I was pondering joining the Science Fiction Book Club, but remembered my days with Columbia House (soooo many years ago); prices weren’t terrible, but the shipping and handling was outrageous. Does anyone still use these places to buy their movies, books, or music?
I am a member of Quality Paperback Book Club and I think it’s a pretty good deal. They don’t charge outrageous postage, which is something that outrages me, and while the bonus point plan changed a couple of years ago (you used to be able to get free books, and now you can get them for a low price + bonus points), I’ve gotten a lot of good reference books cheap. Plus no membership agreement.
I used to buy CDs from BMG Music back in the 90s. The more I used it, the better savings I got such as buy two, get three free, so it started offsetting the shipping. They bought their competitor Columbia House in 2005 and stopped shipping music recordings in 2009, although they still have a video club. Nowadays I buy my music from Amazon, mostly just skipping buying the pysical CD and getting a digital download.
Which put a thought in my head. Have you considered buying a Kindle and getting books in electronic format?
My wife belongs to QPBC and the History Book Club. They work much better than in the past, since you can get online to tell them not to ship their selections.
IIRC, Columbia House prices were terrible; you paid full list and no store ever charged that even in their heyday.
The best I knew of was Record Club of America, which didn’t have the negative refusal deal; each month they’d send you a catalog and you’d pick things. Prices were excellent, even when you added S&H. They ran afoul of the law due to their S&H policies (a record that sold in the stores would be, say, $5.00. RCA would sell them at $1.99 plus $0.75 S&H. For some reason, some state attorneys general thought this was misleading). They went under in the early 70s.
That record club. The first nine were only a penny. But then they jacked up the price!!!
Yeah, if you bought one at time, it could be a real ripoff, especially once you factored in S&H.
But often times with the deals they had (buy one get one for $2.99 or buy two and get three free and so forth) it would balance out and with S&H you’d up paying about $9 or $10 per CD.
I joined up several times when I was a teen, but always ended up canceling because I kept forgetting to send the card back and got a bunch of CDs I didn’t want. Sometimes I’d return them, sometimes I wouldn’t and just paid for them.
Now that I think of it, though, I’m not sure I ever bought the six full-priced CDs that I needed to as part of the deal to get the nine CDs for a penny at the beginning. Still they never objected to my canceling, nor bill me full price for the introductory CDs.
I do want an e-reader, but I’m waiting for that magical device that will have a bright colorful e-ink screen that can be turned off or replaced with an LED screen for tablet use.
By the way, I’m not going to join the book club. Just curious if the clubs are still used.
I belonged to Record Club of America. They were cool because, as mentioned, there was no featured item you had to refuse, and there was no commitment of any kind. Plus, you weren’t limited to their catalog. You could get a copy of the Schwann Record and Tape Guide, which listed every recording in print, and order anything. If you lived in a small town and had obscure tastes, it was about the only way to feed your habit back then.
A long time ago, I had a subscription to the SF book club. However, I would neglect to send in the postcard, or I’d never get it in the first place, so I’ve got a lot of crappy SF books that I couldn’t stand to read.
One of my life rules now is to never sign up for anything that has a negative buying option.
I belonged to the SFBC for a while, about a decade ago. I was terrible about sending the darned selection cards back, and so, I wound up with a number of books I didn’t really want. That was about the time they started allowing you to reply to the monthly offerings online, which did help.
However, I discovered that the one thing which they would not let you do online was to quit the club…to do that, you had to send them a letter. Which I did.
I still get a “please come back!” mailing from SFBC at least once a month. Pests.
I also belong to the QPBC. It’s much better nowadays because you can respond to the monthly offers via its website. No more mailing back response cards. I don’t buy a lot from them, but do take advantage of promos to stock up on books that are on my list. The 2 for 1 with free shipping deals are good. I used to belong to the BOMC as well as the SFBC, but got tired of them. I mainly use the book clubs to stay abreast of the latest pubs in the areas that interest me.
I used to do the Columbia House DVD club. I learned (on other message boards) that people had it down to a science, so I followed their advice. Minimizing your cost per DVD involved joining/fulfilling/cancelling/rejoining… over and over again, waiting for the specials (free shipping, 2 for 1, sales on box sets, etc.), and building up credits that you could apply to future purchases. So I bought a lot of DVDs over the course of three years, but with a pretty low cost per movie.
Netflix changed it all for me. I can get movies (on Blu-Ray even) mailed to my house in a couple of days and I send it back whenever I want. If I want to watch a movie again, I’ll just put it back on my queue whenever I feel like it. Or I can stream a lot of titles through my internet to my TV, many in HD quality. I still have all my DVD’s, but now I only buy new stuff on blu-ray, and I only buy two or three of those a year. Columbia House has (I think) a relatively small selection of blu-rays available in their DVD club, but they don’t have a full-blown BR club. If they did, I might join to upgrade some of my favorites from DVD to BR.
I don’t respond to the monthly offers at all. I’m on an order-only basis. If I don’twant it, I don’t have to do anything.
I just canceled my membership to the Military Book Club. I couldn’t remember to get online and decline the selection of the month in time, and I averaged about one unwanted duet of books a year. My fault, not theirs.
The idea ain’t half bad, in my opinion. They did seem to offer titles that I didn’t notice elsewhere. Decent advertisement gimick, because you are restricting the titles to the genre (history, sci-fi, whatever) you are interested in. I could probably find the titles on Amazon, but it would involve more effort in weeding out the stuff I don’t want.
I used to belong to several book clubs: Science Fiction, History, and Military (they’re all the same company). I found them to be a good deal if you were someone (like me) who was buying that type of book anyway. It was not a good deal if you ended up buying books you were only marginally interested in in order to fulfill your obligation. It was also good when they allowed the option of managing your membership online - because you definitely lose if you end up getting their monthly choices that you didn’t want and neglected to “un-order”.
Columbia House is still mailing circulars so someone must be.
I joined a long time ago, and recently cancelled Columbia House DVD club for the same reasons Tangent mentioned. It has been a couple years since I bought a DVD from them, and the only reason I even thought to cancel was that my email address changed, and I forgot to update, so I have a copy of RED coming my way. Oh well, it not supposed to be a bad movie, though I paid full retail for it…
I don’t ever see a reason to join again…