who considers themselves a bookworm, there’s a lot to like.

Book of the Month Club has been around since 1926 when it was first launched as a mail-order business by Harry Scherman, an advertising copyeditor. Because people in the 1920s didn’t have easy access to bookstores like we do today, BOMC was wildly popular. That is, until the 1960s when retail bookstores like Barnes & Nobel started becoming more common, selling books at discount prices. Around this time, too, paperbacks became widespread, providing yet another, cheaper option than BOMC for avid readers. Still, the company has persisted in various forms through the last century. Nowadays, most people subscribe to some offshoots, like the Children’s Book of the Month, or various genre themed options.

The way the business works today, once a month a brand new hardcover copy is delivered right to your doorstep. In preparation for this moment, every month a panel of special Book of the Month judges read a bunch of new books right off the presses so they can carefully select four of the best. Because of the judge system and the choice of four books, readers are guaranteed to read something they’ll love. Not to mention the selections often include current big name authors. In the past, some of the selections have included Ernest Hemingway and J. D. Salinger, and more recently, Amy Schumer’s The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo and Zadie Smith’s new novel Swing Time. When you set up a subscription, you can set up genre preferences, so the service will automatically choose which book it thinks you’ll like best. But you’re not stuck with that pick—you have a week from the day the titles of the four options are released to decide to change your selection before the book ships. And, if you’re really not invested in any of the choices for the month, you get a one month skip, your subscription expiration date automatically extending another month.

So hopefully by now you’re thinking that this sounds a little too good to be true—discovering a great, new hardcover book every month that just conveniently shows up to where I live? How much must this thing cost? It’s a surprisingly good deal, actually, which should mean a lot coming from a broke college student. If you buy a 12-month subscription, each book will only cost $11.99 with free shipping. Considering most new hardcover books usually cost around $25 or $35 dollars, this is an almost unbelievable bargain.

The original premise for the business was that book lovers do no read as many books as they intend to, and so signing up for a monthly subscription provides motivation to keep on top of growing reading lists. Then and now, convenience is also a huge advantage. Granted, going to the bookstore is like heaven for book lovers, but there’s also a lot material to sift through to find something you’ll like, not to mention making the trip when your schedule is packed with real life responsibilities. Having only four books to choose from, plus having your choice sent right to your door is like receiving a gift every month, one that will keep giving in its pleasure of rereading, sharing with friends, and engaging in thoughtful conversations. In the end, the Book of the Month Club is really just about cracking open a nice hardcover copy of one of the best new works of our time and discovering what there is to find.

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