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Fantasy & SF Bookclub

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      21.09.2006 17:43
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      My attempts to return an unwanted book and leave the book club.

      I was happy while I was a member and brought my membership quota. However, one magazine failed to turn up and I was sent the editors choices two months later. Trying to return them turned into a nightmare.

      I used the automated phone to request a returns label, and while they were able to charge me the price for the label, the label itself failed to materialise.

      I contacted them via email three seperate occasions, and each time was assured the label would be sent and each time it failed to turn up.

      On top of that, they didn't have any problems charging me for late payment. Admittedly they removed those charges, but still no label turned up.

      Finally after three months, they sent me an apology letter from one of their managers. The letter asked me to use the enclosed return label. What return label? They had managed to not include it in the envelope.

      After a couple more emails, I had it sent recorded delivery and returned the parcel immediately. I sent a final email telling them I don't want to be a member any more and not to send me any catalogues, which they acknowledged and we parted ways.

      Today, one month after all of this, I get a bill from them for £4.50 for late return charges, a catalogue and they're going to send me the next editor's choice if I don't order another book from them by 11th October.

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        29.08.2005 22:36
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        Appalling customer service and club commitment doesn't bode well.

        The Fantasy & Science Fiction Book Club (FSF) is an online and catalogue based book club, offering readers the chance to purchase Fantasy and Science Fiction books, at great savings against the recommended retail price (RRP).


        *Introductory Offer from FSF*

        I have been a member of FSF since June 03, whereby I joined on the recommendation of a friend, and have purchased many books from the FSF website. I rarely use the catalogue to order from as I find it time consuming, and like to receive a confirmation of my order via the online ordering section.

        I was actually enticed, like so many before me, by the offer off:

        “Any 5 Books from just 50p each!”

        Whereby the customer is asked to choose from a pre-selected range of books 5 Titles that they would like. Each book is priced at a minimum of 50p, with several of the more popular (or multi-pack selections) ranging in price up to £5.00. The range of books available for the offer, include Editors Choice, Graphic Novels, Humour and Science Fiction.

        Once you have chosen your 5 books you are immediately taken to stage 2 of the application where you verify your chosen choices and make any changes if necessary. If you are happy with your choices you will be asked to enter your personal details and confirm your order. Normally FSF will then send you your chosen books along with an invoice that requires payment within 14 days. On your invoice will also be your new membership number, of which you will need to create your online account, in order to purchase books from their website.

        Remember you are under no obligation to join after completing the application, as detailed above. The items you have chosen are sent to you on a 10-day home trial, and if you are not satisfied you return them to FSF, and they will cancel your membership.


        *FSF Club Commitment*

        As like many other book clubs, there is a club commitment that needs to be fulfilled. FSF ask that you buy at least 1 title from each magazine (Full colour magazines are sent out every two months) for a minimum of 4 magazines. Ordering can be done either online or via the magazine.

        Please note that a multi-pack selection counts as 1 title.


        *Editor’s Choice*

        Included in each magazine is a top title that FSF recommend as the Editor’s Choice. They will automatically send you the Editor’s choice unless your advise them it is not required for that particular magazine period. You can do this by returning the magazines ordering form, or via the website.

        After you have purchased the minimum number of books from FSF you can send them an e-mail to let them no you no longer wish to receive the Editor’s Choice. I tried this before the club commitment had been fulfilled but my request was ignored.


        *FSF home magazine*

        The FSF magazine is sent out to all customers every 2 months. Each edition is full of the latest titles available and quite often includes some old favourites, and a special offer section.

        Occasionally there are Special Author features, which can include a preview chapter of the author’s latest release.


        *Membership - Available Books*

        FSF do specialise in Fantasy and Science Fiction, but if you purchase via their website (once you are registered as a member) you are also able to buy books and other products from Club Extra categories such as:

        Bookstore – Biography, Children, Fiction, Home and Garden etc
        DVD & Video – TV Shows, Movies etc
        Gifts and Games – PC Games, XBOX Essentials etc
        Partner Offers – Personalised Jigsaws, Date of Birth Newspapers etc
        Music – Classical, Dance, Rock, Soundtracks etc

        I have listed some of the main categories below (Calender Year 2005), so you can see an example of the prices FSF are charging, in comparison to the retail price.

