A comparative roundup of book clubs new and old

Here is a capsule listing of a cross section of active clubs. Readers should write them directly for further information. All clubs use negative option (explained above) unless otherwise indicated. Shipping costs are extra except as noted. GENERAL INTEREST

* Book-of-the-Month Club, 485 Lexington Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017. Est. 1926. All categories of nonfiction and fiction. Fifteen bulletins yearly: 1 main , 15 alternate selections; 700 backlist titles annually. Minimum purchase usually 4 books, no time limit. Discounts 10 to 20 percent. Prices $8.95 to $15. 95; average $13.95.

* Literary Guild of America, Garden City, N.Y. 11530. Est. 1926. Current fiction, nonfiction. Often club editions scaled-down from publishers'. Fourteen bulletins yearly: 2 main, 100 alternate selections; yearly backlist and discounts not disclosed. Minimum purchase usually 4 books, no time limit. Prices $6.95 to $17.95; average $11.95.

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* Preferred Choice Bookplan, One Park Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10016. Est. 1979 . Fiction, nonfiction. Occasionally club editions scaled down from publishers'. Fifteen bulletins yearly: 1 main, 10 to 13 alternate selections; over 500 backlist titles annually. No minimum purchase required. Discounts 30 percent. Prices $10 to $25; average $12 to 15. PAPERBACKS

* Quality Paperback Book Club, Middletown, Pa. 17057. Est. 1974. Fiction and nonfiction paperbacks. Some books available only through club (45 this year). Fifteen bulletins yearly: 1 main, 8 or 9 alternate selections; 500 backlist titles annually. No minimum purchase required. Discounts up to 25 percent. Prices $3.95 to $20; average $6.95. CLASSICS

* Library of America, One Lincoln Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10022. Est. 1982. Collected works of classic US authors (Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Whitman on spring list) in uniform slipcase editions of up to 1,500 pages. Priced at $19 .95. Marketing handled by Time-Life Books. Books mailed automatically for 15 days' examination. No minimum purchase required. Jacketed editions (by the Viking Press) available in stores to nonsubscribers at $25. Eight volumes planned for '82. Series could run to 100 volumes.

* Folio Society, c/o Expediters of the Printed Word Ltd., 527 Madison Avenue, Suite 1217, New York, N.Y. 10022. Est. 1947. British editions of major and minor classics, specially bound and illustrated. Yearly prospectus lists 14 new selections, over 100 backlist titles. Members order once a year. Minimum purchase 4 books yearly. Prices $14 to $30 postpaid; average $22. Books not available in stores.

* Limited Editions Club, 551 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017. Founded 1929 . Hand-numbered, custom-designed, specially printed editions of major and minor classics, using fine materials. Often signed by writer or artist. Membership limited to 2,000. Books not available in stores. Members get 10 books yearly, described in annual prospectus. Price $1,000.

* The Heritage Club, 47 Richards Avenue, Norwalk, Conn. 06857. Est. 1935 as sister organization to Limited Editions Club. No longer affiliated. Publishes classics in the public domain, with special attention to design, binding, and materials. Each volume $13.50. Number of new selections per year and size of backlist not disclosed. Members order once a year. Purchase requirement: 1 book per month. Books not sold in stores.

* The Classics Club, Rosalyn, N.Y. 11576. Est. 1941. Major classics in uniform, specially bound editions. Number of selections not disclosed. No minimum purchase required. Prices $8.49. HISTORY/POLITICS/ECONOMICS

* History Book Club, 40 Guernsey Street, Stamford, Conn. 06904. Est. 1937. World and American history. Thirteen bulletins yearly: 1 main, 7 alternate selections; 200 backlist titles annually. Minimum purchase 4 books in 2 years. Discounts up to 33 percent. Prices $10.50 to $75; average $13.75.

* Fortune Book Club, 485 Lexington Avenue, New York, N.Y., 10017. Est. 1970. No longer affilitated with Fortune magazine. Business, investment, economy, management, consumer affairs, personal finance, current affairs. Fifteen bulletins yearly: 1 main, 6 alternate selections; 150 backlist titles annually. Minimum purchase usually 3 books in 2 years. Discounts vary widely. Prices $8.95 to $16.95; average $12.95.

* Conservative Book Club, 15 Oakland Avenue, Harrison, N.Y. 10528. Est. 1964. Back in hands of founder after several years of separate management. Conservative political philosophy, economics, investment, current affairs, and political history. Thirteen bulletins yearly: 1 main, 5 to 12 alternate selections; 65 backlist titles annually. Discounts 20 to 50 percent. Prices $4. 95 to $20; average $9 to $10. Minimum purchase usually 4 books in 18 months.

* Veritas Book Club, 143 Sound Beach Avenue, Old Greenwich, Conn. 06870. Est. 1971. Affiliated with Devin-Adair Company, which publishes 45 percent of club's selections. Conservative political philosophy, economics, education, current affairs. Twelve bulletins yearly: 1 main, 3 alternate selections; 350 backlist titles annually. Minimum purchase 2 books in 2 years. Discounts 20 to 30 percent. Prices $3.95 to $15; average $9.95. TECHNOLOGY/SCIENCE

* Book of the Month Club/Science, 485 Lexington Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017 . Est. 1981. Full range of science for educated lay people. Fifteen bulletins yearly: 1 main, 4 alternate selections; 500 backlist titles annually. Discounts 10 to 20 percent. Prices $8.95 to $15.95; average $13.95.

