When will my subscription begin?

With the next month's book (allowing a short time for processing), if you subscribe to the Full Plan. TRUE Plan subscriptions will begin with the next odd-numbered month, and MADE-UP Plan subscriptions will begin with the next even-numbered month. If you would like your subscription to begin with the current month's book, please let us know.

If I make a gift subscription, how will the recipient be notified?

If you mark your subscription as a gift, we will contact you to ask how you would like to present the gift. Each subscriber will receive a welcome card and letter explaining the program, and you can choose to have us mail the card to the recipient or mail it to you to present it yourself. (The recipient won't receive an email from us until they have received the welcome card.) Of course, if you subscribe in person at Phinney Books, we'll just sort it out right there.

Will subscriptions be automatically renewed?

No, they won't. Towards the end of the year we'll ask you (or the person who gave you the gift) if you'd like to renew. We might ask more than once, but we'll try not to be a pain.

Can I subscribe for more than a year?

Thanks for your faith in us! (Will the world as we know it even exist a year from now?) At this point, only one-year subscriptions are available.

What happens if you send me a book I already have or have already read, or I'm pretty sure I won't like?

Up to three times a year, if you're a Full Plan subscriber, you can let us know that you'd like to return that month's book. We'll send you a postage-paid sticker to return it to us, and we'll extend your subscription a month. TRUE and MADE-UP subscribers may return one book a year.

What if I change my address?

Please let us know at in time for the next month's delivery. If you know ahead of time that you will have a different address for part of the year, let us know in advance and we'll make a note of it.

Can I cancel my subscription?

You can cancel your subscription at any time, and we'll refund the balance for the books you haven't received yet.

Can I subscribe from anywhere in the world?

Standard Phinney by Post subscriptions can only be sent to domestic US and APO/FPO/DPO addresses, but we have added an option for Canadian subscribers that includes a $5 shipping surcharge per book. (Choose "Shipping to Canada" as the shipping option when choosing your plan.) If you would like to have a subscription mailed somewhere else in the world, contact us at and we'll look into the feasibility and surcharges required.

How will the books be shipped?

US subscribers will receive their books via USPS Media Mail. Delivery times won't be guaranteed, but will likely be in the first week of each month.

Can I choose to pick up my books at Phinney Books instead of having them shipped to me?

Certainly. If you choose "In-store Pickup" as your shipping option during checkout, you'll save $40/year for a Full Plan and $20/year for a TRUE or MADE-UP Plan.

You don't publish these books yourselves, right?

No, at this point these are just standard paperback editions published by traditional publishing houses. We confess that one of our dreams is to build our Phinney by Post subscriber list enough that we can bring books back into print ourselves, with our members as the first to receive the new copies, or do other custom editions, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Is there a way to discuss the books with my fellow subscribers?

Good question. Not yet, but if there's enough interest, we might set up an online discussion venue, or we might encourage interested subscribers to do so. We'd love to hear what you think.

Define "fiction" and "nonfiction."

That's not a question.

How do you define "fiction" and "nonfiction"? What about poetry? What about W.G. Sebald?

Having already declared that one of the qualities we look for in our Phinney by Post selections is their willingness to resist established genres and invent new ones, we reserve the right to send books to MADE-UP subscribers that are, in fact, largely true, and to send books to TRUE subscribers in which a great deal has been made up. Poetry could go either way; ditto Sebald.

How do I know if I'm going to like the books you choose?

We don't know. It's impossible to say! You can get some idea of what we like from the books we've chosen so far, the description on the main Phinney by Post page, and from the Phinney Books weekly newsletter as well. It's inevitable that the books we love won't always be loved by everyone who gets them—sometimes we even change our minds about a book ourselves on a second read—but we hope you'll give what we send you a chance, and we hope we'll have a pretty good success rate.

What are your introductory notes like?

They are physically attractive, for one thing. (See the next question.) They are designed to introduce the book, without spoiling it. They are short. Sometimes we might ask a guest writer to introduce a book they love. In all cases it's certainly fine if you choose to wait to read them until you've read the book, or not to read them at all.

Why do all the materials related to Phinney by Post look so good?

That's because they have been designed, and in some cases printed, by Elinor Nissley at Krank Press in Los Angeles. Thank you, Elinor!

Can we get in touch with you with questions or suggestions or comments?

Please do: we're at and 206-297-2665 (the main store number). Although we take advantage of some of the efficiencies of the internet (and of the still-marvelous U.S. Postal Service), we are not a fully, or even mostly, automated service. We'll be happy to respond to any question you have, both before you subscribe and after. We'll also love to hear what you think about the service, and about the books we choose.