Book subscription boxes have been on the rise for years now. I remember first learning about OwlCrate, a YA-focused competitor to Book of the Month way back in my high school years. I was enchanted by the idea of getting books in the mail. Book of the Month’s concept takes a different approach to the book subscription box method.
Here is my in-depth, upfront, honest review of BOTM. Is Book of the Month worth it? Find out below!
How Book of the Month Works
Book of the Month is a monthly subscription service that provides you with a selection of 5 (to 7 as of 2022) books that you can pick from. Your box can include a total of 3 books for an additional cost per add-on.
The books are selected by their curators and make up a range of genres (although you may find the curators have their favorite types of books). You’ll also have their backlog of previous books and any add-ons included in their catalog for you to pick from. However, these books can only be added to your box if you select a main pick.
The boxes come with a cute, sassy bookmark each month as well.
Quality of Selection
This is, predictably, the hottest topic of conversation among BOTM subscribers. I find that sometimes the selections aren’t what I would personally pick but they do tend to have at least one book I’m interested in. Rather than me go on about what I personally think of their selections, I wanted to take a look at what they have selected over the past year.
From July 2021 to June 2022 they have had:
- 13 Thrillers
- 10 Historical Fiction Books
- 9 Contemporary Fiction Books
- 8 Romances
- 6 Fantasies
- 6 Literary Fiction Books
- 2 Memoirs
- 2 Mysteries
- 1 Narrative Nonfiction Book
- 1 Short Story Collection
- 1 Magical Realism Book
- 1 Young Adult Book
- 1 Speculative Fiction Book
- 1 True Crime
- 1 Gothic Fiction Books
Keep in mind, however, that some have pointed out that Book of the Month will put books in strange genre categories where they might not belong based on other listings of the book. So take this with a grain of salt to some degree.
From this, we can take away how frequently you can expect to see thrillers, historical fiction, and contemporary fiction. These are the most popular genres offered by Book of the Month and most months you won’t go without seeing at least one of these genres in the line-up. In many months you’ll see multiple historical fiction selections in one month.
However, if you love true crime, young adult, memoirs, and the other genres given less than 8 books in a 12-month span then you’re likely to be unhappy with this subscription service. (Unless you’re open to expanding your horizons to other more favored genres.)
From July 2021 to June 2022 they had:
- 9 Repeat Authors (Five months without at least one repeat author)
- 8 Early Releases (Six months without at least one early release)
- 21 Debuts (Only one month without at least one debut)
You’ll definitely find new authors from Book of the Month given how frequently they feature them. It may be hit or miss if you’re specifically hoping for early releases, however.
Quality of Books
Some say the quality of books is not good. I don’t find that the books are particularly poor quality. You aren’t going to get some of the fancier features like deckle edges, different interior font colors, beautiful chapter designs, shimmer covers, or any other premium book design elements. Personally, the books stay together well even after vigorous reading and they look uniform. That’s good enough for me.
My largest complaint about the quality of books is that they sometimes mess up the cut of the dust jackets. It’s only happened to me once or twice. Some others have had problems with their books having missing pages. BOTM from what I have seen and heard is always good about replacing books that are damaged in any way. Many have accidentally gotten the wrong book and they don’t even have to ship it back, BOTM just sends with the correct one.
Pros of Book of the Month
There’s so much to love about Book of the Month, even as someone who considered cancellation at one point.
Large Community of Book Lovers
While Book of the Month themselves doesn’t promote a bookish community within their website like alternative Literati, the members of BOTM have created their own spaces to interact online. You can go to Reddit and Facebook and find plenty of others talking about BOTM there.
Yearly Challenge to Encourage Reading
Each year there is a challenge you can try to complete for a physical reward. This year the reward is your choice of notepad, magnets, or socks.
The 2022 reading challenge included finishing one long book, reading 12 books total, and finishing 3 debuts. Completion of this challenge unlocked an additional challenge to read 12 more books with an unknown prize.
