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I've been a member of FSF since my student days over 13 years ago and to be honest rely on it for most of my purchases. I initially joined World Books, part of Book Club Association (BCA), through a magazine advert and then, through a leaflet drop with that club, discovered FSF Book Club, also part of BCA.
My first point would be that they have a long standing history as a reputable company, you aren't going to get ripped off in any way and the deals they offer are 100% genuine. Being fair to all book sellers, FSF is not quite as competitive on stand alone book offers as they were when I first joined by the time you add postage costs on (usually £2.99). With such a variety of discount book stores and online sites like Amazon, its certainly possible to find cheaper books. However, having said that, I've found no other club that's as convenient to use from home, as reliable with orders and that offers such great deals on sets of books. I've terminated my membership of FSF several times and the beauty of that is getting the Introductory Offer several times as well. There is never any problem over re-joining.
Buyers should be aware that although you are offered 5 books (or sets) from 25p or 50p, "from" is the key word here. Some items will be considerably more. For instance a book on graphic art aimed at a more specific market may well be priced higher than a Terry Pratchett paperback. The highest price I've seen on one of these starter offers is £8.00 on a Lord Of The Rings Illustrated edition, not unreasonable when you consider the publisher's price is £45.00. Its worth mentioning that if you introduce a friend who places an order, you also get a bonus such as 3 free books for yourself from the starter offers and don't even have to pay postage.
My Introductory Offer this time around came to £6.99 for which I got the following:
The Elder Gods by David and Leigh Eddings Dragon's Kin by Anne and Todd McCaffrey New Spring by Robert Jordan Snare by Katherin Kerr and (a 2 book set by Terry Goodkind) The Pillars of Creation and Naked Empire
Each book was in hardback version with exception of Snare. Not bad huh?
Once you're a member you're committed to buying a book from every magazine for the first 4 mags you get. Be aware that not all of the special offers and sets count towards your membership.
You also have access to other special deals such as pre-ordering books due to be published, buy two get one free, sales supplements, special edition books, extra leaflets offering access to other book clubs such as History or to DVD and Music offers and the chance to win extra items like a limited edition replica Darth Vader lightsaber!! (If you're into that kind of thing!)
The FSF web site is simple to register with, easy to navigate, colourful and split into straightforward categories. It provides a chance for you to pay and order online, access to web site specific deals and a way to track any orders or outstanding deliveries.
The web site and magazine provide, quite simply, the best range of Sci-Fi and Fantasy material I've found anywhere. Since it is genre specific, you never have to hunt for that next book in a series again. First time authors are profiled and there are member reviews as well as the Editors Choices. I have to mention that although the Editors Choices can be inconvenient, they can also coincide with your own tastes!! Quite often the book I want by a major author is also the Editor's Choice. The books available include everything from graphic art and comic books to TV legends like Buffy and Angel or high profile series and films like Star Wars and Star Trek to Horror novels. There is essentially something for everyone who has an interest in this area including Limited Editions,Illustrated Editions and Leatherbound Editions of authors like Tolkien and Pratchett. Another thing I like about FSF is the ability to get books from US which aren't always available in UK book shops or books written by authors under another pseudonym. A useful addition to the facilities available.
All in all, if you love sci-fi and fantasy, this has to be the safest, most convenient way to order your books with the best savings. Customer Services have in my experience always been prompt and helpful and the pros definitely outweigh the cons. I've rarely found books to be out of stock and only now and then are deliveries late. When this does happen, I'm sent one or two vouchers for £2.50 each to redeem against my next order along with a note of apology. You really can't ask for more.
I belonged to the book club years ago but I only had the compulsory four books for the year and then cancelled my membership. Compared with other book clubs this was very easy to do and the customer service were always very polite and helpful. Nice useful review. Thank you. Fionaxx
MAFARRIMOND 22.01.2005 07:21
I've long been a fan of science fiction. A good review. Maureen