First off, the good. If you're like me and you're a member of point earning websites like My Points or Swagbucks (and seriously, why aren't you-a few minutes of your time for free money? I just cashed in enough points for $25 Amazon gift card from Swagbucks and a $10 Lowes gift card from My Points), there are often point earning opportunities. So if you join Bookclub X, you not only get books at a low price, but you'll get points to trade in for gift cards later via the site you signed up with. They lure you with that initial deal: so many books for the low, low price of Y! It's hard to resist. BUT, there are caveats that I'll get to in a minute.
I have gotten a lot of great books through these book clubs for a fraction of their retail price. Books like:
all in hardback, although they are usually "book club editions" that differ slightly from the retail versions. The books generally ship pretty quickly, not like in the old days where it would take weeks. Ah, the internet!
The clubs' retail prices can vary between higher and lower than retail, depending on the book and what sale they've got going on. Several times a year they put on promotions where you can snag so many books at a lower price, or with free or reduced shipping.
By getting the books at a low price, you are agreeing to buy so many books at the regular club price (usually below retail most of the time, but not always) within a given time period, usually a year.The amount of books you purchase differs by club, but usually it's about four. This time period is usually a year. So, don't sign up if you don't think you can do this, because if you don't buy the books? They will charge your credit card for the amount of those books if you haven't purchased them by the date-and that amount is ALWAYS higher than if you'd just bought the books yourself. They will of course, give you ample warning before they do this.
That brings me to the downside of these clubs.
- Limited selection. If you're looking for a best-seller at a great price, book clubs are for you. That said, QPB and SFBC usually have the best selections. Most clubs have really limited YA selections. I've been able to snag some more well-known titles through clubs, but they have to be best sellers like Hush Hush or Beautiful Creatures to be considered for the clubs.
- Featured selections. Some clubs are moving away from these, and it's not a moment too soon. If you don't reply to that featured selection, guess what? Your credit card will be charged and those books will be shipped to you. You will be refunded if you return the books unopened, (just write 'Refused-Return to Sender' on the box) but it's still a hassle.
- Spam. If you sign up for these clubs, be aware that they will be sending you e-mail every week or so. So, if you don't already have a spam e-mail account, set one up. That said, make sure you check said spam e-mail account, because you will need to reply to your featured selections to avoid having them sent to you.