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Powell’s Books Indiespensable Subscription Review – Vol. 57

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Powell’s Books Indiespensable is a book subscription box that ships every 6 weeks. So many readers recommended this box that I had to sign up!

FYI – this subscription is currently sold out, but they open it up every month or so. (If you want an email alert when the waitlist opens, you can sign up for the MSA Powell’s Indiespensable waitlist email).


My Subscription Addiction pays for this subscription. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes).


The Subscription Box: Powell’s Books Indiespensable

The Cost: $39.95 a shipment (every 6 weeks)

The Products: Exclusive books and extras

Ships to: Worldwide

Check out all of my Powell’s Indiespensable reviews!


The box comes with a little booklet that details the items in the box, why they were chosen, and includes additional exclusives, like an interview with author:


Now time for the actual book:


Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt – (Retail Value for just hardcover book on is $26)

Book summary from Amazon:

Ruth and Nat are orphans, packed into a house full of abandoned children run by a religious fanatic. To entertain their siblings, they channel the dead. Decades later, Ruth’s niece, Cora, finds herself accidentally pregnant. After years of absence, Aunt Ruth appears, mute and full of intention. She is on a mysterious mission, leading Cora on an odyssey across the entire state of New York on foot. Where is Ruth taking them? Where has she been? And who — or what — has she hidden in the woods at the end of the road?


In an ingeniously structured dual narrative, two separate timelines move toward the same point of crisis. Their merging will upend and reinvent the whole. A subversive ghost story that is carefully plotted and elegantly constructed, Mr. Splitfoot will set your heart racing and your brain churning. Mysteries abound, criminals roam free, utopian communities show their age, the mundane world intrudes on the supernatural and vice versa. 



The value for the hardcover I listed is based on the hardcover copy alone, not including the exclusive slipcase. It also doesn’t factor in that this is a signed first edition:



Fever at Dawn by Peter Gardos – Not released yet! (Hardcover version has a retail value of $24 and is released on April 12th)

Book summary from Amazon:

July 1945. Miklos is a twenty-five-year-old Hungarian who has survived the camps and has been brought to Sweden to convalesce. His doctor has just given him a death sentence — his lungs are filled with fluid and in six months he will be gone. But Miklos has other plans. He didn’t survive the war only to drown from within, and so he wages war on his own fate. He acquires the names of the 117 Hungarian women also recovering in Sweden, and he writes a letter to each of them in his beautiful cursive hand. One of these women, he is sure, will become his wife.

In another part of the country, Lili reads his letter and decides to write back. For the next few months, the two engage in a funny, absurd, hopeful epistolary dance. Eventually, they find a way to meet.

Based on the true story of Péter Gárdos’s parents, and drawn from their letters, Fever at Dawn is a vibrant, ribald, and unforgettable tale, showing the death-defying power of the human will to live and to love.

Tony’s Chocolonely Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt Bar – Value $5?

This chocolate bar is HUGE! Shown in hand for scale:


My husband Eric also can testify to its deliciousness. And when looking up this bar I learned that it just recently launched in the US in Portland, so I think it is a great inclusion in the box!

Verdict: I’m always happy with this subscription, and I’m glad the Powell’s sent two books this time (for Volume 56 there was only one book). Both books sound interesting to me, and of course I LOVE getting an advanced reader copy of a book in a subscription box! What do you think of Volume 57?

Written by Liz Cadman

Liz Cadman

Liz is the founder of My Subscription Addiction. She’s been hooked on subscription boxes since 2011 thanks to Birchbox, and she now subscribes to over 100 boxes. Her favorites include POPSUGAR Must Have, FabFitFun, and any box that features natural beauty products!
All views in this review are the opinion of the author. My Subscription Addiction will never accept payment in exchange for a review, but will accept a box at no cost to provide honest opinions on the box. This post may contain affiliate/referral links. Read the complete My Subscription Addiction disclosure.


  1. I had a sub to Indiespensable until I realized many of the selections aren’t first editions (which doesn’t seem to hurt the asking prices on the resale markets.).

    Indiespensables are specious: A first edition doesn’t vary in time or form from the initial print run.

    The first edition of Tinkers was a paperback.

    Add-in signed pages, as are found in Indiespensable books (usually two or more pages), violate first edition imprimaturs.

    (By the way, signed add-in pages means the author never held or touched the book, but merely signed loose sheets in another location that were later shipped to publisher and added to the book. Powell’s has a profit motivation for that.)