Books for this challenge must come from BOTM, even if you purchase a BOTM outside of BOTM, it can be logged on BOTM but can’t be included in your challenge count.
Keep in mind, the challenge can only be accessed from the app.
After 12 boxes are shipped you become a BFF. BFFs receive a welcome tote, a free add-on during their birthday month each year, and their pick of one of five Book of the Year Finalists each year. They also get access to a private customer service line and 20% off all member-exclusive Blue Box Boutique items. However, I find the last two benefits negligible. The real benefits are in the two free books each year. Also, the tote is high-quality. (I just used it to go by books Barnes and Noble.)
For the record, as of writing, I have ordered 19 boxes that include a total of 50 books. I’ve been a member for 20 months.
I find that the box gets to me within a few days of me making my selections. I almost always select as soon as the books are dropped and I tend to not be a person to go after the most popular books among members. If you happen to pick a book that everyone wants and you aren’t one of the first then you may have to wait a bit longer for your box.
There are also some instances, due to publications and contract reasons I’d assume, when specific books included in the monthly lineup can not be shipped out before a certain date. Usually, this is within the first week of the month.
If you’re the type of person who likes to have shelves that look uniform, then Book of the Month is an awesome choice. My bookshelf is slowly transforming to have beautiful hardcovers all lined up and sitting pretty. Even when you buy hardcovers in general, you’re not guaranteed they will be the same dimensions. This is by far the silliest reason to be a Book of the Month subscriber, but it is genuinely something I enjoy about BOTM books.
Cons of Book of the Month
While there’s a lot to love about Book of the Month, this book subscription service does have its faults.
Selections Can Be Limited
If you don’t care for thrillers, contemporary fiction, or historical fiction then you will probably have a tougher time finding books you enjoy with this book box. I have seen them try to open their horizons, I imagine they’ve hired additional book curators. That’s the problem with book subscription boxes, you quickly learn the book curators have specific tastes, even down to the types of tropes and main characters they enjoy. As I see this improving, however, I’m assuming it won’t always be a con.
There have been price increases over the years and they do seem to split-test members on add-on prices. This does rub me the wrong way. When people have posted about these price differences and reach out the support team has “fixed” it for them. I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist but I’ve done split-testing for marketing work before. This definitely appears to be a split-test of sorts.
When they moved up the costs this was also a sort of slow roll-out. Honestly Book of the Month is terrible about cost transparency and I do genuinely dislike that about this company. They won’t randomly charge you more but they will try to skew prices at random. They’ve been called out on this multiple times so we’ll see if this is a long-term con or if they get new management that figures it out and learns to be more open with their memberships. (You know, the people keeping the lights on?)
United States Only
Unfortunately, BOTM doesn’t cater to those living outside of the US. This makes it a less than stellar option for international book lovers. I have heard of some people who live on the US-Canadian border who come down to the United States periodically to pick up their books (I believe from a P.O. Box or from a relative/friend receiving their books for them).
Book of the Month Cost
Currently, the cost is $15.99 per book and $10.99 per add-on. The price when up to $15.99 in March 2022 for me. Previously I had been paying $14.99 per month for the main pick, so not that large of a jump. In May 2022 I experienced the add-on price hike to $10.99 from $9.99, however, this might have changed in the previous month as I didn’t purchase any add-ons during April 2022.
Another option is an annual membership. 12 credits or 12 months of membership costs $167.99, putting you at $13.99 per book.
For new members, the first book is usually offered at a promotional discount of $9.99.
Is It Cheaper to Be a Member or Buy the Books Alone?
I wanted to take a closer look at these prices to see which is the better deal: Book of the Month or going it alone. I have my hypothesis, but I want to lay it all out for us here.
