Uncovering the Mystery of the Mystery Guild Book Club
Apr 17, 2006
I read a lot. Mysteries are one of the genres that I enjoy. There are certain authors/series that I also collect, and prefer to buy those books in hardcover. If youve noticed the price of hardcover books, then youll know I could quickly drain my bank account buying hardcover books on a regular basis. Thats why I joined the Mystery Guild book club with their online service.
The Mystery Guild Website
Its simple to join the Mystery Guild. Their website is easy to navigate and walks one step-by-step through signing up for the book club. (Website address: www.mysteryguild.com)
The website home page opens with, Join now and get 6 books for 99 cents. Clicking the Find Out More button opens a page with book selections. This is the page where those six books are chosen. Note: To join the Mystery Guild you must be at least 18 years old and a resident of the United States.
Along the Top
There are several navigation buttons at the top of the page: Home, Search, Browse, About the Club, How to Join, Top 10, Contact Us. There is also a search box located beneath these buttons. You can search by Keyword, Title or Author. I enjoy the Hamish Macbeth novels by M.C. Beaton ... so I typed M.C. Beaton into the search box. The search returned nine results for books featuring both Hamish Macbeth and Beatons other protagonist, Agatha Raisin, as well as an anthology that includes an M.C. Beaton story.
The Browse button opens a page with category listings and subcategories. The main categories include: American Detective, Anthology, Award Winners and Nominees, Bargain Books, Best Sellers, British Mystery, Classic Mystery, Cozy, Historical, Horror, In the Movies, Merchandise, Non-Fiction, Police Procedurals, Read Chapter Excerpts, Spy/Intrigue, Thriller/Suspense.
The subcategories expand on the above listings. For instance, American Detective includes the subcategories of Detectives, Female Investigator, Hard-Boiled. The Cozy category includes these subcategories: Cats & Dogs, Crime a la Carte, Culinary, Traditional/Cozy. Historical is subdivided into American, Egypt, English.
Once you have joined the Mystery Guild, links for Account, Order Status, Help and the Shopping Cart appear at the top right of the page. Along the top of the page are also links for the Main Selections, Sales & Specials, Editors Casebook (interviews with authors), Inner Sanctum (message board).
At the Left
There is a vertical navigation bar at the left of the page that includes all the main categories listed above. However, it does not include the subcategories. Beneath these navigation choices is a featured category with the top five choices.
In case you did not know, the Mystery Guild is owned by Doubleday, and this parent company owns several other book clubs. There are links to some of those book clubs lower on the left side of the page. For instance, you can click on the Science Fiction Book Club link or the link for the Quality Paperback Book Club.
Beneath this there is a link to the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page. You can also sign up for email from the Mystery Guild.
Once you have joined the Mystery Guild, two additional links appear at the top of the navigation bar: New This Month and Coming Soon. Lower on the page is a Whats New and My Mystery Guild area. There are links to view the shopping cart as well as: My Wish List, Edit Billing & Shipping Preferences, E-mail the Editor, E-mail Customer Service.
To the Right
At the right side of the page is a visible area that lists the books in the Shopping Cart. There are spaces numbered 1 - 6 to keep track of the six books chosen to join the club. Beneath this area is a special offer: Buy one more book for the sale price of $4.99 and buy only 3 more books instead of 4 within the next two years. There is also an area that shows the total of the products chosen.
Once you have joined the Mystery Guild, at the top right there is an area titled Main Selection Status. Another section is titled Forensic Files which features some Flash games and computer wallpaper. There are also areas titled: Most Searched Books, Refer a Friend and Get 2 Books Free as well as a listing of recent Edgar Award winners.
In the Middle
Six book covers are featured, three at the top of this middle section and three at the bottom. In the center is a list of hot books. This list includes the book title and author, with the title acting as a link to a dedicated page featuring the book.
Once you have joined the Mystery Guild, there are even more selections shown, including special features.
At the Bottom
The bottom of the page includes text links to Shopping Cart, Home, Search, About the Club, How to Join, Top Picks, Contact Us, Already a Member? (Click on this to log into the site under your member name.)
There is also a Safe Shopping Guarantee logo. The website guarantees to keep transaction information protected.
Another Option for Joining the Club
There is also the option of joining from an advertisement that either came in the mail or was an insert in a magazine. Just click on the special link to open a page where you can type in the special promotional code of the offer. If there is no promotional code, there is another link to click for the offer described in the above paragraphs.
Whether choosing your first six books to join the club, or returning to the website to browse selections ... each book has its own web page that is filled with information. For instance, Sue Graftons book S is for Silence on the website features a photograph of the book, and to the right of the image is the publishers edition price ($26.95) and also the Mystery Guild discounted price ($14.49). Most books are hardcover, but the website includes whether the book is hardcover or paperback. The page count is listed as well as the item number. Also listed is the publisher and publication date of the book. Farther to the right is a large button that says, Add to Cart.
Beneath this information is a link that leads to customer reviews of the book. Each review is dated and includes the reviewers name. Typically, customer reviews are brief, running between two and five sentences. There is also a 5-star rating system based on all customer reviews (1 star being the lowest; and 5 stars the highest rating).
