Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Book Buying Online

I'm making this a POST instead of a comment because it's about books in general. Also, I didn't know where I'd post it as a comment and I wanted people to see it and respond. I hope that's okay.

For those of your who buy books online, I have a few questions.

I buy a lot of books to begin with and now that I've discovered book clubs I'm buying even more, especially with all the talk about what else everyone's reading and recommending, so I'm exploring this option to see if I can get more books for my money -- see.. I didn't say pay less for my books.

What websites do you shop from? Do you buy new or used? If used, are the conditions reliably rated on that site? How much do books usually costs on the site? How long does it usually take to receive your order? Have you had a good experience shopping there? As well as anything else I might need to know about the process.

I've ordered text books online when I was in college and grad school but usually from B&N or the publisher's site. A few months ago, I ordered a used book from Amazon.com for a book club read when I couldn't find it locally. The book was in great conditions but took nearly three weeks to arrive. I was pricing our November and possible December selection on there and it seemed like you had to pay $3.99 for shipping for each used book you got. Adding that to the price of the book makes most of the books I looked at only a dollar or two under $10, some being $10 or above. I usually pay $8-12, sometimes more, sometimes less, for a paperback. So the hassle of checking prices, ordering, and possible long wait times to get the books seemed like this might not be as worthwhile as I had originally hoped.

But, a lot of people order their books online, cheaply and with good results. So, I'm polling other book club members looking for more information since googling various terms related to what I was looking for didn't yield much in the way of productive results, mostly a lot of meta searches of individual online book sites comparing prices.

So, please leave me some COMMENTS ya'll and help me out! Thanks!

--- Anne ---

7 comments:

Marg said...

Bear in mind that I am not based in the US, so I can't use a lot of the really cheap websites, but one I do use quite regularly is The Book Depository. It is based in the UK, but has free shipping to many countries around the world including Australia and the US.

http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/WEBSITE/WWW/WEBPAGES/viewarticle.php?type=aboutus&id=1

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Yes, Anne, a post is always okay. I believe you are in the United States, as I am.

There's no such thing as a "usual price" at any online store. You just have to comparison shop. I've found that Amazon.com often has the best price for NEW books, but sometimes there is no discount from the full price.

I usually buy from ABE.com when I want a USED book. ABE is Advanced Book Exchange, where I have sold books. So I know the vendors there must follow ABE's guidelines in describing a book, carefully noting if there's a crease on the front corner of a paperback or a hardback is lacking its dust jacket, etc. The vendors on Amazon and Barnes & Noble (bn.com) aren't under any such constraints, to my knowledge, and many are selling one or two books at a time out of their homes. That's why you pay shipping for EACH book, because they are coming from several different vendors. Genuine booksellers will also wrap the book up better so that it arrives in good condition ... because they want to stay in business.

Caboose and several others order books through me, since I had a bookstore and still have access to my sources (along with paying my fees and costs). I order the book and have it sent directly to you, if possible, to save time. I can usually get a book to you within two working days, and usually it takes about the same time for Amazon's NEW books ... or else they will tell you up front. USED books from Amazon and Barnes & Noble are provided by outside sources, so it takes longer. ABE's vendors tell you how long they expect shipping to take, but it can vary.

I hope this helps. If I haven't answered all your questions, let me know.

Kristina said...

Anne,
I agree that it's hard to find a book for cheap. I had to order the October selection from Amazon but it was hardback, in great condition, and with the 3.99 shipping I think I only paid about $9 or so. So, there are some good deals on Amazon, you just have to find them. Half.com also has pretty much the same setup, sometimes too expensive but from different sellers like Amazon. I've also searched Overstock.com but usually also about the same pricing.
I belong to Paperbackswap.com. I'm sure you've heard of it but if not, it's a site where you list books you want to give away (it took me awhile to be able to do that) and you can request books from others. The only cost is the price to mail the book. The only thing with that site is, there are a lot of users and you are put on a wishlist if the book is not readily available. Sometimes that wishlist can be over 100 or 200 people long. And that takes forever, but if you aren't in a rush it's worth it.
If none of those sites work for me I usually just end up at the library looking for it and reserving it if someone has it out.
Hope that helped!!

Neco said...

Thanks Marg, Bonnie, and Kristina for your good (and detailed!) answers. I actually hadn't heard of a few of those sites which I'm going to go check out.

I generally like my books new or nearly as good as new (ie I don't want one with a torn up cover or writing in the pages) since I never know what I'll end up wanting to keep. It does sound like a lot of searching and comparison shopping (plus separate shipping fees! yuck!) and may not be much much cheaper than buying books new with a discount card. But, I wanted to see what was out there for options.

Neco said...

Oh yeah, Bonnie, I am in the States. I live in South Carolina. Missed putting that in my other comment, oops.

Toby said...

I decided to try ABE books for the first time last week. Someone had mentioned that she used this site, even before it was mentioned here. I ordered Nov's book selection. My CC was already charged, but I may not get my book until Nov. 13th. It's a new book.The book cost less than the other online stores mentioned below, around $5 something & shipping cost almost as much at $4 something. I think the total was around $10.33. Now, I do wonder if I should have paid a few dollars more to get the book sooner from amazon, barns & noble or books a million.

Toby said...

Bonnie, how do your prices compare to amazon for a book? Are they new books?I would consider ordering the books from you if the book costs the same or less. Would I pay by check or credit card? Not sure how you have this set up.