        1. Editors Choice – Currently “Traitor’s Knot, Shadowmarch/Going Postal” by Wurts/Williams/Pratchett and is on offer for £21.97, a saving of £33.00 on the published price of £54.97.

        2. Discworld – A must section for all Pratchetts fans, books currently available include “Night Watch” for £9.99 (RRP £17.99) and “Going Postal” for £10.99 (RRP £17.99)

        3. Science Fiction – “The Snow” by Adam Roberts £10.99 (RRP £17.99)

        4. Other Main Categories include – Star Wars, Star Trek, Fantasy, Horror, Humour, and Buffyverse etc. covering authors such as Tad Williams, Stephen King, Raymond E. Feist and Ian Irvine.


        *Delivery Times*

        When I originally joined FSF I generally received my deliveries within 14 working days, with the only exception being over the Christmas period when I had to wait 21 days for my order to come back into stock and to be dispatched. I did receive an email from FSF advising me of the delay so this wasn’t a problem. However in September 04 my partner also signed up to FSF, keen to experience the great savings, but didn't receive his introductory set of books until February 05! The order was placed and accepted in September, and he received a confirmation from FSF to say his account was activated and delivery would be paid within 14 days. 3 weeks later he received a letter, explaining that due to unprecedented demand for FSF membership they were behind with new orders but would expect delivery to be made shortly. Approximately a month later (November) he received another apologetic letter, this time with a free Christmas CD, advising his account would be dealt with ASAP. We sent them several e-mails asking them to urgently update us on the status of his account (his online account shows no orders awaiting delivery) but as of January 05 we still hadn’t heard anything. Finally in February 05 we received his introductory parcel, but due to the appalling service have only attempted to order one further set of books, of which 2 arrived on time and the third (incidentally the 1st book in the series) was over 2 months late, and again had to be chased several times.

        Postage charges are also a flat rate of £2.99 per order, regardless of the number of books ordered, so essentially a good saving if you are ordering products in bulk.


        *Payment*

        Paying for the books is relatively easy, especially with the online account management facilities. You can pay using a number of different Credit Cards, namely MasterCard, Visa, Delta and Switch, or you can send a cheque to the company direct once your statement is received (payment is due within 10 days of receipt of statement).

        The online website is a secure site, using VeriSign Services, and currently has a security certificate valid from 12th November 04 to 1st December 06, so you shouldn’t have any worries about sending payment online.


        *Final Opinion*

        Advantages –

        1. Book prices are low, and very rarely would you have to pay even close to the recommended retail price. The standard Hardback comes in at £9.99, and many paperbacks can be found at £5.99 or less.
        2. Wide range of Science Fiction and Fantasy authors of whom many are hard to find in retail outlets.
        3. Online and offline account management
        4. Very good introductory offer – 5 books from 50p.
        5. Great magazine offers e.g. BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free)


        Disadvantages –

        1. Club Commitment of 1 book for a minimum of 4 magazines.
        2. Editors Choice automatic unless you remember to reject their offer, either online or via the order form.
        3. Delivery times are appalling at the moment (2004/05)
        4. It takes 28 days for payments, orders, credits of refunds to appear on your online account, and offline account statements are generally 2 weeks behind real time.
        5. Minimal contact from Customer Services with regards to queries.

        If my experiences of FSF had been limited to my own personal account then I would probably recommend the company. However after the lack of customer service, delivery and help from FSF with respect to my partner’s order my opinion of FSF has certainly weakened. It may well be that the company is experiencing a severe backlog of orders with respect to a popularity increase, but that popularity can just as easily fall if members orders are not fulfilled or they are not made fully aware of the current situation. I hope if you decide to join, you have more success than we did.