    In one Indiespensable, the author signed a dust jacket made “exclusively” for the Indiespensable edition. In other cases, Powell’s asks the publisher to remove the first edition dust jacket from Indiespensables to fit the book into a slipcase. Changes to dust jackets void a first edition.

    As someone said, Indiespensables are book club editions.

    In some unusual cases, a book club edition is the first edition because it preceded the trade edition (e.g., Susan Sontag’s, In America, and at least one book by Philip Roth printed privately before the trade edition), but Indiespensables aren’t those.

    • Book club edition refers to mass publication of a title, usually of less desirable paper quality, different boards, and sometimes of smaller size, for book club subscribers at reduced price. Indiespensable usally issues the exact first trade edition with the added service of tipping in a signature page, and that makes it non first edition or a BCE? That’s really twisted logic.

      If we follow this twisted logic, that will make a lot of very valuable publisher issued signed limited first edition, which are often issued in slip case, without dust jacket, and have totally different board design, pseudo first edition? The first that comes to mind is Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms: do we take the signed limited first edition or the traded first edition to be the true first, considering they are vastly different in form? That’s a real silly question.

      What then of the same for the Frosts, the Faulkners, the Updikes, the Roths (Franklin or trade to be the first), and the Morrisons, just to name some? Clearly they are all first editions (and definitely not book club edition) that can be further distinguished as signed limited fe or first trade edition. The Indiespensable one would simply be a signed limited fe issued by Powell’s Indiespensable.

      Ultimately, the value of the first edition is determined by its demand. As for whether an author really touched a signed book, that’s really puritan hair-splitting. Cormac McCarthy’s first edition of No Country for Old Men sells for 50 bucks, but copies that are identical except for a tipped in page with his signature sell for 8 to 10 times more. And McCarthy most likely never touched those books, but what does it matter?

      If one wants to play first edition collection as an investment game, then the real question to ask is not which is the true first edition, but which first edition version of a title is most desirable. If offered at the same price at the secondary market, I’ll always go for the Indiespensable issued Tinkers or The Goldfinch over their flat signed first editions: with the Indiespensable ones, at least I have a much better chance of getting an authentic signature.

  2. Subscriptions are now being offered on the Indiespensible website!

  3. I love they found a local chocolatier to include in their box! I love Powell’s and I love Portland!

    • Tony’s Chocolonely is Dutch.

      • They opened a store in Portland, which is why they were featured.

  4. Liz, I would love to see you review Bookcase Club. I found it on another site, but I can’t bring myself to pull the trigger and try it out until I see it reviewed on this site!! It seemed like one of the best deals on book subs that I have seen so far, on par with Book of the Month!

    • Thanks so much – I just signed up for the YA version, and was thinking about getting another version as well. They offer: Paranormal Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels, Mystery/Thriller, and Romance as well.

      Do you have any requests? 🙂

      • All of them! Lol. I was torn on the YA, Paranormal Romance, and Mystery/Thriller.

        • Ha! Love it! 🙂 I’ll sign up for all three then! I can’t say no to books 🙂

          • I can’t wait to see your reviews! And I believe the CRATEJOY code works for 10% off, if you didn’t already know that.

            Thanks so much for this site that has become my daily addiction 🙂

          • Thank you so much! 🙂 Fingers crossed we both love the books they send!

  5. I just want to note that they have excellent customer service. I failed to update my credit card in my account, so the charge for this box wouldn’t go through. Instead of just dropping me, they sent an email saying there was a problem and asked me to call. I did so, and the guy on the other end was incredibly nice and we got my credit card info squared away and the box is now on its way.

    The whole process was friendly and painless!

    • Same thing happened to me. They didn’t transfer over my card when they recently updated their website. It seemed like a personal call with someone sitting in their office. Like customer service where it seems more of a casual call versus business like. Really good customer service and they even added on free shipping for my next non-indispensable order.

  6. I go back and forth on this one. This edition looks amazing. Both books sound like good reads and that chocolate: yummy! Hmm.

  7. I read an eARC of this book and really liked it, though I wish the box had something I hadn’t read yet…. I’ll still be happy to have a signed first edition though!

  8. I’m surprised there wasn’t more mention of the chocolate in this review because it was sooooooooooo delicious. Honestly I feel the $40 was worth it just to discover Tony’s Chocolonely! Haha. Also their dedication to 100% slave free chocolate is pretty cool. So it’s crazy delicious AND ethical. Score!

