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Powell’s Books Indiespensable Subscription Review – Vol. 56


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:



City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg – Retail Value $30 (On Amazon for $18)

Book Summary from Amazon:

New York City, 1976. Meet Regan and William Hamilton-Sweeney, estranged heirs to one of the city’s great fortunes; Keith and Mercer, the men who, for better or worse, love them; Charlie and Samantha, two suburban teenagers seduced by downtown’s punk scene; an obsessive magazine reporter and his idealistic neighbor—and the detective trying to figure out what any of them have to do with a shooting in Central Park on New Year’s Eve.

The mystery, as it reverberates through families, friendships, and the corridors of power, will open up even the loneliest-seeming corners of the crowded city. And when the blackout of July 13, 1977, plunges this world into darkness, each of these lives will be changed forever.

City on Fire is an unforgettable novel about love and betrayal and forgiveness, about art and truth and rock ’n’ roll: about what people need from each other in order to live . . . and about what makes the living worth doing in the first place.



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:



Ranger Chocolate – Value $6

This chocolate is made with just two ingredients: organic cacao and organic cane sugar. I don’t always like dark chocolate, but I enjoyed this. (And I love that Powell’s often includes food items from Portland!)

Verdict: I’m always happy with this subscription, but I’m not sure how I feel about this box yet. This book is getting a lot of press, and I’m interested in reading it – but it is 900+ pages! That’s a little intimidating to me for a book that has somewhat mixed reviews. At the same time, I like this subscription for pushing me out of my reading comfort zone, so they delivered there!

I was also expecting either another book or item based on what they’ve sent in the past, so I was a little disappointed there.

What do you think of Volume 56?

Powell's Indiespensable

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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!

Posted in Book Subscription Boxes, Powell's Indiespensable Reviews, Subscription Box Reviews, UK Subscription Box Reviews| Tags: Powell's Indiespensable | 27 comments

Comments (27)

  1. Looks like an interesting read but I agree with the lack of value this month. I dumped this sub a few months ago for Book People’s Trustfall subscription at the same cost. I love that they guarantee a second book. I do love the concept and supporting local bookstores but I wish this one had a better overall value.

  2. Seeing as they’re giving us this for free I was even happy to get an extra chocolate!

  3. Yeah, I was really hoping for two books as well. But, I started reading City on Fire, and I actually really like it! The chocolate bar is good, but it is also really small.

  4. Miranda: I had exactly the same thing except that this would have been my second box. I was exceptionally disappointed because I had emailed them 2 days after the order was supposed to have shipped asking why they hadn’t charged my card yet. They said there had been a ‘snag in the shipping process’ and that my order would be leaving the warehouse soon. Only, 2 weeks later I received the same email as you did saying that there had been a ‘subscription processing error’ and I would not be receiving this volume. Why on earth they couldn’t have told me this when I originally emailed them, I don’t know. Very annoyed.

    • Heather,

      Ugh! That is annoying. I hope they get their ducks lined up for future boxes. Would hate to lose a potentially amazing sub because of shoddy service.

      • At least you received a notification saying you weren’t getting the box. I kept checking my account for weeks until my status changed from “On Order” to “Cancelled”. I emailed about it and the response gave me no real answer. Only that they were ‘looking into it’.

  5. Well, considering that this one book is 900+ pages, that is probably why they only sent one. Just my thoughts – but I was happy & the book sounds great.

  6. I’m underwhelmed with this box. The book sounds very interesting, but overall I don’t think this box was worth the 40$ I paid.

  7. Does seem light this month compared to the past months offerings. Looks like a good read though.

  8. I’ve been subscribed for several years (my first sub box before I knew such a thing existed!) and this was probably the worst box in terms of extras. The plastic on the stack was ripped on mine, and I really thought my package was missing something, but it wasn’t! Ah well, I hope value doesn’t go down with the influx of new subscribers.

    • Well if so that is how you also loose those new subscribers.

  9. I managed to sign up for this subscription the last time MSA posted the availability. Then I got an email last week saying that there was an error and I wasn’t going to get this shipment! What in the world, such a disappointment and they gave no legit reason. Instead they said I’d get the one coming out in January “at no cost” even though I’ve already paid for this subscription. Pretty peeved, and I wonder if anyone else had this issue??

    • OK just re-read the email. Correction: I hadn’t paid for the subscription yet, and they are sending the January-ish box for free since this was their mistake, a “subscription processing error.” Just to clarify, since this makes it not such a bad situation. It still sucks not to receive the subscription, I’ve been waiting forever to get in!!

      • I had the same thing happen to me except this would have been my second box. What’s even more annoying is, is that I had emailed them a week or so before this to ask them why I hadn’t been charged for the shipment and they said my box would be leaving the warehouse soon. I don’t know why they couldn’t have told me then that I was not going to be receiving this volume. Very disappointed.

    • That’s the second time this year that has happened. I think the July book or maybe June was the same. Lots of people were notified they wouldn’t get t after all and would get a “special extra” in the next box or something. I still got the book so I have no idea what the special extra was if it existed.

      • It was a Powell’s magnet, water bottle & June snack.

    • Yes! Exact same thing happened to me. So disappointed!

    • Had this issue back in the summer. They just sent extras the next shipment. Got a nice water bottle, extra snacks and a magnet as extras. It was a pretty large box. Basically both boxes combined without the 1st book.

      • Unfortunately it was the book I was excited about 🙁

  10. I was disappointed this month. I definitely didn’t feel like it was a good value. Past boxes have been great so it’s not like I’m going to cancel, but my husband was urging me to! He doesn’t get subs though.

    I am still kicking myself though…the first month I subscribed to this box was when “All the Light We Cannot See” was sent. Signed, first edition, slipcover…I read it, then sold it to Third Place Books for a few bucks. Then it won the Pulitzer…

    • Holy crud! That book was destined for greatness way before the Pulitzer. Yikes, to have had a first edition signed copy would be amazing!

      • Right? I’m an idiot! 🙂

    • Oh no! That would have been a wonderful signed first edition! Really enjoyed that book. I’m not yet subscribed to this box but it’s on my wishlist so I’m curious about how subscribers feel about the value and book selection.

  11. This is my first shipment for this subscription, unfortunately, I’ve read the book. It was worth all of the 900+ pages, excellent reading. I am keeping this box because I’d like a fresh signed copy. I am hoping the next shipment will be book I have not yet read. Good choice though!

  12. First, this is my favorite subscription. This months book is interesting and different. So glad it was the selection. Very disappointed in the overall box. The chocolate was good but a small bar. Paying $39 for basically a book doesn’t cut it. That is too of an expensive subscription even if its a first edition. Didn’t like this months box at all.

  13. I was disappointed because I’d finally been able to get this sub after months of waiting, and had gifted it to a voracious reader and told said gift recipient to expect two books. So, obviously, we were both disappointed that there was only one book. Also, neither one of us noticed that it was signed (glad I read this review… will tell her). I’d been pleased with all their past boxes (when I sadly hadn’t been able to get the sub yet), so hopefully the next box is more of a win for us. With only one book, it’s more of a gamble that the recipient will like the box – with two books, that’s double the chance that the recipient will get at least one book they like.

    • I wasn thrilled with the extra this time, but I think they’ve spoiled us with the 2nd books. I have to remind myself that the arcs aren’t typical.

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