Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Monday, March 17, 2014

Book Riot and Their Quarterly Co. Surprise Box...

There's kind of a fun program from a company called Quarterly Co. that connects you with "people you find interesting". How they connect you is by having you subscribe to a particular person or "curator" that shares your interest and that person or "curator" sends you a surprise package in the mail very 3 months…

I love surprises, so I couldn't resist giving this subscription thing a try. Book Riot,who has a great website with all sorts of bookish news and has contributors who write about bookish things, was the "curator" I connected to, and last week their surprise package came in the mail…

So, now the question… Was it worth it? First, you need to know that there is a cost to subscribing. AND, you can either subscribe to get the shipments every quarter OR you can just try one shipment. Book Riot's subscription was $50 with free shipping if you subscribed, and $50 plus shipping if you wanted to just try one shipment. Even though I though it was a bit pricey, I couldn't resist. Let's see what's in the box…

Upon opening the box, there was a note from Book Riot about what they packed in the box and how they chose what they did…

Next, I found a really neat poster they included from Melville House, entitled "Read Every Where" and the background is a photo of people in old time book mobile. I like the photo, the poster is 11 x 17 on heavy paper. Unfortunately to get it in the box they had to fold it up a few times, so there are heavy creases, but that's ok with me.

Next, I found a neat little pile of books: Judging a Book by Its Lover by Lauren Leto, Parnassus On Wheels by Christopher Morley, and a galley of The Vacationers by Emma Straub. The Vacationers galley was a bonus advanced copy that Book Riot explains in their letter that randomly selected subscribers would receive. Actually there were 4 other galleys that could have been in my box, including Gemini by Carol Cassella (on my wish list). Here's what the books  included are about…

Judging a Book by Its Lover by Lauren Leto… Want to impress the hot stranger at the bar who asks for your take on Infinite Jest? Dying to shut up the blowhard in front of you who’s pontificating on Cormac McCarthy’s “recurring road narratives”? Having difficulty keeping Francine Prose and Annie Proulx straight? For all those overwhelmed readers who need to get a firm grip on the relentless onslaught of must-read books to stay on top of the inevitable conversations that swirl around them, Lauren Leto’s Judging a Book by Its Lover is manna from literary heaven! A hilarious send-up of—and inspired homage to—the passionate and peculiar world of book culture, this guide to literary debate leaves no reader or author unscathed, at once adoring and skewering everyone from Jonathan Franzen to Ayn Rand to Dostoyevsky and the people who read them.

This looks to be a fun read. It's basically Lauren's take on books, readers and writing. My kind of book, gets a thumbs up from "the box".

Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley… Parnassus on Wheels is the story of Roger Mifflin, a sprite like figure who moves through the New England countryside with his traveling book wagon. His story shows how book selling can be one of the world's highest callings, spreading enlightenment with a dose of delight.

Originally written in 1917, and the prequel to Chistopher Morley's Haunted Bookshop, Parnassus on Wheels was reprinted by Melville House Publishing as part of their Art of the Novella Series. The book is a cute little novella. I love the actual physical printing of the book, which is paperback, with a nice cover that also includes a front and back flap integrated into the cover. I look forward to reading this "bookish" story too! Another thumbs up from "the box".

The Vacationers by Emma Straub… For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and nnew humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.

This was a bonus book thrown in randomly to subscribers. My initial thoughts upon leafing through the book is that it really isn't really my cup of tea. The writing didn't grab me, and the story isn't something I would normally pick out. But that's not the fault of whoever put "the box" together, how can you match every book to every subscriber. A for effort, and it's always nice to receive a galley! (still wish it was the book Gemini by Carol Cassella)

My Thoughts on "The Books"… I love the selection of the two books that are actually part of "the box". They're cool because they are about books- Judging a Book by Its Lover is all about books and Parnassus on Wheels is a story taking place around books.

Now onto the other goodies… which include a cool ceramic mug, beautiful brass book darts, a cool kitchen magnet, and a USB drive from Short Story Thursdays. Here's the lowdown on the goodies...