First, let’s take a look at this month’s picks (June 2022). These are $15.99 as hardbacks through Book of the Month and these are their costs through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Target, respectively:
- The Stardust Thief – $23.99 / $23.99 / $23.99
- Things We Do in the Dark – $22.99 / $22.99 / $27.99
- The Lifestyle – $24.30 / $27.00 / Unavailable
- Woman of Light – $24.99 / $24.99 / $24.99
- The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle – $25.20 / $28.00 / $25.49
- The Lies I Tell – $21.99 / $21.99 / $21.99
Clearly, it’s cheaper to go with the Book of the Month subscription. Unless you’re set on getting the publisher edition instead of BOTM’s edition.
Now, what about those who don’t read the book the month they get it from Book of the Month? I have Book of the Month books from well over a year ago that I haven’t gotten to yet. Let’s take a look at how long these hold their ‘value’ by looking at books from January of this year.
These are the January 2022 Book of the Month picks and their associated costs through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Target, respectively:
- Black Cake – $17.81 / $23.80 / $17.81
- Love & Other Disasters – $13.99 / $13.99 / $13.69
- Reckless Girls – $13.99 / $22.49 / $13.99
- Fiona and Jane – $15.80 / $21.99 / $15.89
- The Magnolia Palace – $17.99 / $24.30 / $17.99
As you can see, Book of the Month books from six months prior have started to lose their value slightly but about half are still more expensive depending upon your retailer of choice. It really comes down to how quickly you’ll be reading the books if you’re going off cost alone. If books sit on your shelf for two years before you pick them up, especially if you don’t care about having a hardback edition, then Book of the Month isn’t a good fit cost-wise. Alternatively, if you read books the month you buy them and you have to have a hardcover, Book of the Month will save you a significant amount of money.
Is Book of the Month Worth It? (Honestly)
If I’m being transparent, I do think Book of the Month is worth it. However, it’s not for everyone.
Consider a few factors before you sign up:
- Are you bothered by the BOTM sticker on the spine of your books?
- Would it bother you to have some BOTM editions and some other editions when reading a series? (Not every series is included entirely in the BOTM catalog.)
- Are you picky about the genres you read with no desire to step outside your approved story types?
- Are you trying to save money and budget better?
- You want vetted books delivered to you without the hassle of researching and staying up-to-date on bookish news.
- You want to discover new authors, new genres, and step outside of your comfort zone overall.
- You want accountability to read more.
- You want a book subscription without receiving a surprise book you don’t want.
If you answered YES to questions one through four then heavily consider if BOTM is actually a good fit for you. However, if you answered YES to questions five through eight, then BOTM definitely could be a good option for you.
At the end of the day, we’re all incredibly unique when it comes to our book buying and reading habits. What is a dealbreaker for one person may not bother the next, and vice versa. I’ve seen people mention they canceled after a one-dollar price hike and others cancel after a single month of ‘bad’ monthly picks.
For me, Book of the Month has opened my mind to a ton of new books I would never have picked up otherwise.
Alternatives to Book of the Month
If the style of book subscription BOTM provides just doesn’t suit your reading habits, there are plenty of other options. Lucky for you there are more options than you could get through in a year of trying new options every month. (Book subscription boxes are not limited, I’ll tell you that right now.)
Try out the following subscription boxes as alternatives to Book of the Month:
- OwlCrate – For the YA book lover who wants extra goodies beyond books.
- Once Upon A Book Club – For the reader who wants to be extra immersed in their stories.
- The Book Drop – For the reader who wants to support indie bookstores and sellers.
- Scribbler – For the reader whose also a writer.
- Coffee & A Classic – For the reader who prefers timeless, classic novels.
- Literati – For the reader who wants a true book club experience.
There are so many options to try, however, there’s something about Book of the Month that has kept me around for almost two years of membership. It introduced me to thriller and horror which I wouldn’t have looked for on my own. It brought me together with other book lovers to commiserate over books we both loved and hated. It gave me something to anticipate at the end of each month (normally a stressful, crunch-time sort of week).
I highly recommend you give Book of the Month a try.