How does Book of the Month Make Money? | Explained

Book of the Month (BOTM) is an online book subscription service that has been around since 1926. The company was founded by Harry Scherman, a publishing executive who wanted to create a more accessible and affordable way for people to discover and read new books. Over the years, BOTM has evolved with the times and now operates as a modern e-commerce platform that provides readers with a curated selection of books each month.

As a popular and well-established subscription service, one might wonder how Book of the Month makes money. In this article, we will explore the different revenue streams that BOTM utilizes to generate profits.

How does BOTM Work

Book of the Month works by offering subscribers a curated selection of five books to choose from each month. The books are chosen by a panel of judges, which includes authors, editors, and other literary experts. The judges read hundreds of books each month and select the best five titles based on literary merit, diversity, and appeal to a broad audience.

Subscribers then choose one book from the selection, which is shipped to them at the beginning of the month. If subscribers want to receive additional books, they can add on up to two additional titles for an additional fee.

BOTM offers several membership options to fit different reading habits and budgets. The standard membership costs $14.99 per month and includes one book, while the premium membership costs $24.99 per month and includes one book plus one additional add-on book. BOTM also offers a digital membership option, which costs $9.99 per month and includes access to e-book versions of the monthly selections.

BOTM allows subscribers to skip a month if they’re not interested in the selection or if they need to take a break from their subscription. Subscribers can also choose to pause their membership or cancel at any time.

One of the unique features of BOTM is its active online community. Subscribers can share their thoughts and reviews of the monthly selections on the BOTM website and social media channels. BOTM also hosts live events, author Q&A sessions, and online book clubs, providing subscribers with opportunities to engage with the books and other readers.

How does BOTM Work

From a business standpoint, BOTM makes money through its subscription fees and add-on book options. The company negotiates deals with publishers to purchase the books at a discounted rate, allowing them to offer the books to subscribers at a lower cost than retail. BOTM also earns revenue through partnerships and collaborations with authors, publishers, and other brands in the book industry.

Overall, BOTM’s subscription-based business model has proven to be a successful and sustainable way to provide readers with a curated selection of books while also generating revenue and fostering a vibrant online community.

History of BOTM

Book of the Month (BOTM) is a book subscription service that has been around since 1926. The company was founded by Harry Scherman, a publishing executive who wanted to create a more accessible and affordable way for people to discover and read new books.

At the time, buying books was an expensive and exclusive activity, with only the wealthiest individuals having access to a wide selection of titles. Scherman recognized that there was a gap in the market for a more affordable and accessible way to discover new books, and thus, Book of the Month was born.

The first iteration of BOTM was a mail-order service that sent subscribers one book per month for a fee of $3. Scherman and his team of literary experts handpicked each title, ensuring that they were of high quality and would appeal to a wide audience.

BOTM quickly gained popularity, with thousands of subscribers signing up in the first few months of operation. By 1935, BOTM had over 100,000 subscribers, making it one of the largest book clubs in the world.

Over the years, BOTM continued to innovate and adapt to changing consumer preferences. In the 1950s and 1960s, BOTM introduced several new features, including special editions of classic titles, hardcover editions of new releases, and the addition of children’s books to the selection.

In the 1970s, BOTM faced increased competition from other book clubs and the rise of bookstores. To stay relevant, BOTM introduced several new features, including an expanded selection of titles, personalized book recommendations, and the addition of audiobooks to the selection.

In the 1990s, BOTM faced another challenge as online booksellers like Amazon gained popularity. To stay competitive, BOTM launched its first website in 1996, allowing subscribers to manage their accounts and choose books online.

In the early 2000s, BOTM faced increased competition from e-books and digital media. To adapt, the company introduced a digital membership option that allowed subscribers to choose e-books instead of physical books.

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Today, Book of the Month continues to operate as an online book subscription service, with a focus on convenience, affordability, and a curated selection of books. The company has adapted and evolved over the years, but its core mission of making it easier and more affordable for people to discover and read new books has remained the same. With a rich history and a commitment to innovation, BOTM is well-positioned to continue to be a leader in the online book industry for many years to come.

Revenue Streams

Subscription Fees

The primary revenue source for BOTM is through its subscription fees. Customers can choose to subscribe to BOTM for either 3, 6, or 12 months, with prices ranging from $49.99 to $149.99, depending on the subscription duration. Each month, BOTM members can choose one book from a selection of five curated titles, which are shipped to their doorstep free of charge.

BOTM’s subscription fees cover the cost of the books, shipping, and handling, but also generate a profit for the company. By offering a curated selection of books and the convenience of doorstep delivery, BOTM has built a loyal customer base that is willing to pay for the service.

Membership Upgrades

Book of the month Membership Upgrades

In addition to its standard subscription plans, BOTM also offers a premium membership upgrade called BOTM Plus. This program costs an additional $10 per month and provides members with access to exclusive titles and author interviews, as well as the ability to add additional books to their monthly box for an extra fee.

