Buying books online: The Book Depository, Booko and others

I used to buy books online through Amazon on a regular basis. Not anymore. Fact is, I am buying fewer books these days, and since moving to Australia, I often find it hard to justify the expensive shipping cost.

For example, Amazon charges US$4.99 per shipment and US$4.99 per book. For buying a single item, I have to pay 10 bucks for shipment! Even if I include 5 items in the order, say, average shipping cost is still a considerable 6 bucks. And the peril of placing multiple items in the order is that, quite often, I was doing that just for the sake of bring down the average cost, without thinking through whether I really want them all.

As for Amazon UK, for a long time I thought there's nothing that Amazon couldn't do for me, and at lower prices. The sharp decline of the pound over the past year, however, has made UK-based online booksellers potentially attractive.

In comparison, Amazon UK's per shipment and per book costs are £4.99 (roughly US$7.3 at current exchange rate) and £2.99 (US$4.4) respectively. Not particularly competitive.

What motivates me to write this blog entry is the existence (which I just learnt days ago) of a UK-based online bookseller called The Book Depository. It sells books mostly at RRP or 10% below that. But it offers free worldwide delivery! So, while UK book lovers (and certainly Northern American ones) may find its business model not particularly attractive, since they can usually buy books at considerable discounts, and with free local delivery, those like me who live in other parts of the world may think otherwise.

So, is it more economical for me to buy books through The Book Depository rather than the Amazons? A simple mental exercise tells me that The Book Depository would be very attractive for buying inexpensive books, particularly just a single book, like the latest bestselling paperback novel. The more expensive the books are, and the more items you have in the order, the more attractive the Amazons become.

Can I be more precise? I can't. But the Booko can.

Booko is a clever little site for finding "the cheapest place to buy books & DVDs in Australia". It is essentially a price comparison site, tailor-made for Australian buyers. I am sure there are similar things out there (AddALL, for example), but Booko is just so much better.

Just type-in the search terms for a book, choose the right one (and/or the right edition) and Booko would display the total cost for buying that book from international and Australian sellers. How about buying multiple items per order? Just put each of them in the "shopping cart" and Booko would display the total cost for the entire order. Now that's clever.

I am (pleasantly) surprised that The Book Depository is almost always the cheapest (and much cheaper) place to buy a single book. Even for multiple items, it more often than not emerges as the winner.

But it does have a disadvantage when it comes to hot-off-the-press books from the US. In those cases, Better World Books (US$3.95 flat worldwide) and DeepDiscount.com (US$5.95 for order of up to US$25) often offer good deals.

It is almost never justifiable to buy books from Australian online booksellers. Buying from brick-and-mortar local bookshops can be competitive (not having to pay shipment cost) on rare occasions.

None of the pure online booksellers in Australia - Fishpond, Booktopia etc. - is anywhere as competitive as The Book Depository.

Give The Book Depository a try!

For Australian book lovers, give Booko a try as well!

4 則留言:

  1. Book Depository,記住了,多謝。

  2. You too may be surprised by how cheap it can be for us Aussies to buy from The Book Depository. Have fun!

  3. 馬上登記,開齋買了一本Ray Monk的Wittgenstein傳記!

  4. 比任何其他網上書店便宜得多了!