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          03.09.2001 01:16
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          Now, I make no secret of the fact that I’m one of life’s cynics, and all these adverts for book clubs seem far too good to be true. Well, of course they are – you might get your first five for 25p each, but you have to agree to buy how many more? From what kind of choice? And for what price? Despite my reservations, though, many years ago I somehow persuaded myself to join one of these book clubs, QPD to be precise. I reasoned that as I’m a complete junkie when it comes to books and reading, I’d have little difficulty fulfilling the obligation to buy another however many, and overall I’d be saving myself a little money. Bit of a mistake, there – I hadn’t taken the postage charges into account, nor did I find many books I was really keen to own. Okay, negativity over with. Fast forward a few years, and I once again found myself drooling over one of these leaflets offering books at silly prices. You’d think I’d have learned a lesson from the first time, really, but nope – I talked myself into it. And do I regret it? Not a bit!! The difference is, by this time I’d discovered how much I liked fantasy and science fiction, so I joined the club specifically for that. So, first bit of advice for anyone thinking of joining one of these book clubs: make sure you have a fairly big interest in the particular genre. That first club I joined didn’t stick to one area, and I had difficult finding books I wanted. With FSF (Fantasy and Science Fiction), I had difficulty not spending too much! It’s worth pointing out that I didn’t own many fantasy or sci-fi books before I started, so there was a wealth of choice for me – in other words, I had no difficulty fulfilling the membership obligations. These were (and still are, as far as I’m aware): buy at least one book from each magazine while you’re a member, minimum membership 4 magazines. These arrive ro
          ughly every two months. There are two ways to go about joining FSF: look out for one of the many leaflets or advertisements, or through the internet. Personally, I’d recommend the latter as you’re going to get the full range of books (or at least all the ones in the joining offer) to choose from. **INTRODUCTORY OFFER** For my introductory offer, I choose five sets of books – throughout my membership I found the sets offered the best value. Of course, if you already own ‘bits’ of a set, this won’t work so well. My initial package cost £17 for 19 books, plus £2.95 postage and packaging – that’s £1.05 per book! To illustrate what kind of things are available, and just in case you’re at all interested, the books I choose were: *Raymond E. Feist’s Riftwar set – the Riftwar trilogy, plus Prince of the Blood (£3 for 4 paperback books) *Raymond E. Feist’s Serpentwar saga (£5 for 4 hardback, ‘club edition’ books) *David Gemmell’s Wayland set – the first 4 Drenai novels (£2.50 for 4 paperback books) *Tad William’s Memory, Sorrow and Thorn set (£3.50 for 4 paperback books) *Tad William’s Otherland set (£3 for 2 paperbacks, plus 1 hardback club edition – the fourth Otherland novel wasn’t published at that time) *CLUB EDITIONS* A note on the ‘club edition’: these are hard cover books, but at a size somewhere between normal hardbacks and paperbacks. In general I’m not all that fond of them, for several reasons. Firstly, if the book you’ve ordered is quite long, then the club edition is very think, squat and occasionally with smaller than normal print. Also, several times I ordered a series from FSF only to be presented with a mixture of formats – paperbacks with the latest publication in a club edition (as in my introductory package) wasn’t too bad, but I on
          ce ordered a set of three rather thick volumes and received books one and three in club edition, but book two in normal hardback. It’s not a big complaint, but just be warned if you like your bookshelves to look neat! One thing I didn’t like much: with the delivery of my introductory package arrived the first catalogue, from which I was obliged to place an order. This is fairly standard, but it was a bit soon, I feel – I would have liked a chance to start reading some of my new books first. Also, because I’d joined not long before the NEXT magazine was due out, I received another one in less than a month’s time. Not a huge complaint, but something to be wary of. **SPECIAL OFFERS** In that first magazine was something called the ‘Cut Price Castle’. This is an offer that as far as I’m aware is available every year – this was in March, so look for it around then. Basically, if you order two books from the magazine, you are then entitled to buy something at a further reduced price from the ‘Cut Price Castle’. In my case, I got Anne McCaffrey’s Tower and Hive series (4 paperbacks and a club edition) for £7.95 - not bad! If you’re thinking of joining I would really recommend timing it so that your membership is just beginning for this offer – it’d save you buying something, and then seeing it at a lower price. Other special offers arise in nearly every magazine. There are ‘Star Books’, similar to the Cut Price Castle, but only one other book has to be bought. I made use of a few ‘buy two, claim a free gift’ offers. The first time, there was a choice of about six books, and there was one I really wanted – Soul of the Fire by Terry Goodkind. I got a lovely hardback copy (even though it was supposed to be a club edition!), simply by buying two books I wanted anyway! On other occasions, the free gift was a mystery
          book. You narrowed the choice by choosing from three categories: Fantasy, Sci-Fi or the Unexplained. I managed to make use of this offer three times, choosing sci-fi twice and fantasy once, and the books I received were Rainbow Mars and Burning City, both by Larry Niven, and Arthur C. Clarke’s The Trigger. I doubt I would have bought any of them myself, but I thoroughly enjoyed the one I’ve read so far. All of these books were club editions, published that year, and all were in the club magazine at that time for £9.99 each. I suppose there’s always the likelihood of getting something you already own, or don’t particularly want, but hey – it’s free! Over and above the special offers, the point of FSF is to offer books at discounted prices. As I’ve said, the sets offer the best value in my opinion. A paperback set of three books is usually £15.97, or £5.32 per book. Hard cover club editions are normally £9.99, but further reductions are possible if you’re buying a set. A common offer is two for £15.98 or three for £19.98, from a list of not necessarily linked books. I’ve noticed with this, however, that different volumes from the same series will be featured in different months. **EDITOR’S CHOICE** There are two common complaints about this kind of book club. Firstly, the editor’s choice: every magazine has a recommended title, which will be sent out to you if you don’t place an order – there is no feature with FSF to reject the editor’s choice, as the membership terms state that you must buy something from each magazine. However, if you are ordering other titles, the editor’s choice isn’t automatically included, so there’s no need to remember to reject it at the same time. The requirement to order from each magazine is another problem for some people, and I agree that it’s not my favourite way of doing things. However, it i
