Join the club
If you’re a book-lover like me, you know it’s a challenge to find the time to discover, let alone read, any of the countless great books that have already been written, never mind figuring out what’s worth reading out of all the thousands of books published every day . Every month you could accumulate new free and cut-price ebooks, a new audiobook or two and still that pile of to-be-read paperbacks sits unread in your head or beside your bed, and yet you are aware that there is an ever growing number of great books that you just won’t ever get to because you simply don’t have the time to browse the ever fewer physical bookstores around. Sure, you get books recommended by Amazon but its algorithm is designed to recommend books similar to the ones you have already bought. How on earth can you burst your bubble to discover great new books and authors that you might love but could go your whole lifetime without ever reading? This is especially true if you’re a keen reader of a single genre, but like to read more broadly now and again.
The main problem you face is you don’t have the time to find new good stuff to read which leads to being at the mercy of ever diminishing choices from publishers or an echo chamber of one — you. Today, your best option is to buy books online, which works brilliantly if you know what you already want. But what if you want to be pleasantly surprised? If you’ve tried downloading free ebooks you’ll know the number of pleasant surprises is shockingly low. As more and more books are published every day, the problem of finding a great book to read will only get worse over time.
If only there were a fairer, faster and, er, funner way to keep up with great books, then you could spend your free time reading them instead of wasting it on bad ones. Imagine discovering a good book every month, without having to waste time searching for it or feeling guilty that you were behind on your reading.
There is a solution: Saku’s Random Book Club. How does it work? Scroll down to get all your questions answered...
About Saku’s Random Book Club
Sign up for a year and at the beginning of every month we’ll send you a random, hand-picked good book from our collection with a key element of surprise: you won’t have any idea what the book is until it arrives in the mail. Any questions?
Yeah, I can think of a few. Like first off, who decides what is a “good” book?
I do. A good book to me means one I would read myself because of its interesting subject matter, gripping story, unusual point of view or any other factor X that marks a book as worth reading, keeping or giving to a friend.
And who are you?
I’m Patrick Sherriff. I’m an ex-journalist. I run Tower English, an English language school In Abiko, Japan, with my wife. We have an overstocked and underused library of quality books in English that are begging to be read. Oh, and Saku is our adopted stray cat.
Oh, so you are just foisting off your unread or worn-out copies on me?
Not at all. The bulk of our collection of books is from 5,000 new and “as new” books I accumulated when I was dealing online in books in the UK in the 2000s, supplemented with more recent purchases from booksellers in the Tokyo area. Our students are Japanese children. English is a second language for them so they have no interest in the novels of John Le Carre or the autobiographies of Richard Feynerman, Yet.
I get it, you are just trying to clean out your library and charge me for the privilege.
Actually, no. My intention is to increase the stock of books we have. My back-of-the envelope calculation is that for every book we can sell through Saku’s Random Book Club, we’ll be able to buy two more. My dream is to build up the best stocked English library in Japan.
Well, bully for you, but what’s in it for me?
The surprise of getting a random good book in the post, the feeling that you are keeping up with the vast back-catalogue of humanity’s wisdom; the knowledge that you are contributing to the spread of English literacy around the globe.
That’s a bit over the top, isn’t it?
Not really. I’m interested in doing my bit to supply an alternative to the internet as the sole depository of human knowledge. Whatever I can do to foster a healthy eco-system of booksellers, book-readers and book-collectors will only benefit us all.
Sweet dreams Daddio, but I’ve gone digital. I don’t need all that paper cluttering up my home.
For all the advantages of digital, it’s hard work to share an ebook, and harder still to find an old gem of a book that’s nowhere to be downloaded. But I hear you. So, if you don’t want to keep your random book, or give it to a friend, relative, or charity shop, feel free to stash it some place warm and dry and when you have four of them stacked up, mail them back to me and I’ll put them back on the shelves for other members to enjoy. By way of thanks, I’ll be happy to extend your membership for one month for free.
That keeps the paper from piling up, but it’s not really good for the environment, chopping down trees to make books, is it?
Certainly, the world doesn’t need any more new copies of The Art of the Deal. But all of our good books are used, and any packaging is 100% recycled, bio-degradable cardboard. Reduce! (your reading needs) Reuse! (the books from our shelves) Recycle! (my local grocer’s cardboard boxes as packaging).
Cute. But the idea of “random” books still makes me nervous. Are these going to be completely weird selections? What can I expect?
I, Patrick Sherriff, do solemnly swear never to send you a book by Donald Trump. And while the books I select are random to you, they actually are representative of the range of books we have in stock. At the moment that means you can expect a year’s worth of books to include one classic novel, one business or self-improvement book, one academic or popular non-fiction book, one thriller, one science fiction or fantasy novel, two crime fiction or mystery novels, one YA or children’s book, two modern literary novels, and two books (one fiction, one non-fiction) about Japan. An example of a year’s selection might look like this. I keep a record of what books you have received to make sure there are no duplicates or you get stuck in a rut of receiving the same genres over and over.
Oh, so you keep a file on me. I’m not really comfortable with that…
All I keep is a note of the mailing address and your name (or the name of the person receiving the books if a gift) and what books we’ve sent out. And, by the way, all that data is kept the old-fashioned way… on a piece of paper in a ring binder. I keep no information on you online at all, except your email address. I never even learn your bank account or credit card number, and I would never ask. I also promise to never spam you or reveal your email or postal address to anyone else. Ever.
So how do I pay?
Pay via PayPal. Even if you don’t have a PayPal account they accept all major credit cards and currencies, and you need never reveal to me any secret numbers.
Right, so how much does it cost?
If the delivery address is in Japan, the cost is ¥667 a month. If the delivery address is anywhere else in the world, it's $9.17 a month. Make one PayPal payment (¥8,000 for Japanese addresses, or $110 for addresses outside Japan) and you will be good for a year of great reads delivered every month. All shipping costs and taxes are included in the price.
It sounds intriguing but I really don’t know if it’s right for me.
Sign up for a year, but if after three months you are not completely satisfied with the books or the service, for whatever reason, I’ll refund all of your money, no questions asked. And you can keep the three books. Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back.
Click on the JOIN button. Send me an email to tell me if you want the books sent within Japan or elsewhere. I will send you a PayPal invoice (for ¥8,000 if it's in Japan or $110 if it's anywhere else).
As soon as you pay the PayPal invoice, Saku will send your first book out within one business day.
Send me an email saying you want to join. I will send you a PayPal invoice (for ¥8,000 if the postal address is in Japan or $110 if it's anywhere else). If you have any questions, or any problems, feel free to contact me by email, Facebook or Twitter, post or telephone.
080 3216 2800