Powell's Books Indispensable is a book subscription box by the iconic bookstore in Portland, Oregon.
Every 6-8 weeks, subscribers will receive another box of expertly curated new books with a focus on indie publishers. Note that this subscription raised its prices recently. Here's what they said:
Dear valued Indiespensable subscriber,
As the curators of Indiespensable, we place the highest importance on offering unique, collectible books along with additional value that exceeds the amount we charge per installment.
Since we launched the program in 2008, we have maintained our commitment to these high standards. Unfortunately, the cost of books, slipcases, and shipping has climbed significantly. We must regrettably recover some of those cost increases in order to continue providing the same value and quality you expect from the Indiespensable program.
Effective with Volume 66, Borne by Jeff VanderMeer, our new volume price will be $44.95.
Thank you for your continued commitment to Indiespensable. We hope to bring you many more wonderful volumes in the future.
The Indiespensable team
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: $44.95 a shipment (every 6-8 weeks)
The Products: Thoughtfully curated new books, with an interest in indie authors, plus fun extras
Ships to: Shipping is free in the U.S. and $12.00 per package outside the U.S.
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
The volume 68 box features just one book: The Burning Girl by Claire Messud. Indiespensable includes a thorough booklet of insights about the author and their work. I love paging through the articles and interviews in these little reading companions. It really enhances the experience, being able to understand a bit more about the author's intentions.
The Burning Girl by Claire Messud - Value on Amazon $15.57 (Retail Price $25.95)
The book this month comes in the usual hard slipcase, which mirrors the design on the cover of the book.
It's also signed by the author, which is a nice touch. I'm not sure what these "extras" do in terms of the value of the book—I'd imagine the autograph and cover add some degree of value for collectors, though I'm not familiar enough with that market to know just how much.
Book Summary on Amazon:
“A bracing, hypnotic coming-of-age story about the bond of best friends, from the New York Timesbest-selling author of The Emperor’s Children.
Julia and Cassie have been friends since nursery school. They have shared everything, including their desire to escape the stifling limitations of their birthplace, the quiet town of Royston, Massachusetts. But as the two girls enter adolescence, their paths diverge and Cassie sets out on a journey that will put her life in danger and shatter her oldest friendship. The Burning Girl is a complex examination of the stories we tell ourselves about youth and friendship, and straddles, expertly, childhood’s imaginary worlds and painful adult reality―crafting a true, immediate portrait of female adolescence.
Claire Messud, one of our finest novelists, is as accomplished at weaving a compelling fictional world as she is at asking the big questions: To what extent can we know ourselves and others? What are the stories we create to comprehend our lives and relationships? Brilliantly mixing fable and coming-of-age tale, The Burning Girl gets to the heart of these matters in an absolutely irresistible way.
Powell's Northwest Reader Mug - Value $10.00
The second item in the box this month is this little vanilla-colored ceramic mug. It's really sweet and sturdy, with an outdoorsy logo on the front and back. It reminds me of the kind of mug you'd get at a retro diner or during breakfast at an old mountain motel. It has a "Made in China" sticker on the bottom, but there's no other info on the mug about care, etc. I'd imagine it's dishwasher safe, though, given that the site shop does confirm that it's stoneware.
Verdict: I'm liking this installment of Powell’s Books Indiespensable box thus far. I love literature about women (and especially when it's written by women), so I'm finding myself happily engaged in the relatable story of young women going through their teenage years. Messud makes her characters so real, not only in how they interact, but in their psychology. But while I'm thrilled with the book in the box, I'm a little bummed that there's just one. Previous boxes have sent along a second book rather than a book and a gift, and I'm finding myself missing that second piece of literature. The mug is really cute and nice enough quality, but... how do I put this... I go to Powell's for books, not mugs, y'know? So if it's a choice between another book and a bookish gift, I'll always choose the former. Plus, the value of the box was only about $26.00 (or $36.00, if you use the retail price of the book), which is still quite a bit lower than the $45.00 cost of the box. I do 100% believe the booklet of information has a good deal of intangible value, especially for really invested readers. But I feel like this box falls just a bit short of the cost.
What do you think of Volume 68 from Powell’s Books Indiespensable box?