Suzie Eisfelder

Last year I received a lovely email asking me to try out a brand new book subscription service. I was intrigued. I enjoyed some of the selections of the book subscription service I paid for in 1980 and I wanted to see what these people did.

Back in the late ’70s and into 1980 I was a member of a book subscription service. With no internet it worked totally by mail order. What they would do is send out the book of the month and include a multipage colour listing of a number of other books I could choose from. If I didn’t want the book of the month I could send it back, unread, within seven days. I never got around to sending them back, instead I kept them. Most of them I read, some were good enough to reread. One stayed on my shelf unread until a couple of years ago. I decided it was time, so I opened it, read as much as I could and then passed it on. 1980 till around 2018. I suggest you stop worrying about that book that’s been on your To Be Read Pile for five years or so, you’ll get to it. I don’t recall whether they asked me any initial questions about my likes or dislikes in reading, but I suspect they didn’t, I suspect they chose a book and sent it out to everyone. The onus was on the receiver to decide whether they wanted it or wanted a replacement.

Fast forward to 2020. We now have a fairly good internet service. Bionic Book Subscription has also brought the book subscription services up-to-date in line with the internet. I know there are other book subscription services around and they’re probably just as modern, but I haven’t tried them out. I was offered a free three month trial if I would write a review on my blog. I’ll send them a link after I’ve published.

I jumped at the chance. Not because I wanted three books for free, don’t look at my TBR Pile! I wanted to try them out and see how it works. I’m grateful it’s only three months, if they’d offered me more I might not have taken up their offer. I was told there would be a questionnaire to gauge what they would send me, and after the first book they would contact me to find out what I thought so they can adjust their selection process. They want to make sure I get the right books. Instead of just sending, to all subscribers, a book that they have chosen, they have a mixture of algorithm and humans to pick out a book just for me.

The questionnaire was interesting. I’m not going to show you any screen shots as I don’t want you to prethink your answers too much. What I expected was long lists of genres and authors to sort through and tick which ones I read and which I don’t read. I expected to have to tell them that I don’t like romance and that if I received romance I’d be rather upset. I got nothing of the above. There were a couple of lists, but they were very short, extremely short. In fact, the entire questionnaire was very quick to complete and I found myself wondering what would happen.

About a week later I was very excited to receive a book in the mail. It came the day before we left for a few days in Halls Gap, perfect timing. I was intrigued by the packaging. It’s a bubblewrap mailer, and normally this would be thrown into the rubbish bin (unless I can reuse it for something else). This mailer tells me it is both compostable and zero-waste. Apparently you can separate the bubble wrap from the outer paper. The paper then goes into the recycling while the bubble wrap can be thrown in your compost bin. I’ll have to do some research to double check this. I practice lazy composting, digging a hole and throwing my kitchen peelings directly into the hole. I’d not want to compromise my veggie garden with something that isn’t really compostable. Some of the compostable bags I get aren’t really compostable, it’s interesting.

Two other things came in this parcel. A nicely written letter, which I hope they produced using mail merge, otherwise it’ll take them lots of time to produce these letters when they start getting popular. And then there was the book.

I do admit to some trepidation when I pulled out the book. I was concerned a romance would drop out and then I wouldn’t be able to take it with me on holidays. But, I was pleasantly surprised to find State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. I’ve been meaning to read this author for some years and it was good to be able to take this opportunity. No, it is not romance, and I will scribble some words about it at a later date.

I suspect they didn’t expect me to finish the book within a couple of days and are giving me a little more time before they contact me to ask me questions. I’m really curious about these questions and they might aid me in scribbling some words about the book when the time comes.

I do suggest you give these people a try. It’s an interesting method of getting books and so far I’ve been quite happy with their choice. You can find them here.

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