  9. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only person who’s tried to buy the chocolate!! I wish they sold it on their site because I would go crazy buying cases. I don’t normally devour chocolate bars, but holy crap that stuff was amazing. I stretched it out into 24 hours, trying to hide it in between nosh sessions. It is amazing. Best chocolate ever. I did Google each of the vendors in Portland that sell the chocolate, and there was one

    QUIN at Union Way
    1025 SW Stark St.
    Portland, OR 97209

    QUIN at SE 28th + Ankeny
    2805 SE Ankeny St.
    Portland, OR 97214

    that has an online store. While they only sell their handmade candies I did email them to ask if I could order some of these chocolate bars. I haven’t heard back, yet. I’ll let you all know if I do!

  10. This is the first box since I quit this sub, and it looks great. It’s worth noting that the last box they sent was almost three months ago, not six weeks, and it was one book and a candy bar. I subscribed for about a year and a half and I LOVE Powell’s (or Mecca, as I call it!), but generally feel the value is just not there. I decided to start following the reviews instead and just ordering the book if it sounds good…cheaper that way!

    • I was disappointed last month but excited about this month. I’m a rare book bookseller and see the value because it is a signed first edition in a slipcover. They have sent out books that doubled their price later. City of Fire was supposed to be the new “it” book from a new hip author but it bombed after mediocre reviews at best came out. Honesty a lot of the book boxes aren’t good values.

      • Yeah, I had All the Light We Cannot See from this box and sold it to a used bookstore for a few bucks…then the value exploded. Stupid me!

        I just couldn’t justify continuing to spend $40 on a single book that I often wasn’t terribly interested in reading. Sometimes the books were great, but a lot were books I would never choose (even AFTER receiving it!).

      • It’s funny you say that.

        I actually dropped Powell’s because they started doing “Indiespensable” editions.

        Basically, they’re not real firsts anymore. They’re essentially book club editions now, which means no real collectible value.

        Shame, since they had a decent product.

        Unless I’m mistaken, Wolf Winter was the last true publisher first that Powell’s sent out.

        • I have such a backlog of books to read that I haven’t even unwrapped the shrink wrap from several of my recent Indiespensibles, but I noticed in this review the photo of the title signature page with the Indiespensibles logo, and I’m soooo disappointed. You’re totally right; these aren’t real first editions anymore, and that drops down the value a LOT for me. I’m really bummed!

        • I was disappointed by the special signature page this month too – it feels a little lazy. I’m not so anxious to get the book before everyone else but it is a subscription where I recognize the value is more about curating the box (and possibly the nice slipcase) than the book itself. I could easily save $25 and buy the paperback copy of Mr. Splitfoot if I wanted.

          That said, if I just checked the books that were sent and considered buying them on Amazon I would probably miss some treasures. I loved All My Puny Sorrows but if I had browsed at the store I would have never bought it because it didn’t hook me until after the first chapter. I’m now halfway through Mr. Splitfoot and anxious to finish it although the first chapter was just strange and confusing and I wouldn’t have bought/read it if it hadn’t been sent to me.

          I feel it is exposing me to types of books that I wouldn’t normally pick up and read and that’s fun. My only complaint is that I can’t apply Powell’s Virtual Credit to the subscription.

  11. Wow! This sub sounds incredible… although I switched to Kindle, that’s my only doubt about this. I haven’t picked up a paper book in years. hmm… So intriguing though! I will keep an eye on this one!

  12. Yes!!!! for the chocolate. The book sounds like a good read. Mine hasn’t arrived yet and this makes me excited for it.

  13. This was definitely a better box than the last. I love the vibrant colors on the book/case. This subscription is perfect for me because it often includes books that haven’t been released and more often than not, books that I would never choose for myself (and end up loving).

    And, as for the chocolate, it deserves an entire paragraph to itself. It was sooooooooooo wonderful. I won’t tell you how long it took me to finish it … let’s just say it can be measured in minutes/hours, not days! Good to know they will be selling it on the website soon!

  14. Delicious chocolate. I want more! I am now reading the paperback and will read Mr. Splitfoot right after. The last box was terrific as well. I really enjoyed City on Fire and was not at all disappointed that there was only one book because the book was excellent! Looking forward to the next one. 🙂

  15. And that was the best chocolate bar I’ve had in a while. Even though it was huge, it did not last for two days with me around! Unfortunately under the “webshop” of their website it only says “coming soon.”

    • I’ve found out you can order the Tony Chocolonely from QUIN Candy in Portland :)! I’ve already placed an order with them, for the chocolate bars and a couple of their handmade caramels. They are actually supposed to arrive in the mail today. I. Cannot. Wait.

  16. Awesome box this time! #redemption (only one book last time was a letdown, even though it was really long and signed)

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