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The Fantasy & Science Fiction Book Club (FSF) is an online and catalogue based book club, offering readers the chance to purchase Fantasy and Science Fiction books, at great savings against the recommended retail price (RRP).
*Introductory Offer from FSF*
I originally joined FSF in June 03, on the recommendation of a friend, and have purchased many books from the FSF website. I rarely use the catalogue to order from as I find it time consuming, and like to receive a confirmation of my order via the online ordering section.
I was actually enticed, like so many before me, by the offer off:
“Any 5 Books from just 50p each!”
Whereby the customer is asked to choose from a pre-selected range of books 5 Titles that they would like. Each book is priced at a minimum of 50p, with several of the more popular (or multi-pack selections) ranging in price up to £5.00. The range of books available for the offer, include Editors Choice, Graphic Novels, Humour and Science Fiction.
Once you have chosen your 5 books you are immediately taken to stage 2 of the application where you verify your chosen choices and make any changes if necessary. If you are happy with your choices you will be asked to enter your personal details and confirm your order. Normally FSF will then send you your chosen books along with an invoice that requires payment within 14 days. On your invoice will also be your new membership number, of which you will need to create your online account, in order to purchase books from their website.
Remember you are under no obligation to join after completing the application, as detailed above. The items you have chosen are sent to you on a 10-day home trial, and if you are not satisfied you return them to FSF, and they will cancel your membership.
*FSF Club Commitment*
As like many other book clubs, there is a club commitment that needs to be fulfilled. FSF ask that you buy at least 1 title from each magazine (Full colour magazines are sent out every two months) for a minimum of 4 magazines. Ordering can be done either online or via the magazine.
Please note that a multi-pack selection counts as 1 title.
Included in each magazine is a top title that FSF recommend as the Editor’s Choice. They will automatically send you the Editor’s choice unless your advise them it is not required for that particular magazine period. You can do this by returning the magazines ordering form, or via the website.
After you have purchased the minimum number of books from FSF you can send them an e-mail to let them no you no longer wish to receive the Editor’s Choice. I tried this before the club commitment had been fulfilled but my request was ignored.
*FSF home magazine*
The FSF magazine is sent out to all customers every 2 months. Each edition is full of the latest titles available and quite often includes some old favourites, and a special offer section.
Occasionally there are Special Author features, which can include a preview chapter of the author’s latest release.
*Membership - Available Books*
FSF do specialise in Fantasy and Science Fiction, but if you purchase via their website (once you are registered as a member) you are also able to buy books and other products from Club Extra categories such as:
Bookstore – Biography, Children, Fiction, Home and Garden etc DVD & Video – TV Shows, Movies etc Gifts and Games – PC Games, XBOX Essentials etc Partner Offers – Personalised Jigsaws, Date of Birth Newspapers etc Music – Classical, Dance, Rock, Soundtracks etc
I have listed some of the main categories below, so you can see an example of the prices FSF are charging, in comparison to the retail price.
1. Editors Choice – Currently “Traitor’s Knot, Shadowmarch/Going Postal” by Wurts/Williams/Pratchett and is on offer for £21.97, a saving of £33.00 on the published price of £54.97.
2. Discworld – A must section for all Pratchetts fans, books currently available include “Night Watch” for £9.99 (RRP £17.99) and “Going Postal” for £10.99 (RRP £17.99)
3. Science Fiction – “The Snow” by Adam Roberts £10.99 (RRP £17.99)
4. Other Main Categories include – Star Wars, Star Trek, Fantasy, Horror, Humour, and Buffyverse etc. covering authors such as Tad Williams, Stephen King, Raymond E. Feist and Ian Irvine.
When I originally joined FSF I generally received my deliveries within 14 working days, with the only exception being over the Christmas period when I had to wait 21 days for my order to come back into stock and to be dispatched. I did receive an email from FSF advising me of the delay so this wasn’t a problem. However in September 04 my partner also signed up to FSF, keen to experience the great savings, but so far hasn’t even received his introductory set of books! The order was placed and accepted in September, and he received a confirmation from FSF to say his account was activated and delivery would be paid within 14 days. 3 weeks later he received a letter, explaining that due to unprecedented demand for FSF membership they were behind with new orders but would expect delivery to be made shortly. Approximately a month later (November) he received another apologetic letter, this time with a free Christmas CD, advising his account would be dealt with ASAP. We have now sent them an e-mail asking them to urgently update us on the status of his account (his online account shows no orders awaiting delivery) but as of January 05 we haven’t heard anything.
Postage charges are also a flat rate of £2.99 per order, regardless of the number of books ordered, so essentially a good saving if you are ordering products in bulk.
Paying for the books is relatively easy, especially with the online account management facilities. You can pay using a number of different Credit Cards, namely MasterCard, Visa, Delta and Switch, or you can send a cheque to the company direct once your statement is received (payment is due within 10 days of receipt of statement).
The online website is a secure site, using VeriSign Services, and currently has a security certificate valid from 12th November 04 to 1st December 06, so you shouldn’t have any worries about sending payment online.
1. Book prices are low, and very rarely would you have to pay even close to the recommended retail price. The standard Hardback comes in at £9.99, and many paperbacks can be found at £5.99 or less. 2. Wide range of Science Fiction and Fantasy authors of whom many are hard to find in retail outlets. 3. Online and offline account management 4. Very good introductory offer – 5 books from 50p. 5. Great magazine offers e.g. BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free)
1. Club Commitment of 1 book for a minimum of 4 magazines. 2. Editors Choice automatic unless you remember to reject their offer, either online or via the order form. 3. Delivery times are appalling at the moment (2004/05) 4. It takes 28 days for payments, orders, credits of refunds to appear on your online account, and offline account statements are generally 2 weeks behind real time. 5. Minimal contact from Customer Services with regards to queries.
If my experiences of FSF had been limited to my own personal account then I would probably recommend the company. However after the lack of customer service, delivery and help from FSF with respect to my partner’s order my opinion of FSF has certainly weakened. It may well be that the company is experiencing a severe backlog of orders with respect to a popularity increase, but that popularity can just as easily fall if members orders are not fulfilled or they are not made fully aware of the current situation.
Good review, even covered the downside. Are things still running smoothly for you with them? I used to be a member but things went a bit pear shaped when they sent me a ripped book, soon after that I canceled my account which took far to long (sent them loads of letters + emails, tried phoning but, either couldn't get through or they couldn't understand what I was asking them to do (kinda like why would someone want to cancel?)), even after they finally accepted my cancellation I still got the odd phone call offering me the deal of the day.
icatsai 24.04.2005 01:31
I used to be a member with these guys about 10 years ago, doesn't sound like things have improved. My biggest bugbear was with the commitment, I found myself just ordering the cheapest thing some months because there was nothing I wanted. After 5 years and a lot of unwanted books later, I quit. Good review, I look forward to reading more --- Arla
karenes 08.02.2005 11:23
I love a good Fantasy! just read the latest from Stephen Donaldson. Might give this a go! K x