The BOTM Plus program offers additional revenue streams for the company, as customers are willing to pay more for exclusive content and additional book options. The program also incentivizes customers to remain subscribed for longer periods, as they can access exclusive content and benefits.

Affiliate Marketing

BOTM also generates revenue through its affiliate marketing program. The company partners with bloggers, book influencers, and other websites to promote its service to a wider audience. In return, BOTM pays a commission to affiliates for each new customer they refer to the service.

This affiliate marketing program helps BOTM reach new audiences and generate more subscription sign-ups. It also provides an additional revenue stream for the company, as affiliates are incentivized to promote the service to their followers and readers.

Brand Partnerships

Another way that BOTM generates revenue is through brand partnerships. The company partners with other brands to offer exclusive book selections or promotions to its subscribers. For example, BOTM has partnered with brands such as Reese Witherspoon’s book club, Oprah’s Book Club, and the New York Times to offer curated book selections and promotions to its members.

These brand partnerships not only provide additional revenue streams for BOTM but also help the company reach new audiences and build its brand recognition.


Finally, BOTM generates revenue through advertising. The company offers advertising space on its website and in its monthly newsletters to publishers, authors, and other book-related companies. These ads can be targeted to specific BOTM subscribers based on their reading preferences and purchase history.

Advertising provides an additional revenue stream for BOTM while also providing a valuable service to publishers and authors who want to promote their books to a highly engaged and active audience.

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BOTM Funding, Revenue & Valuation

Book of the Month has raised a total of $53.2 million in funding since its founding in 1926. In 2015, the company was acquired by a group of investors led by John Lippman, the former CEO of EMI Music Publishing. The acquisition was made through Lippman’s investment firm, Jolly Fisher Ventures, which also includes other prominent investors such as Susan Lyne, former CEO of AOL’s Brand Group, and Gary Ginsberg, former executive vice president of Time Warner Inc.

Since the acquisition, BOTM has continued to grow and expand its business. The company has seen steady revenue growth in recent years, with revenue reaching $50 million in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has also contributed to a surge in demand for BOTM’s services, as more people have turned to online book subscriptions as a way to discover and read new books while staying at home.

BOTM’s valuation is not publicly disclosed, as the company is privately held. However, industry analysts estimate that the company’s valuation is in the range of $100 million to $200 million based on its revenue and growth potential.

BOTM Funding, Revenue & Valuation

In addition to its core subscription business, BOTM has also diversified its revenue streams by launching several new initiatives. In 2018, the company launched a book club partnership program, which allows organizations to offer their members access to BOTM’s curated book selection. BOTM also launched an e-commerce platform in 2020, allowing customers to purchase individual books from the company’s selection without a subscription.

BOTM’s success can be attributed to its innovative business model, strong community engagement, and commitment to providing readers with a high-quality selection of books. With a strong track record of growth and a leadership team with extensive experience in the book and media industries, BOTM is well-positioned to continue to thrive in the years to come.

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BOTM competitors

While Book of the Month (BOTM) is a leader in the book subscription industry, it does face competition from other companies offering similar services. Here are some of BOTM’s main competitors:

  1. The Literati: The Literati is a book subscription service that offers personalized book selections curated by well-known authors. The company’s subscription options include adult and children’s books, and subscribers can choose to receive a new book every month or every quarter.
  2. OwlCrate: OwlCrate is a book subscription service focused on young adult literature. The company’s monthly boxes include a newly released hardcover book along with 3-5 bookish items and exclusive author content.
  3. The Bookish Box: The Bookish Box is a monthly subscription service that includes a newly released book along with bookish items such as bookmarks, candles, and tote bags. The company also offers specialty boxes focused on specific genres and themes.
  4. Powell’s Indiespensable: Powell’s Indiespensable is a book subscription service offered by Powell’s Books, an independent bookstore based in Portland, Oregon. The subscription includes a newly released book along with exclusive author interviews, signed copies, and other bookish items.
  5. Once Upon a Book Club: Once Upon a Book Club is a unique book subscription service that includes a newly released book along with 3-5 wrapped gifts. The gifts correspond to specific pages in the book and are meant to enhance the reading experience.

While these companies offer similar services to BOTM, each has its own unique approach and target audience. BOTM’s focus on literary merit, diversity, and community engagement sets it apart from its competitors, and the company’s long history and established reputation give it a competitive advantage in the book subscription market.


In conclusion, Book of the Month generates revenue through a variety of sources, including subscription fees, membership upgrades, affiliate marketing, brand partnerships, and advertising. By utilizing these revenue streams, BOTM has become a successful and profitable online book subscription service that continues to innovate and adapt to changing consumer preferences.

With its focus on convenience, affordability, and curated book selections, BOTM has built a loyal customer base that is willing to pay for the service, making it a valuable and successful business in the online book industry.

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