          s only for four magazines, which is probably about 6 months (as you get the first magazine immediately). I remained a member for a year, and during that time placed 8 orders – I still have a huge backlog of reading material! When I wanted to end my membership, I sent an email asking for it to be cancelled, via the website. Now, this is the interesting bit: I’m still a member of FSF, and I receive the magazine as before. However, I’m under NO OBLIGATION to buy anything further! This means I could still take advantage of any offers, but without the pressure to buy every two months – I simple send an email requesting that they don’t send me the editor’s choice. My advice therefore would be to send an email after your fourth magazine, and continue your membership on your own terms. Of course, if I wanted to, I could send another email and stop my membership completely. **ORDERING – THE MAGAZINE AND WEBSITE – BOL** There are several ways to order books – using the form provided with the magazine and posting it, by telephone, or the internet. I was a big fan of the latter, especially as it allowed me to browse the entire stock and not just the titles in that month’s magazine. -The Magazine- Is very pretty! No, really, it’s well done. There are pictures and brief descriptions of each book and set, with clearly displayed prices and explanation of the offers available that month. -The Website- When I first joined (back at the start of 2000), the website was quite slow. Thankfully, this has improved vastly since then! It’s easy to navigate, with the option of searching by genre, author or anything else you might want to do, really. There are adequate descriptions of each book, and a new feature is the member reviews – there aren’t that many on the site at the moment, but this might pick up over time. Ordering is simply a matter of placing items in yo
          ur ‘basket’, then confirming your order. The site also allows you to keep track of your account details, and the status of any order. There are also clear links to email any department of customer services, should you have any queries or complaints. -BOL- If the book you want isn’t available from FSF, you are given the option to place an order with BOL.com, and a link directly to that site. There are pros and cons to this: on the negative side, orders placed on BOL do not count towards your FSF membership. Also, as the order is separate from FSF, you will have to pay BOL’s postage charges. However, as long as you order from BOL through the FSF link (!), 10% of the order value is credited to your FSF account – this can take up to a month to show, though, so don’t panic! **POSTAGE AND DELIVERY** Postage and packaging is charged at a flat rate of £2.99 per order, regardless of how many books you order. Obviously this makes it more cost effective to order in bulk, but I suppose that’s the point. Since the start of 2001, however, FSF have waived postage charges for orders over £30 – an excellent development, in my opinion. As for delivery times, for me it was generally just over two weeks; I once received my parcel after six days, and another time it took a month. **PAYMENT** FSF offer a choice of payment methods. My preference, and that of many people wary of handing out credit or debit card details, was to wait for my statement and send a check. However, if you’re happy to do so, a new(-ish) feature is online credit card payments. Payment is due within 10 days of receipt of a statement, which are sent out every month. One thing to note is that are sometimes issued just before your payment has gone through, so don’t be alarmed if your statement seems to be missing a payment. Your online account will be showing the correct details if thi
          s happens. One minor point I didn’t like was the tone adopted on one of my statements: one of my orders had been quite late in arriving, and a statement had arrived in the meantime. Quite naturally, I withheld payment for the books that I’d still to receive. The next statement had obviously crossed in the system with my cheque, as it showed that amount, plus my next order, along with the warning “Dispatches will resume when your account is clear” and notification that I would not be entitled to a free book offer. Of course, it was all a bit of a misunderstanding, and not a serious one at that, but I do wonder if the slightly threatening tone was necessary at that point – after all, I’d been a member for more than six months and not missed a payment. **MISTAKES AND CUSTOMER SERVICES** On one occasion, a book was missing from my parcel. I simply sent an email to customer services, and the missing volume was sent out within days. On another occasion, I was sent the wrong book – again, I just emailed customer services, and they arranged for free return and the correct book sent out. Other than that mistake, I have never been sent a book I didn’t order, including the editor’s choice. My other contact was to verify that a special offer shown in the magazine would be honoured, as it hadn’t shown up on my internet statement. I received a prompt reply reassuring me that all was well. Overall, I have only the highest praise for the customer services department. Okay, so this has just become the longest op I’ve written (if not ever!! lol), so huge congrats to anyone who trawled through the whole thing – I hope I said something interesting at some point!! As I’m sure comes across, I was very impressed with FSF in general, and if you like these sorts of books and have considered joining, I hope I’ve reassured you that it’s not such a bad idea. I
          now have a fairly large collection of good fantasy and science fiction, not to mention a huge backlog of books to read – and, of course, plenty of material for writing DooYoo ops! Thanks for reading.

