Posted by on in Powell's Indiespensable Reviews, Subscription Box Reviews | 34 comments

Powell’s Books Indiespensable Subscription Box Review – Vol. 50

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Powell's Books Indiespensible Subscription Box Review - Vol. 50 Box

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!

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

Powell's Books Indiespensible Subscription Box Review - Vol. 50 Items

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

Powell's Books Indiespensible Subscription Box Review - Vol. 50 Letter

This box came with a letter from the Powell’s team celebrating the 50th box in the subscription – it started in March 2008!

Powell's Books Indiespensible Subscription Box Review - Vol. 50 Puny

All My Puny Sorrows Signed First Edition – Value ? (Retail Value of Hardcover book is $24.00).

This book comes with an custom slipcase made just for subscribers. Considering that the Amazon hardcover price is a little less than $17, I love that they include these exclusive extras – it adds to the value and makes the package feel more special than just buying the book on its own.

Powell's Books Indiespensible Subscription Box Review - Vol. 50 Info

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

Powell's Books Indiespensible Subscription Box Review - Vol. 50 Interview

Powell's Books Indiespensible Subscription Box Review - Vol. 50 Chocolate

Signed copy of Loitering New & Collected Essays by Charles D’Ambrosio – Value? (Retail Value $16)

Pitch Dark Chocolate Jacobsen Salt Co. Pinot Noir Salt & Chocolate Bar – Value $6?

Here’s a description of Loitering from Amazon:

Charles D’Ambrosio’s essay collection Orphans spawned something of a cult following. In the decade since the tiny limited-edition volume sold out its print run, its devotees have pressed it upon their friends, students, and colleagues, only to find themselves begging for their copy’s safe return. For anyone familiar with D’Ambrosio’s writing, this enthusiasm should come as no surprise. His work is exacting and emotionally generous, often as funny as it is devastating. Loitering gathers those eleven original essays with new and previously uncollected work so that a broader audience might discover one of our great living essayists. No matter his subject — Native American whaling, a Pentecostal “hell house,” Mary Kay Letourneau, the work of J. D. Salinger, or, most often, his own family — D’Ambrosio approaches each piece with a singular voice and point of view; each essay, while unique and surprising, is unmistakably his own.

I’m really excited to read both of these books – and a nice chocolate bar is always welcome!

Verdict: Thank you to everyone who recommended I sign up for this subscription – it really does feel special, and I can’t wait to start reading my new books! The value is a little harder to calculate with this subscription since both books are signed, and All My Puny Sorrows also came with an exclusive custom cover, but I definitely feel like I got my money’s worth.

What do you think of Volume 50 from Powell’s Indiespensable?

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. This looks fantastic! I am going to have to get as second job to pay for all these subscription boxes! LOL

  2. Does anyone know when Vol. 51 ships? I am getting antsy and it looks so interesting!!!

    • It should be shipping next week. I spoke to them earlier in the month and they told me the end of January.

      • Just rec’d notification that my Indiespensible #51 has shipped. It will be my first and I am very excited!

  3. E-Readers are nice but, I have always loved the feel of a book. There is something about sitting down and reading something tangible, turning the actual pages instead of sweeping your finger, that I just love. That said, I have been avoiding book subscriptions because the choices weren’t especially well curated in my opinion. Not so with Powell’s!! I can’t believe I didn’t know about this subscription before this review!! I was able to sign up for the next shipment #51. The book to be included is called Wolf Winter and it is a Scandinavian murder-mystery set in the 1700’s amongst the Swedish Laplanders. This is right up my alley!! Can’t wait!!

  4. This is my absolute favorite subscription- actually tied with popsugar. I have subscribed for over a year and discovered new favorite authors. The curation is really awesome.

    I live in Austin and have been to book people. While I am a fan of the store, this subscription looks way better than theirs. I am sure with time it will be just as good though. 🙂

  5. Powell’s has book descriptions too.

    • Is that something different than what is being reviewed here?

  6. I like this subscription, I may have to sign up. I have been to Powell’s, it’s an amazing bookstore.

  7. This was my first month, too, and I love it!

    I think it’s better than BookRiot and other book subs for multiple reasons, but the biggest one is curation. The Powell’s name means you’re sure to get books of a very high literary quality, and Indiespensable seems geared less toward readers of popular fiction than other book subs. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE good popular fiction, too, but that’s a category that is very easy to find all on its own without the need for a subscription.

    The other thing is, Powell’s has nailed how to add value to a book sub. You can easily find titles for cheap online, but the signed first editions of very high-quality books, along with the custom slipcase? For a book lover, those things are priceless.

    NOTE to anyone trying to subscribe: I’ve noticed that once the current box ships, they close the subscription path–which is why there is no button to subscribe. Just bookmark the link and check back in a month or so (they do a box every six weeks). When they put up the info about the new box, they’ll open the subscription path again.

    • Thanks for the tip about the subscription path!

  8. This was my first month with this subscription and I am in love with both of the book selections. The chocolate was gone in a second too (of course) and was delicious. I want to thank the Liz’s readers for turning me to this sub, I really do think it is the BEST book subscription box out there.

