Powell’s Indiespensable Review

I finally got my first subscription box yesterday from the Powells Indiespensable Book Club. It shipped on 5 Feb, which is only 19 days in transit – not too bad for Portland to NZ

I was so excited to join this club. I sat on the waitlist for months to get in. My subscription started in November, but apparently they forgot to actually send me the box, then ran out, so I just got the first one yesterday.

For all my anticipation, color me disappointed, in a Fifth Element kind of way.

The book for February is Samantha Hunt’s Mr Splitfoot. This is a “contemporary gothic” with a “dual narrative structure,” which sounds amazing and I’m excited to start it. The book is in a lovely hardcover binding, signed, with an embossed paper jacket, and a gorgeous matching slipcover. So, yeah, 10/10 for the quality and choice of the book.



The club blurb promises that as well as the curated reading selection, “every package is stocked with exciting surprises!” Woot! This is actually what I signed up for. A box full of booky surprises!

Here they are:

1) An ARC of Fever at Dawn by Peter Gardos. This book is apparently A Big Deal, and will no doubt be a movie at some point soon, which, because it features the Holocaust, will probably win someone an Oscar. However it’s not my kind of book, so I’ll be finding a new recipient for it. And also, an ARC? Really? It’s not the kind of thing I have in mind when I think “exciting surprises,” tbh. Not when I’m paying for it.

fever at dawn.jpg

2) A bar of chocolate:


I was actually trying to be sugar free (excluding alcohol)  although I slipped and fell on a chocolate cookie a few weeks back back. Okay, two cookies. Mouth first. However I am entirely defenceless against chocolate smuggling itself inside my house. I will give you one guess how much chocolate is left.


3) A tiny forest green book.


I was super excited when I saw it, thinking it was a novelty blank notebook branded with the book name. But no. It was an interview with Samantha Hunt. *le sigh* Look, Powells, this is marketing material paid for by the publisher. Don’t pretend you’re doing me a favor by shipping it to me.

interview int

So, yeah. Those were my exciting surprises.

Here’s the thing. The basic box costs US$39.95, but because of international shipping I pay US$52. I’m fairly sure y’all will agree with me when I say I don’t feel I received $52 of value. It gets worse in my own county’s play money: this cost me $78 in New Zealand dollars, which yes, given relative purchasing power, is an amount exactly as large as it sounds. I do not wish to piss away $78 every six weeks.

A hardback copy of Mr. Splitfoot costs NZ$32.46, including shipping, right now at bookdepository.com. Ok, so it won’t be signed, but all respect to Ms Hunt, proof she touched this exact book really isn’t that big a deal to me. And should, for some reason, this become worth a fortune in the future, I’m pretty sure a book dealer will think I just scrawled in this myself, with a Bic.


QED: I paid $46 NZ for a bar of chocolate and an ARC I don’t want. Only, upside! because of the aforesaid mixup with the November subscription box, I don’t think I paid for it. Powells shipped this at no charge. I’m just slightly unclear if they already charged me for the November box I didn’t get, or not, and I’m not prepared to waste any time finding out, because I have better things to do. Like write xeno porn. So, I may or may not have paid $46 for a bar of chocolate and an ARC I don’t want.

Either way, I’ll be cancelling my subscription. I’d rather just see what book they’re shipping each month, buy it, and spend the balance on delectable overpriced Japanese stationery on Etsy.

Anyone have a great subscription box they recommend?


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