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Take Your Pick from these Vintage Book Clubs

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1985 book club (small)

This book club advertisement from 1985 lets us pick six for 99 cents… plus a free tote!  I pick Stephen King’s Thinner and Pet Sematary, The Goonies Storybook, Prince: Inside the Purple Reign, Shared Intimacies Rated X!, and E.T. The Book of the Green Planet.

Let’s have a look at a few more book club ads from the past and see what we can order for around a dollar.  I’d be interested to hear your selections, and recommendations as well!

Doubleday book club advert vintage

From approximately six years earlier, we still get six books for 99 cents by joining the Doubleday Book Club.. and, yes, they were still giving away the free tote!

I’ll take Superman: Last Son of Krypton, the Dolly Partion bio, Stephen King’s The StandDoonesbury’s Greatest Hits, The Amityville Horror, and one of the best history books I’ve ever read: A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman.

1972 literary guild ad

The 1972 Literary Guild lets us get four books up front for a buck. I choose The Exorcist, Memoirs of an Ex Prom Queen, and a couple books as intriguing cultural artifacts: Open Marriage and How To Go To Work When Your Husband Is Against It, Your Children Aren’t Old Enough, And There’s Nothing You Can Do Anyhow. 

1981 fantasy sci fi book club advert

This 1981 Sci-Fi/Fantasy book club offers four for a buck… plus a free tote!  Danse Macabre is my all time favorite non-fiction book on the horror genre.  For the other three: the Sagan book, Cosmic Connection, Asimov’s Foundation series, and The Chronicles of Amber.

1984 sci fi book club

It’s 1983, and they’re still offering four books for a dollar, plus a tote.  Admittedly, I’m not much of a sci-fi or fantasy reader.  I’d choose the two Elric books, a Dune book, and the horror anthology Dark Forces.  I’m sure there are some gems here that I’m not aware of.

1983 computer book club

This Computer Book Club ad from 1983 asks us to select six for $2.95.  I’ll take 25 Exciting Video Games, and the rest I can live without.

1971 Playboy book club

The 1971 Playboy Book Club offers us any four books for $1.95.  I’ll take Lenny Bruce’s How to Talk Dirty and Influence People, The Turned-On Executive, The Groupsex Tapes, and Sex American Style.

1972 Playboy book club

The following year (1972) Playboy’s selection hasn’t changed much.  I choose: The Youth Culture, Playboy’s Host & Bar Book, The Complete Imortalia, and Mirror of Venus.

Twilight Zone Magazine 1981-05 009

In 1981, The Mystery Guild offers six for 99 cents… plus a tote!  I see four I might want – The Legacy (an underrated movie), Robin Cook’s The Sphinx, Fletch Forever, Peter “Jaws” Benchly’s Island. 

I’ll leave you with a couple more book club advertisements, and I look forward to reading your selections.  Cheers.

1975 psychology today book club

1975 Psychology Today Book Club

vintage book club ad

1974 playboy book club

The 1974 Playboy Book Club

Infinity Science Fiction 3 1958

Science Fiction Book Club 1958

  • The ’70s and early ’80s were the worst time for book cover design. All that serif fontage!!!

  • Daniel Longcore

    Funny story about the Superman: Last Son of Krypton book: Because of legal issues surrounding Mario Puzo’s screenplay of Superman, Warner Bros, couldn’t publish a movie novelization for the first Superman movie (and DC Comics couldn’t make a comics adaptation), so to capitalize on the film, they commissioned Superman comics writer Elliot S! Maggin to write a couple of Superman prose novels, Last Son of Krypton being one, and Miracle Monday being the other, and just put photos of Christopher Reeve’s Superman on them.

    • Yeoman Lowbrow

      Fascinating. I’d never heard that – thanks for the trivia!

  • jon pall

    Next to last book, The Dragon in the Sea by Frank Herbert.
    Incredibly intense futuristic submarine saga.

    • Yeoman Lowbrow

      Thanks for the recommendation. I was never able to get through all the Dune books, but it’s undeniable that Herbert was a brilliant writer.

      • jon pall

        Not a problem.
        I actually had it as an audiobook last year, The digital age has almost robbed me of the ability to read anything beyond an average Facebook update.
        Thank you likewise for the recommendation of A Distant Mirror, I scored that one immediately. On audiofile of course.


  • Haga Akane ✓ᴰᵉᵖˡᵒʳᵃᵇˡᵉ

    I joined what was called the Military Book Club which was actually a sub-division of one of the big clubs back in the mid 1980s. Huge mistake!

    The way it worked is you’d sign up and get around 5 books of your choice for less than a dollar. That was awesome but then it got annoying like this:

    1. Every month you’d get an offer of 5 books at regular price. If you didn’t send the offer back rejecting selections you’d get them all.

    2. There was a grace period where you could turn them back but if you missed it, you bought the whole lot (at reduced price).

    3. With the monthly offer and other forms, you could buy other books from the general catalog but that was hardly user friendly. If you missed the serial number or the book club employee processing it messed up you could wind up with anything in the entire book club. I once tried to order a book on American Special Forces operations in Vietnam and got a Danielle Steel romance novel!

    4. If you were late on a payment, they’d get quite uppity.

    5. The subscription was for one year and automatically renewed. Needless to say I was VERY proactive in quitting. I seem to recall sending the cancellation form off the same day I got it!

  • njguy54

    Anyone reading “The Turned-On Executive” today should do so only for historical insights, and not as a how-to manual.