Newest Review: ... Christmas. So far I have only paid for the introductory book and the cookery book, as Mango are currently not asking for payment of order... more
Frothy fun lacking a competitive edge
Member Name: weebagpuss
Date: 21/08/01, updated on 21/08/01 (90 review reads)
Advantages: good choice of contemporary and 'trendy' fiction, some good bargains to be found
Disadvantages: committment , delivery charge, delivery time
Ever since the age of two, when I’d sit in my wooden swiss chalet in the garden, surrounded with Enid Blyton books, I’ve always been an avid reader. I’m the sort of person who, wherever I’m going, always has to pack a book in case of emergencies – being kept waiting for a train for example! Consequently, because I get through books so quickly, I’ve been on the look out for many years for ways to acquire them more cheaply. Before I became such a frequent net user, I was always keen to join bookclubs, since books were usually cheaper here than on the high street. One such bookclub was Mango.
Mango is very similar in setup to the other bookclubs which operate out of Swindon – e.g. World Books. You get an initial, highly attractive, joining offer, usually along the lines of buy five books for a fiver plus p&p at £2.35, and then you have a commitment to buy four or sometimes six books in your first year. These offers vary; it depends where you see an advertisement for the club, or sometimes whether you have already joined another. Mango has a specific target audience for its books – young women. The types of books that it offers certainly have a limited appeal – I can’t imagine many of the males on here being particularly interested! As the name of the club suggests when you break it down into two words – “man...go” – it’s really just suited to female readers.
Many of the books offered are of the light and frothy variety – think Jill Mansell, Fiona Walker, Marian Keyes and Catherine Alliot. Describing these authors as light and frothy doesn’t however mean that I’m knocking their style of writing, after all, no-one wants to read heavy, intellectual works all the time – we all need a bit of what a friend of mine has described as chewing gum for the brain. Going back to my introductory comment about the need for an ‘emergency’ boo
k – these fit the bill perfectly since they are ideal for reading whilst keeping one ear out for the sound of an approaching train, or for your boss coming round the corner! Hehehe it’s so good working at the museum and just lazing around reading novels when it’s quiet! Whilst the books featured in the magazine are never really challenging or intellectual, they are always the best choices from this particular genre, and usually (though it’s not really possible to generalise!) pretty compelling once you get started.
Each month with Mango, you are sent a magazine (in the first year, this is where you have to choose your 4 or 6 books from). The magazine is usually about 24 pages long, in A5 format.
Once you’ve fulfilled the initial commitment, there is then no obligation to buy anything further, You do have to make sure you cancel the editor’s choice, known as the “Red Hot Reads” each month however – but this is very easy and there are three ways to do it. You can either ring the national rate number, and do it automatically simply by typing in your membership number and pressing a few buttons. Mind you, I find that fairly frequently, this number has technical difficulties! It’s just as well then that they have a website as well, you can log on here with your membership number to start with, and then you are given a user name, and from here you can choose to buy books, or to reject the editor’s choice – you then get an email confirming that it is rejected. There is also the option to cancel by post – but why pay the cost of a stamp when the internet way is probably for many people much cheaper? I also prefer getting the email confirming my rejection – then if they do ever send me the book, I can prove it was rejected. This has never happened yet though!
Looking at this month’s magazine, to give you an idea of the type of book offered, the red hot reads are
Victoria Routledge “…And for Starters”, Jill Mansell, “Sheer Mischief” and Chris Manby, “Running Away from Richard”. These three books are sold at a cost of £11.97 for all three, plus the £2.35 p&p. Good value, I think you’ll agree. The rest of the magazine however does not seem to be as good value – the books are reasonably priced, but no outstanding offers, although the 2 books for £8.98 seems a reasonable option. Other books featured include Zoe Barnes, “Ex Appeal”, Morag Prunty, “Dancing with Mules”, and Katie Fforde, “Time Out”. There is also a ‘spine tinglers’ section, which includes books by Minette Walters and Patricia Cornwell – I am not a great fan of these so usually skip these couple of pages.
Each book is pictured, with a brief description of it, and sometimes comments by the editor, if it’s particularly recommended. I find this useful, especially as it often says “if you’re a fan of X, then you might enjoy Y”, as this helps to point you in the direction of authors you might enjoy. Even though now I can find the same books cheaper on the internet, I still enjoy to read this little magazine to give me some ideas about books I may be interested in, and sometimes to find out a bit about the authors. It is a shame that the prices are not a bit better – they are nowhere near as good as the introductory offer would lead you to believe!
Delivery of the books is not as good as the internet competitors. With places such as Amazon and Alphabetstreet, I have frequently seen my books arrive within a couple of days of ordering, but with Mango, books can take up 28 days to arrive, which isn’t really that good considering so many other places now have next day delivery service, however you only pay £2.35 per order, cheaper than Amazon who I feel rip you off with their p&p charges! The books are delivered b
y White Arrow, and if you out at work all day, you can tell your bookclub of a safe place where they could be left (inside your back gate, shed, with a neighbour etc) and then White Arrow will leave them there for you which is very useful.
To pay, you can either send a cheque off to Mango, ring and quote your credit card number (they don’t take switch yet) or use the internet – again, I believe this to be the easiest way, and you can check up on the progress of any orders this way too. It’s nice to be able to browse through the little magazine, and then go on line and order, having already decided what you will be buying.
If you are a fan of this type of women’s writing, and know you won’t have any problems meeting the commitment, then this is probably a good club for you to join. Once you’ve got the 5 books for a fiver and then four almost full price books, the total cost per book when you divide the total amount by 9 is very reasonable indeed, and it makes sense to join and then maybe stop there – since there is no further commitment. You can then do what I do, browse through the little magazine and then search on the net for the same book at a cheaper price and with speedier delivery.
Now, so many people have internet access and shopping with other book sites can often reveal much better bargains, particularly when the books are as popular as those featured in Mango. If you only read this type of book occasionally, then it’s not really worth your while joining the club. In the pre-internet era, I would have recommended it wholeheartedly, but now we are used to much quicker and easier internet shopping and at lower prices, with a much wider choice available. Therefore, overall, whilst I think that a few years ago, this book club would have got 5 stars, now, simply due to the fact that it’s operating in a much more competitive environment, I’m only going to give it 4 stars, si
nce it is no longer the best deal around.