  9. Another subscription to think about in 2015! I love books and been trying to ignore the book subs, but this one looks great.

  10. Looks like a great subscription! I used to live in Portland and miss Powell’s so much. No surprised they’d put out such a thoughtful box for bilbiophiles. Will have to drop another one so I can pick this one up!

  11. This subscription looks awesome! I can’t believe I didn’t know about it. Thanks for the review. My boyfriend would love this and now I’m thinking of getting it for him as a Christmas gift.

  12. Yay, Liz! I’m so glad you subscribed to Indiespensables!!! It’s helped me find/read books that I ordinarily would have said, “No, not my style.” I love that they have the actual author’s signature and not just a pasted on book plate. It’s kinda nice to know that the author held my book while being signed. (I know this sounds weird. I’ve loved and treasured books all my life. In elementary school, the best day each year was Book Fair Day!) I will also say that Powell’s customer service is top notch. I emailed them and asked to hold my books for three days because I had no money until pay day. They did and were very gracious about it. I hope to be able to visit one day. When I called about the delay of payment, I told the cs guy that I wanted to fly in with an empty suitcase and spend a few days there. He said people do that all the time and if I decided to do that he would give me a few hotel and restaurant recs. that were close to the store.
    (I’ll stop drooling now!)

    • Book fair day WAS the best day. I always got mad that my Mom limited me to three books. She’s a smart lady because I would have spent her whole paycheck on books if she let me.

      • LOL Jillian! Another book nerd – yay! Yes, the book fair was awesome, but also caused more than a few tears when Mom said “No, that’s enough!” The gift of books (and reading) is a wonderful thing.

  13. Been a subscriber for a year now and I am never disappointed. A majority of the books they sent this year ended up on the best of 2014 list just released by the New York Times this past week, so they know how to pick them. I’m building a beautiful library from theses books.

  14. FYI Austin’s indie book store, BookPeople, has just started a subscription box somewhat like this one. It’s called Trust Fall and I loved my first shipment!

    • Thanks for letting us know – looking into this now! 🙂

    • Thanks Cara! I just looked into this, and signed up. It is a quarterly subscription, $140 for the year, or you can buy the first box (which looks awesome, and has a signed First Edition of Station Eleven, which was Sept Amazon book of month and has been receiving major accolades) for $39 plus shipping. Hurry people. First box (Fall) still available with quarterly purchase!

      • Where is the option for quarterly and/or yearly?

  15. I think I’d like both of these books. Once they’re able to take more subscribers, I’d be interested in signing up. I’ve looked at Book Riot before but they never seem to have books I would want to read personally. The risk with BR of me being disappointed was always too high. On the other hand, I think Powell’s box would make me quite happy.

  16. My brain must be fried from shopping because I can’t find the place on the website to sign up for this subscription. Can anyone link me better than the above link please? Or perhaps point out where on that linked page (that I am just not seeing) is the place for the subscription information, please? Thank you very much. This is going on my Christmas list.

    • I couldn’t find it either, so I emailed them a bit ago. They’ve already responded (!!) and said that they are full now, but will be adding spots later this month or in January, so keep checking back. I’m going to subscribe to their newsletter, as perhaps that will say when they have more spots available. This looks like a great subscription!

      • Thank you for being pro-active and for responding to me. I think I signed up for the newsletter also.

  17. I also received this box and was so excited to get two signed books! Just so awesome! I started reading Loitering first as I wanted to get more into non-fiction (I read fiction all of the time). Love, love, love this subscription and my most favorite book club!

  18. This month was the first time I subscribed and I was delighted. I thought, how did I not know about this for the first 50?!? I sat by the tree, ate my chocolate and contemplated which book to read first. Fun!

  19. What a great subscription! I am from Portland, but moved to Kansas City 8 years ago. I go back as often as possible. I took my 14-year-old daughter there this summer and we visited Powell’s. She loved it!

    I might have to sign up for this…

  20. Work in a rare & collectors book store, so work with collectors wanting 1st editions. The really nice thing about Powells book club is some of these signed first editions will be worth more money than what you pay for them originally. Example, they have signed first editions from authors that later on went on to be big sellers or authors like: Jonathan Franzen, Jeffrey Eugenides, Ann Patchett or J. M. Coetzee. Their signed 1st editions often triple their original price. Its a great book subscription. Add Miriam Toews too that list.

  21. Powells bookstore is my favorite! I miss being lost there for hours always finding something new to love! I will have to sign up for this because I love their recommendations and personality! They are the largest independent bookstore in US, a square city block and multiple levels to boot!

  22. Probably my favorite subscription box. I was with them from the beginning, but had to stop due to a job layoff & no prospects. Their quality is beyond great as is customer service, & it’s amazing to me how many books they send end up being bestsellers &on the years best-of lists.

  23. OOooOoooh! This looks AMAZING. I’m a book nerd and I’m obsessed with Portland, OR. Powell’s is an ENORMOUS independent bookstore there. I’ve always wanted to go and now I could have a piece of it delivered to my doorstep.

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