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            13.08.2001 02:10
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            Just as bad as World Books. I joined this book club because of the exceptional introductory offer. I am a very avid reader and collector of books. So the deal was perfect for me. I fulfilled my membership obligation in no time and was pleased with the club up until then. Once my obligation was met and I started sending back the form asking for no selection that month, that was when my troubles began. No matter how soon I sent the form back after receiving it, I still got the recommended selection of the month. At first I would accept these and then contact the company to arrange for the return of the book. But after they started trying to charge me £2 for the return, I simply started refusing the delivery of the books. The company still tried charging me £2 for each book I refused. And actually phoning the company and speaking to a real person did absolutely no good. I was told they had not received any of my forms. I replied that they had no trouble receiving the form as long as I was placing an order. So I cancelled my membership. This did nothing at first. They still tried sending books and I still refused them. They still tried charging me for the returns. Finally I wrote them a letter stating that since I had cancelled my membership I would consider any further books a gift from them. They finally got the message after "giving" me two books. I no longer receive anything from them. But if you should join, don't bother sending back the form if you plan on buying nothing. It will not be acknowledged. You will still receive an order whether you want it or not.

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              01.08.2001 08:57

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              very good book club - Advantages: internet access, very cheap, loots of bookst o choose - Disadvantages: long wait for the books, lack of booklist

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              16.06.2001 05:46
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              • "delay in new titles becoming available"

