For the love of books! Are you indecisive? Need a little literary prompting? A bespoke book subscription delivers a surprise book, or a selection of books, to your home on a monthly or quarterly basis. Upon signing up, you select your genre – fiction or non-fiction – and whether you want literary classics or under-the-radar novels by up-and-coming authors. Then simply leave it to the bookworm experts who will select and post you their recommended books. This expertly curated reading experience is far more insightful than flicking through your Kindle recommendations.

Some book subscription sites bundle up their books with brown paper and string; others with luxury tissue paper and fancy ribbon. Many sneak extra goodies into the parcels alongside the chosen books (think herbal teas, bath bombs, scented candles, chocolates or hot cocoa; anything to boost that reading experience). Some sites are Instagram-friendly, others decidedly more highbrow. Many have digital book clubs and online forums so subscribers can chat with a community of fellow bookworms who are simultaneously reading the same text. So, how to know which book subscription site is for you?

Here, we’ve compiled five book subscription sites that we are fond of.

For the glam, well-read woman

Reposed (formerly Reading in Heels)
Book Subscriptions, Credit Reposed

Like books, love pampering? Reposed, which is for the more glam, well-read folk among us, is the UK’s bestselling book subscription for women. Formerly known as Reading in Heels, this monthly book subscription club is for clued-up, stylish women who like to talk about both contemporary literary fiction and the latest in beauty products. Every month, subscribers receive a beautiful box containing a hand-picked book along with a few extra surprises – usually a snack, a drink and a luxury skincare product or elegant stationery. Since launching in 2017, they’ve worked with the likes of Miller Harris, Prestat, Quintessentially and Bloom & Wild. The digital book club, Reposed Salon, offers guides on how to set up a book club and includes literary themed cocktail recipes and Spotify playlists. For the bookish and the beautiful.

For every literary genre under the sun

The Willoughby Book Club
Book Subscriptions, Willoughby Book Club

Do you struggle to find the time to research which books you want to read? Eight years ago, Adam Pollard and his wife Chloe felt the same. They recognised a gap in the market for helping people find the books they want to read without trawling through a high street bookshop. The couple launched The Willoughby Book Club, which offers a book subscription service that sends out a new hand-picked title to suit customers’ tastes every month. They offer a ton of personalised subscriptions for all sensibilities, from cookery and gardening to picture books for children. There is even a ‘Couples Book’ package, allowing you and your partner to receive two copies of the same book every month so you can read them simultaneously and discuss them. What’s more, for every book subscription gift bought, The Willoughby Book Club donates a brand new book to Book Aid International to support its educational work in Sub-Saharan Africa.

For your very own literary concierge

Mr B’s Emporium
Book Subscriptions, Credit Mr B

For the ultimate personal touch, look to the independent Bath bookshop, Mr B’s Emporium, which offers subscribers their very own ‘bibliotherapist’ who will stay in touch for the duration of their subscription. There is nothing mass market going on here. It’s rather like picking up your very own literary concierge. Want to switch off from screen time and get lost in a good book? Sometimes you need a helping hand finding the right read. Upon subscribing, you must complete a short online consultation, so your personal bibliophile gets a feel for your reading tastes. Each month, he (or indeed, she) will post you perfectly chosen books in brown paper tied up with string and finished with their wax seal. Isn’t that a dream? Mr B’s Emporium has garnered quite the loyal following.

For books you’ve never heard of

Heywood Hill
Book Subsriptions, Credit Heywood Hill

Now, this is the serious literary subscription for unashamedly bookish people. Heywood Hill, the tiny – but very special – Mayfair bookshop where Nancy Mitford once worked, offers A Year in Subscription which does exactly as it says on the tin. Each month, subscribers receive a book tailored exactly to their preferences. Upon signing up, customers do a reading consultation online, over the phone or – unlike many competitors – even in person. The dedicated team of bibliophiles use this information, alongside their own knowledge and expertise, to choose the right book. The reading consultation questions may include, ‘Do you want fiction or non-fiction? Tell us your three favourite books, your favourite author and do you want to explore a genre or author? Do you read a lot and want obscure books or just want to be pointed in the right direction?’ It’s a system that just works.

For reassuring yet curious book choices

Daunt Books
Book Subscriptions, Credit Daunt

Daunt Books, the London-based chain, will forever be one of our favourite independent bookshops. The stores are always beautiful spaces that ooze charm. The Marylebone bookshop has oak galleries, stained glass windows, dark wood shelves, skylights, helpful assistants and plenty of character. The Daunt annual subscription is rather similar; charming, friendly and personal. For £160, it makes for a rather brilliant, totally bespoke, present to give to the person who has everything. Or to yourself, of course. Over the course of a year, Daunt Books will send the recipient a new title every month, according to their tastes and preferences. If you know and like Daunt already, let its experts curate your titles for you. Expect to receive bundles of books that you might not stumble upon in a rival bookstore.

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February 2020
By Annabel Jack