Readers of this blog are presumably fans of the concept of subscription and receiving bookish surprises in the mail, so we thought we'd cater to that by providing you with some insight into the wonderful world of independent publisher subscriptions.
Many independent publishers rely heavily on subscriptions to help them to actually publish books in the first place - you can think of it like backing a Kickstarter but just on an annual or recurring basis. In most cases you pay x amount per year and get x number of books in return - it's a great way to find new stuff since mostly you don't know what you'll get (at least not all that far ahead of time), and a great way to ensure that independent publishers can continue to support the diversity of voices that they currently do. However you do generally just get the books, and they will all be from the same publisher (unless you back multiples!) so if you want gifty stuff and surprise publishers you should still probably get a Ninja Book Box!
Personally I support indies via subscription because I can do it when I have the money (ha) and forget about it and it's a nice surprise as the year rolls on to have books turn up on your doorstep. This year I bought myself a subscription to And Other Stories, and it's quite a kick to see your name in the back of each book, plus being nice to get the book ahead of time. It was my first experience with subscription in this way and I've really liked it so I'm going to be carrying on in 2017 and beyond.
Of course the easiest way to make a decision about who to back is to make a list, so here it is!
Farenheit Press Book Club
This is a truly excellent deal. For £48 you get every single book Farenheit publish in a year. This is estimated to be at least 50 titles in 2016 and includes a wide range of books. You can also spread the cost over three payments, so any way you look at it it's great!
This looks fun because you can subscribe either to receive the essay collections Fitzcarraldo publish or the fiction, or both. For £35 you get four books (either essays or fiction depending) or you can pay £70 for the essays and the fiction, so it's a pretty good deal. Fitzcarraldo was founded in 2014 and publishes literature in translation as well as English language.
I might put this on my Christmas list to be honest. For £95 you get a book a month for a year which will either be a newly released title or a redesigned edition of a backlist title. You also get 25% off everything you buy from Pushkin for a year, and if you're not ready to fully commit you can get a taster subscription - 3 months, 3 books, £30. Pushkin publish some really cool, quirky fiction and nonfiction and their books are super beautiful which is always a bonus.
Another translated fiction specialist - no bad thing in my books as I'm constantly trying to broaden my reading outside of UK and US authors! Get three excellent works of European fiction each year for £35. You'll get them 6 weeks before they're available in bookshops, and you also get a discount on Peirene events, a definite plus if you're in London. Also Peirene specialises in novellas and short novels which means it could be a refreshing change for your TBR pile!
I really love And Other Stories, and this is the publisher who kicked off what's probably an indie subscription addiction for me. You can subscribe to get 2,4, or 6 books per year, and because they're books your money actually pays to get published you'll receive a first edition with your name in the back (they list the names of everyone whose money has gone towards the book). It's pretty great. Plus you get the books before other people do, and they're beautifully put together. And Other Stories publish contemporary fiction from around the world, much of which is translated and all of which is (in my experience) pretty great!