              Having been a member of the FSF for over two and a half years I have to say I have, on the whole, been pleased with the selection of books available and the prices are not unreasonable. The delivery time is good and it is possble to operate the club over the internet on by post although contacting them by phone can be awkward as it took me a few months to find a telephone number for them. The joining offers are excellent with much reduced prices on a selection of 6 books or sets of books. My personal favourite is fantasy literature and I soon found that I had read all of the books in a particular series, say Robert Jordans Wheel of Time series, and then had to wait fro the book to appear in the book club magazine. I lost patience eventually and started buying books from the shops again. I also have become increasingly frustrated with the limited range of paperbacks available as I find this a cheap way of trialing new authors rather than spending more money on the hardback. It is also infuriating to have to purchase 1 book every issue of the club magazine, not that I couldn't find 1 I qanted necassarily, but that youare obligated to do so by the terms and conditions of membership. Overall it is an excellent resource for the avid Fantasy and SF fan but after a couple of years as a member with little patience I have now cancelled my membership because I found I am buying most of books as tehy are published, may e all that means is I shouldn't read so much! I would definately recommend this club to someone that likes Fantasy and SF but has not yet sampled much of the Genre as the rottion of books is often slow.

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                22.04.2001 02:07
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                I was attracted to this bookclub by the quite incredible offer for new members - for just under £15 I got close to twenty books, including three complete series, and the special edition illustrated Lord of the Rings, a quite monumental volume. The quality of this offer appears to have remained just as high since I joined. The choice of books in each catalogue is very high - unlike many bookclubs, the books on sale include the most up to date works by most authors, and invaluably in a fantasy club earlier volumns in each series are always available at the same time - often in decent value packs. However, this club has two main problems. First is that you have to buy something from every single catalogue, admitedly only quarterly, for the duration of your membership - a minimum of three purchases. Thus you can not skip a catalogue when nothing grabs you. The second problem is that the prices in here are no better than in normal bookshops, at least on the items I purhased. Where you are getting a good offer, it's only on the hardback - personally I would rather get the paperbacks, but the choice of paperbacks in not brilliant. For me, this club is a short term thing - join it for the brilliant offer, endure three magazines, which reduces the value of your savings, and then leave. A shame, because there were plenty of books of interest, but I don't want to be stuck having to buy books from every catalogue.

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                  21.04.2001 19:22

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                  I've just recently joined this book club and I have to say i'm farily impressed. They have a great range of authors from Stephen King to Tad Williams. They also have loads of selection of titles by the same author. Its very easy to get new books and latest editions but a little harder to find older books. They are pretty competitive on prices too and they usually have some excellant special offers on books or sets every edition. You have to buy at least one book every quarter, which is cool as there were always loads of things I wanted. you have to remember to cancel the editions every time which can be a pain but its worth it.

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                  20.04.2001 21:10
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                  The joining offer allows you to buy 6 books (or sets of books) from a list for hugely reduced prices. I picked up a hard back illustrated copy of the Lord of the Rings (rrp £40-£50) for about £4.50. The membership conditions are that you buy at least one book from the first four quarterly magazines and after that you have no obligation. The books in the magazines are fairly priced, all of them are below rrp by at least £1 and every now and then there's a real bargain. Occasionally there is a magazine with nothing in that I find I really want but to make one purchase of a book as a 'luxury' I find forgiveable. The system is that you return your order for that quarter within a certain time or you get sent the editors choice. The time limit is lengthy allowing you to forget about it for a time and still make the deadline. Even if you don't they are very forgiving and usually give you a few days extra. I'm really forgetful and haven't been sent the editors choice yet. They work with the standard (9days) return policy and are very good about things. When they run offers like buy two books and get another cheap or whatever if you then cancel one of the items they still give you the reduced price on the 'third' book wiothout bothering that you didn't actually fill the criteria for the deal. As with all book clubs they work on a guaranteed sale system but I have found the selection they offer each quarter tempting enough that buying a book was no chore and all their policies are initially fair and leniently implemented, they seem a very reasonable group to join if you want cheap books.

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