March 9, 2011

Beyond the Shelf - Online book shopping

Everyone who's guilty of shopping for books online, please raise your hand!
Ah … yes … I knew I wouldn't be the only one …

I realize a lot of us book addicts love to browse through bookstores, but then there is the convenience factor when it comes to buying books online. These days I rarely spend time in bookshops, but some years ago I did pretty much all my shopping there. The fact that I often had to order books and couldn't just buy them right away, plus the discovery of Amazon, soon made me convert to online bookshopping. No more running around. Just opening the door when the mailman rang once. Yes, once. When I expect a book delivery, I'm at the door real fast.

My preferred online shop for books is still Amazon, more precisely, the German and UK branches of the company as I live in Europe. Oddly enough it often saves me money to order directly from the UK even though English books are also available on the German site (in the latter case, delivery for books is free). Of course there are lots of other online bookshops around, national and international, but generally I stick to good old Amazon (not only when it comes to books, for that matter).

The Book Depository
Until maybe half a year ago I didn't even know about The Book Depository, but once I started reading several book blogs I inevitably came across this site. So far I haven't ordered from there yet. Frugality vows be damned. But seriously, I have taken a good look around and can only suggest to compare prices with Amazon. Sometimes they are the same, at other times you can save a buck or two. Of course I cannot comment on their overall service as I never once ordered there, but judging from what I read on other blogs, the site seems definitely recommendable.

Actually I didn't go the direct way when it comes to AwesomeBooks. Last year I decided to reduce the amount of money I usually threw on new books by buying used ones, I ended up on Ebay where this site also has a shop. Prices are great and delivery times were fast too. Before you get overly excited check the delivery charges for your country. As long as you live in a place where they don't charge you an arm and a leg for delivery this site is fantastic, even delivery costs for Europe are low, but not every European country falls into the “European country” category, and why countries like Malta or San Marino are on the list, while Austria isn't, is beyond me. In my case it was worth to pay those inflated delivery charges, as I still paid way less than I would have for the books in new condition. But now, quite frankly, I'm waiting for Austria to become European.
Also keep a general problem with used bookstores in mind. You have no idea in what condition the books will be. They often claim that books are in good condition, but obviously “good condition” isn't the same to everyone. While most of the ones I bought were ok, I received one that was in a condition that made me want to read it with gloves, and another had half a page ripped out (got a refund, mind you). So beware!

While there are lots of online shops, like the one mentioned above, on Ebay you can also find tons of bargains from private sellers. After discovering the wonderful world of used-book-buying I bid and bought enough books to last me a lifetime. Alright, maybe not a lifetime, because I do read a lot, but close enough. But as books are heavy, always keep an eye on those delivery costs, unless you live close enough to collect books in person. With delivery charges a book might no be a sweet deal after all.

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