Underneath the customer review link is a description of the book plot titled Club Review. There may also be reviews from other well-known sources such as a Publishers Weekly review.
Once you have joined the Mystery Guild, you will also be able to see a percentage next to each book showing the discount (ex: 48% or 60%). The specific book page will also show whether the book is ready to ship or can be pre-ordered (if the book is not yet available for sale).
Making Selections ... Adding to the Shopping Cart
Its simple to add and remove items from the shopping cart. Just click the Add to Cart button on the product page. You can remove a selection at any time by clicking the Remove button. You can also change quantities. Not only does the price you pay appear in the shopping cart, but the publishers price also appears. (I always enjoy seeing how much money Im saving.) At the bottom of the page in large print, it displays how much money was saved by purchasing the book club editions. If desired, a gift wrap option is available for 99 cents per item.
You can continue to shop, or you can click the Finish Enrollment button at the bottom of the shopping cart page. If you are already a member, click the Checkout button. The page changes so that you can enter your billing information and email address. Next fill in the shipping and payment information. Once enrollment is complete, you can then choose a password to set up your online account. That way when you receive the clubs mailings, you can select online whether or not you want to buy the featured selection, which saves a postage stamp.
The Mystery Guild accepts Visa, American Express, MasterCard credit cards. They will also take a money order or personal check. If you wish, there is a bill later option so that you will receive a bill with the shipment. The book club charges sales tax for those who live in Indiana, Pennsylvania or New York.
Selection and Pricing
The Mystery Guild offers a huge variety of mystery books to choose from. The books are of excellent quality. The paper used for the book pages is not as stiff as the pages in books offered in publishers editions. However, the paper is not inferior. I have owned books from the Mystery Guild that are easily at least ten years old, and the paper has not changed color or deteriorated. The binds are solid, too. I find that the books are not the same size as the publishers edition, most often being a bit smaller. Every now and then, the club will ship a book that has paper and even the size equal to that of a publishers edition.
Sometimes the club will offer books that are not mystery books. For instance, there is Lippincotts Nursing Drug Guide at a member price of $9.99 (publishers price $37.95). They also offer non-fiction such as Forensics for Dummies (a paperback) at a member price of $10.99 with a publishers price of $19.99.
The club also publishes Special Editions. These books are unique to the Mystery Guild. For instance, the guild may combine several books or novellas into one volume such as the McBain Duet by Ed McBain for $11.99, which features two novellas Driving Lessons and Petals. Another example is Bolitars Game by Harlan Coben, which includes three complete novels for $12.99.
Here is a sample of some book prices (all hardcover):
The Cat Who Went Bananas by Lilian Jackson Braun
Club Price $12.99 / Publishers Price $23.95
ֿst to Die by James Patterson
Club Price $14.49 / Publishers Price $26.95
Children of the Storm by Elizabeth Peters
Club Price $12.99 / Publishers Price $25.95
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Club Price $12.49 / Publishers Price $24.95
In A Dark House by Deborah Crombie
Club Price $11.99 / Publishers Price $23.95
A selection of merchandise other than books is also available. For example, you can purchase a Mystery Guild mousepad for 99 cents. In my last Bulletin, the club offered a mug for $2.99 with any purchase.
Shipping & Customer Service
The first book costs $3.99 for shipping, with each additional book an extra $1.99. If ordering five or more books, there is a flat shipping rate of $11.95. This is for standard shipping. Express delivery is available if desired for an extra fee. Standard shipping takes between 10 -14 days to reach me.
The Mystery Guild periodically offers special shipping fees. For instance, the last Bulletin I received in the mail had a special offer of spend at least $25 and pay $1.99 for shipping.
The books always arrive well packed in a very sturdy cardboard box. Only once did a book arrive damaged. Customer service was friendly and said, Keep the book. They sent a new one, no questions asked.
When joining the Mystery Guild, read the membership agreement to make sure you understand the rules. For instance, the six books chosen for 99 cents to join the club also includes a $14.95 shipping and handling fee. Once accepted into the plan, you need to purchase four more books at regular club prices within two years. You can cancel when those four books have been purchased, or you can choose to remain a member and cancel at any time.
If you arent pleased with the introductory offer books, you have ten days to return them. You wont be charged anything.
About once a month, you will receive in the mail the club Bulletin that features various book selections. A card is included in the shipment. The card has two books as featured selections, which you check to buy or not to buy. You can also order other books by writing item numbers on the card and then mail the card back to the club. Its easier for me to log onto the Mystery Guild website to tell them whether I want the featured selections and to order books. It also saves a stamp each time I use the internet.
Another nice feature is that if you receive unwanted books (example: by being late letting the club know you dont want a featured selection), you can return the package to them, and the club will not charge your account.
The Mystery Guild has been a good club. The books are of excellent quality at a reasonable price. If I group shipments, or wait for a special shipping offer, I save even more money. If you enjoy reading mysteries, then this might be the book club for you.
I hope you have found this review useful.
Enjoy your day,
customer service e-mail: email@example.com
phone number: 717-918-2665
Please read my other reviews:
Writers Digest Book Club
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Copyright 2006 Dawn L. Stewart