The Mug… I LOVE the mug! It's a good hefty mug, black on the outside and has printed in bright colors names of Banned Books! On the front of the mug there is also the word "Banned" embossed.

The Brass Book Darts… Love them. Something I would probably not buy on my own, but would appreciate as a special gift from someone. They are small and fit delicately on the top of the page you want to keep bookmarked.

The Kitchen Magnet… It says YAY! BOOKS! and went right on the refrigerator. It's not ceramic, just basically a thick piece of magnetic "paper" like you'd get in an office supply to make magnet business cards, and on top of that is glued a glossy piece of paper with the YAY! BOOKS! printed on it. Cute throw in.

The USB Drive from Short Story Thursdays… This USB drive is basically a promo for Short Story Thursdays.  The USB drive contains a video introduction to Short Story Thursdays and the author/creator Jacob Tomsky, 2 videos of Jacob reading a short story and 2 pdf's of different short stories. I thought it was clever to present the material on a USB drive, but it made me feel a little like it was advertising as apposed to a bookish gift. BTW, What is Short Story Thursdays? It's "a weekly, email-based, governmentally recognized not-for-profit short story organization"  and it's "designed to inject literature into your life on a weekly basis in a way that’s never been done before." You can find out more about Short Story Thursdays on Jacob's Website.

So there you have it, the contents of my Quarterly Co. Book Riot Box…

What do I think on the whole? Well, it was fun getting it in the mail, and for the most part I liked everything in the box. Was it worth the money? The actual value of the box is not suppose to be the actual contents. It's suppose to factor in "the experience" with connecting to the person sending it. Here's my estimate of the physical retail value… Books, $26; Mug, $13; Book Darts, $8, Magnet, $3, USB Drive, $0… for a grand total of $50. Of course that's not including shipping costs, and this box was pretty heavy, and that's an estimate of retail, not what someone in the business would pay. But all in all it just didn't feel like $50 worth of bookishness. What do you think? Would you sign up based on this box? Good value? Fun factor increases the value? Let me know what you think. I'm not canceling the subscription yet, I still like surprises, but wondering if I could spend that $50 better.


Vasilly said...

Suzanne, what a timely post! I've seen a few bloggers talking about their quarterly boxes but you're the first to do so in detail. I've been seriously considering buying a book and in fact, did some research yesterday.

You bring up a fantastic point: it didn't feel like $50! Even if the box is "worth" $100, if it doesn't feel like $50, would people keep subscribing? I don't think I would unless I enjoy the contents.

Thanks for this post. Are you going to subscribe to the next quarterly box?

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Vasilly, I'm probably going to give it one more try, but haven't made a definite decision. The whole idea is a good one, but it's not quite there yet. It's almost as if the subscriber is suppose to be more overwhelmed because of who is sending it than what's sent. I guess it comes down to the Wow factor, and I wasn't Wowed.

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Vicki!
Those were my favorite things too!

Mary (Bookfan) said...

After you teased this post a few days ago I was curious to see what was in the box! Although I probably won't subscribe I've added Judging a Book by Its Lover to my wish list :)

Susan said...

Ii have gotten the first 2 boxes. Like you, while they were fun to get, I just didn't feel like I got my money's worth. So I have canceled future shipments.

toniclark said...

Hi, I just happened to see your post (when searching for something else). I subscribed when Book Riot's Quarterly program started. I was definitely not wowed by the first box and immediately cancelled. The first one included the book Lexicon by Max Barry — highly praised, but I couldn't get into it. It had sticky notes in it, said to be hand-written by the author, but who knows? The other things were so-so. A 2014 calendar (too many people give me calendars as gifts), some pencils (didn't know what to do with those, never use them), a couple of other small things. Overall, I don't think it added up to $50 and it didn't feel like $50 to me. I agree with you that it's a great idea, but maybe not there yet. I guess I'd rather pick out my own books to spend $50 on. I still LOVE Book Riot! :)

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