* The Library of Science, Riverside, N.J. 08370. Est. 1962. Physical and life sciences, mathematics, electronics at level of Scientific American magazine. Sixteen bulletins yearly: 1 or 2 main, 4 or 5 alternate selections; 150 backlist titles annually. Minimum purchase usually 3 books in 1 year. Discounts 20 to 30 percent. Prices $11.95 to $23.95; average $13.95.

* The Natural Science Book Club, Riverside, N.J. 08370. Est. 1963. Archaeology, astronomy, physics, nature, wildlife, earth science, the outdoors. Fifteen bulletins yearly: 1 main, 4 or 5 alternate selections; 150 backlist titles annually. Minimum purchase usually 3 books in 1 year. Discounts 20 to 30 percent. Prices $11.95 to $33.50; average $15.95.

* The Computer Book Club, Blue Ridge Summit, Pa. 17214. Est. 1981. Affiliated with TAB Books, which publishes 60 percent of selections. Books and software available. Thirteen bulletins yearly: 1 main, 2 alternate selections; 400 backlist titles annually; 60 to 75 programs offered annually. Minimum purchase 4 books in 1 year. Discounts 25 to 75 percent. Prices $6.95 to $18.95; average $10 to $11.

* Personal Computer Users' Group, 143 Sound Beach Avenue, Old Greenwich, Conn. 06870. Est. 1981. Affiliated with Devin-Adair Company, which publishes 10 to 20 percent of club's selections. Books and software available. Six bulletins yearly: 1 main, 15 to 20 alternate selections; 80 backlist titles annually. Minimum purchase 2 books over 2 years. Discounts 20 to 30 percent. Prices $7.95 to $19.95; average $25. Programs priced up to $100. GARDENING/ECOLOGY

* Self-Sufficiency Book Club, 33 East Minor Street, Emmaus, Pa. 18049. Est. 1979. Affiliated with Rodale Press, which publishes 55 percent of club's selections. Solar and other forms of renewable energy, home building, remodeling , practical house crafts. Thirteen bulletins yearly: 1 main, 2 alternate selections; 60 backlist titles annually. Minimum purchase usually 2 books in 1 year. Discounts 20 percent. Prices $6.50 to $24.95; average $13.95.

* Ecological Book Club, 143 Sound Beach Avenue., Old Greenwich, Conn. 06870. Est. 1971. Affiliated with Devin-Adair Company, which publishes 40 percent of club's selections. Environmental concerns, science, natural foods, gardening, outdoors, environmental history, health. Twelve bulletins yearly: 1 main, 3 alternate selections; 400 backlist titles annually. Minimum purchase 2 books in 2 years. Discounts 20 to 30 percent. Prices $5.95 to $14.95; average $9.95. HOBBIES/CRAFTS

* Cooking and Crafts Book Club, 485 Lexington Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017. Est. 1975. Cookbooks by major chefs, sewing, needlework, embroidery, macrame, quilting, knitting, crochet, dollmaking, seasonal crafts. Fifteen bulletins yearly: 1 main, 5 alternate selections; 250 backlist titles annually. Minimum purchase usually 3 books in 1 year. Discounts vary widely. Prices $8.95 to $15. 95; average $13.95.

* The Popular Photography Book Club, 1515 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10036. Est. 1978. No longer affiliated with Popular Photography magazine. How-to books on photography, materials and equipment, exhibiting, and collections. Fifteen bulletins yearly: 1 main, 3 or 4 alternate selections; 450 backlist titles annually. Minimum purchase usually 4 books in 2 years. Discounts 10 to 40 percent. Prices $6.95 to $35; average $15.95.

* Movie Entertainment Book Club, 15 Oakland Avenue, Harrison, N.Y. 10528. Est. 1970. Film, TV, and popular music. Thirteen bulletins yearly: 1 main, 5 alternate selections, plus a members' swap column offering movie memoribilia, etc.; 100 backlist titles annually. Minimum purchase generally 4 books over 2 years. Discounts 20 to 33 percent. Prices $6.89 to $59.95; average $13 to $15.

* Nostalgia Book Club, One Park Avenue, New York, N.Y., 10016. Est. 1967. Books on films of '30s, '40s, and '50s, TV, big bands, jazz. Fifteen bulletins yearly: 1 main, 4 to 6 alternate selections; over 300 backlist titles annually. No minimum purchase required. Discounts 20 percent. Prices $10 to $25; average $ 15.

* How-To Book Club, Blue Ridge Summit, Pa. 17214. Est. 1976. Affiliated with TAB Books, which publishes 70 percent of club's selections. Crafts, home repair, remodeling, basic skills. Thirteen bulletins yearly: 1 main, 2 to 4 alternate selections; 350 backlist titles annually. Minimum purchase 4 books in 1 year. Discounts 25 to 75 percent. Prices $4.95 to $17.95; average $9.95.

* The Cat Lovers Book Club, One Union Square, New York, N.Y. 10003. Est. 1982 . Care, humor, photo collections. Fifteen bulletins yearly: 1 main, 1 to 4 alternate selections; 40 to 50 backlist titles annually. Minimum purchase 4 books in 2 years. Discounts 20 to 40 percent. Prices $6 to $15; average $9. SMALL PRESSES

* Small Press Book Club. A part of Small Press Review, PO Box 100, Paradise, Calif. 95969. Est. 1968. Yearly subscription $14 for individuals, $20 for institutions. Twelve bulletins yearly, published as supplement to Small Press Review; 70 titles yearly, including small magazines. No books sent without order from subscriber. No discounts from retail. Prices $1 to $25, average $5 to $6. Books and magazines also available from individual publishers.

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