Book of the Month Club reinvents itself for the 21st Century
December 23, 2017 7:25 AM   Subscribe

Founded in 1926, the Book of the Month Club catered to an audience of middle-class Americans who wanted to stay abreast of literary trends but didn't necessarily have access to bookstores. Although subscribers were sacandalized by the first selection, the club was wildly successful, helping to launch popular novels like Gone with the Wind and at its peak boasting an audience of 1.5 million members. The concept seemed hopelessly outdated in the era of chain big-box bookstores and then Amazon, and the BoTMC closed in 2014. New owners quickly reopened it, with a new concept. Taking a cue from subscription services like Birchbox and and Loot Crate, Book of the Month Club has been reinvented as a subscription book service for women in their 20s and 30s.

The new BoTMC's owner, John Lippmann, says "Our members are looking for uplifting stories, inspirational stories. They love stories about people who persevere against challenges in their lives, versus books that offer harsh comments on the state of the world.” But that characterization is somewhat challenged by the inclusion of selections like Jesmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing and The Power by (Metafilter's own) Naomi Alderman.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious (17 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Signing up for Book of the Month was one of the first things I did when I got my first job out of college and moved into my own apartment. It felt like a really adult thing—I actually had some disposable income and I could choose to spend some of it on hardcover books! I still have some of those books and it’s been about 30 years.
posted by bookmammal at 7:35 AM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

Aaaaaand I misspelled "scandalized." Clearly, I need a dictionary from the Book of the Month Club!
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:44 AM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]

From June, here's a Track Changes* episode in which they talk with Maris Kreizman, BOTM's editorial director. As I remember, they talk about BOTM's reinvention/rebranding for the modern era, the future of books, etc. It was, again as best as I can recall, a pretty good episode.

*Track Changes being the podcast of Postlight, hosted by the company's co-founders, Paul Ford and Rich Ziade.
posted by timdiggerm at 8:07 AM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Their new commercials really do, uh, cater to that demographic.
posted by Small Dollar at 8:39 AM on December 23, 2017

Interesting that the more specialized clubs, like the Science Fiction Book Club and History Book Club, have survived.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:59 AM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Maris Kreizman was also the creator of Slaughterhouse 90210.
posted by Ian A.T. at 11:00 AM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Science Fiction Book Club is still around? Man, that was like, my childhood. The whole family would gather 'round the little pamphlet they sent out and circle whichever books we wanted to get. Not at all joking, my memories of this are stronger than my memories of any holiday gifts I ever received growing up.
posted by kyrademon at 11:03 AM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]

They want my email address to even look at the selections. So no.
posted by andreap at 11:22 AM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

Your local bookstore may well already do this (e.g., Book Culture's options), without your having to buy into some big chain operation.
posted by praemunire at 1:38 PM on December 23, 2017

I’ve been a BOTM subscriber for five months now and it’s a lot of fun. I’m a library person for the most part, but there’s something really great about a nice new hardback book arriving in the mail. On the first of every month I’m always so excited to spend a half hour agonizing over their new selections - almost always I already want to read some of them, but have never heard of others. If you’re a reader - and especially if you’re someone who reads so much it’s cost-prohibitive to buy all the books you read, as I am - it’s a super great way to spend $14.99 a month. A perfect little monthly treat.
posted by something something at 3:09 PM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

(I’m kind of cracking up rereading that spammy-sounding post but I swear I’m an authentic enthusiast!)
posted by something something at 3:11 PM on December 23, 2017

This is timely. For many years, 10 or more, my father's Christmas present to me was one year's worth of BOTM. It was wonderful for a bookworm and I added the Science Fiction Book of the Month and the Detective/Suspense Book of the month myself. Some of those still survive; I have a whole set of Agatha Christie with the book club imprimatur at the bottom.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:44 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

I really enjoy Book of the Month (I am their target demographic.) It's the one subscription service I indulge myself with, although it doesn't help the TBR mountain.
posted by hapaxes.legomenon at 5:07 PM on December 23, 2017

I built a big chunk of my library back in the 90s via the Quality Paperback Book Club. All those trade paperbacks with cheap covers that curled! So much good reading. So cheap.
posted by Orlop at 5:16 PM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

I used to salivate over the ads for the science fiction book of the month club, but could never afford to join (being a middle schooler on a minimal allowance). Discovered the science fiction specialist store with the large used selection instead.
posted by jb at 10:47 PM on December 23, 2017

The Science Fiction Book Club is still around?

They were still spamming me as recently as a couple of years ago. Also, I'm currently rereading The Foundation Trilogy, it's my SFBC binding of all three books together. I've probably had the book for over 30 years.
posted by COD at 6:25 AM on December 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I got my 2-volume Oxford English Dictionary through Book-of-the-Month back in the mid-80s. Still have it. Still think about Ned Rosenheim every time I see it.
posted by catlet at 10:55 PM on December 24, 2017

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