Why It is Cheaper to Buy Books Online

And Here’s Why…

I recently picked up the habit of purchasing books online and the prices I got are usually cheaper than the local big bookstores. Most if not all of you reading this will probably think I will be suggesting Amazon for your book purchases. Not quite the case. No doubt Amazon as we know have a huge collection of books, but  if you are buying a single book, with the price of the book + shipping charges it just isn’t worth it.

Nope, not eBay either. I’m talking about Book Depository. When I first heard about it from a friend, my initial thought was probably the same as yours now: “Cheaper than Amazon? But do they have as many books?”. Yes and no for both questions and let me explain why:

When to use Book Depository (www.bookdepository.com)
If you are looking to purchase books yourself, then Book Depository is going to be the cheapest. Simply because they offer free shipping worldwide and that includes Singapore. Let me do a comparison on a book that I bought recently “Lightroom 2″ by Scott Kelby:

  • Amazon – $29.69(book) + $9.98(shipping) = US$39.67 x 1.45(currency rate) = S$57.52
  • Book Depository – $36.10(book) + Free Shipping = US$36.10 x 1.45 = S$52.34
  • Kinokuniya @ Takashimaya – S$68

*Note that I did not put up Borders prices as they are usually pricier than Kino’s ones (correct me if I’m wrong)

Let’s try buying 2 random books now – “The World is Flat” & “The Time’s Traveler’s Wife”:

  • Amazon – $10.88 + $8.00 + $14.97(shipping) = US$33.85 x 1.45 = S$49.08
  • Book Depository – $13.08 + $11.06 + Free Shipping = US$24.14 x 1.45 = S$35.00

Once again, Book Depository is cheaper after shipping charges. Also important to note, Book Depository doesn’t require you to sign up an account with them when you buy books from them, that is if you are worried about giving out your credit card number or disclosing your private data. Book Depository isn’t all perfect either, the range of books they have is a tad short of Amazon’s, but though that’s the case, I haven’t encounter a book that I can’t find on Book Depository yet.

When to use Amazon (www.amazon.com)
Now, the only time you should buy from Amazon is when some book authors give exclusive prices to Amazon. Across the history of my purchases on these 2 sites, I have come across a couple of books on Amazon that is ridiculously cheaper than Book Depository prices. Also a couple things you should watch out for,  new book releases and hardcovers on Book depository seem to be a whole lot more expensive.

One more option to buy from Amazon is when you have friends buying books together, for example when you purchase 3 or more books splitting up the shipping charges with friends, you can get away with cheaper totals compared to Book Depository. Depending on the books you buy.

Downside of Amazon & Book Depository
Finally do consider these when you are purchasing books online:

  • You run the risk of damaged books.
  • Long delivery times especially from Amazon, sometimes it takes up to a month. Book Depository is faster, usually within a week to two.
  • USD currency rates, I find that bank rates are sometimes lousier than Paypal ones. Book Depository offers direct credit card or Paypal, Amazon only direct credit card.
  • Cash rebates on your credit cards, the more rebates the more savings so use those.
  • Borders Singapore sometimes do offer really attractive coupons like 30% discount or 3 books for price of 2.

Ultimately, what I’m trying to put across here is this: Decide on the books you wish to purchase, compare prices on both sites before buying. And if you can’t wait to read the book or afford to wait for a couple weeks to a month, purchase it conveniently at Borders or Kinokuniya. Both mega bookstores have really friendly staff and will assist you to look for your books if you approach them.

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