In this post I want to talk about my experience as a book buyer at Amazon and Bookoutlet.
I’ve ordered several times from both online store, so I’ve got some experience with them. Obviously, these are my personal opinions, so please keep that in mind.
As you might know, Bookoutlet is an online book store that sales very cheap books. For examples hard copies are between $5 to $7, which is a great price. Paperbacks are even cheaper. If the books have some minor damages to them, like a scratch on the cover, their prices are even lower. Therefore, many people buy from their site.
The store has two websites, one for Canada with prices in Canadian Dollars and one for USA with prices in American Dollars. However, the store is located in Ontario, Canada – exactly where I live (not the same city, but the same province).
I’ve noticed that the prices are a little bit higher on the Canadian Bookoutlet. For example, I’ll Give You the Sun by Nelson (hard cover) is $5.99 USD, but $7.79 CAD. It’s still a good price, and it’s normal to be a difference in price. I think the prices in Canada might go up since the Dollar went up as well. I am not sure if the original prices are made for Canada, and then converted for United States, or the other way around. I will take a wild guess, and say that the store is targeted at USA, and not Canada. On the other hand, on Amazon US the same book costs (at this moment) $10.58 USD with a price listing of $17.99USD, and on Amazon Ca it costs $ 14.71 CND, with a price listing of $19.99 CND. Either way, Bookoutlet has cheaper prices for books.
Now, to the actual experience. I’ll make a list of Pros and Cons for each store, with additional comments.
- Cheap prices: More often than not, you’ll pay half of the original price. For example, for 10 books I payed $41.24 plus $9.99 for shipping (and $2.44 taxes). In other words, $51.24 for 10 books, and some of them are hard covers. A very good deal.
- Coupon: You’ll get a $5 coupon along with your order. You can use it to a new order; maybe you can buy a couple of books for a total of $5, and pay only the shipping.
- Sales: They have a lot of sales almost every month.
- Nice quality: Although the books are cheaper, most of them look and feel as good as new. They have a special category for dent or scratched books, so you’ll know beforehand if the book will have some tiny imperfections.
- Shipping time: As I’ve mentioned above, they are located in Ontario, Canada. Normally, I get a package in 2-3 days max with regular shipping. The BookOutlet package took around 10 days to get to me. I am not sure if it’s the post or the store. Since with other packages I didn’t have this problem, I’m guessing it’s not the shipping time that takes so long, rather the processing time. You also don’t have the option of choosing the type of shipping: regular, express or priority. You only get one.
- Variety: There is a limited book variety. Sometimes, there is a second book in a series, but not the first. Actually, I’ve noticed that many series are missing the first book. They either get them more rarely and they sell fast, or they don’t stock them at all. Also, you might want to get a book and to not be in stock at all. And I’m not referring only to new releases. Don’t get me wrong, they do have many books, but unlike regular bookstores, the variety is limited.
- Limited stock: Since some books have minor imperfections, the stock is not that big. Also, popular books disappear very fast, and it might take a while for them to be restocked.
- Coupon: How come it is also a con? I placed two separate orders, but they were quite close to each other, time-wise. I think the second order was placed the next day. I had my reasons for placing two, and I treated them as two separate order. They also came in two different boxes, with two different invoices. However, I got only one coupon, instead of two. I know it might be silly to complain about free coupons, since they are not obligated to give them. The thing is, they give a coupon for every order. If I would’ve place the second order after I’ve got the first one, I would’ve get a coupon for the second one as well. That’s the main reason why I was a little bit annoyed. On paper it they were two separate orders, but in reality they treated it as one. It’s not a major thing, or a reason to not buy from them. Not at all. Just keep this in mind. If you want a coupon for each order, don’t place them one after the other.
- Variety: A great variety of books. Plus, they also have eBooks. I think you can find most books on their websites.
- Pre-orders: You get the option to pre-order a new release, and to be delivered to you right away. Most of the time when I pre-ordered physical books, I’ve got them before the release date.
- New Releases: It’s connected with the above point. If you’ve waited for a book for a long time, you can get it right away. You don’t need to wait for it to become popular enough to have a lot of copies.
- Stock: Unless their self published, most books are in stock and when the stock runs out, they fixed the problem right away. I’ve never had the “out of stock” problem with Amazon, especially when it comes to fairly popular books.
- Reviews: Before you buy I book, you can read the reviews and get a better idea of the novel. Bookoutlet doesn’t have this option.
- Shipping: You have more options when it comes to shipping. However, even the regular one arrives pretty fast. Processing time is also very fast. I usually get a book in 1-2 days. Also, the prices are not that different than the Bookoutlet’s ones.
- Amazon Prime: If you have Amazon Prime, the shipping is free and you get a discount to most items. If I remember correctly, it’s $90/year. It is useful especially if you buy from them all the time.
- Prices: Most physical books are more expensive than the ones on Bookoutlet.
- No coupons.
- Sales: Black Friday and Boxing day don’t count. They have less sales than Bookoutlet.
I didn’t comment on the customer service because I didn’t use it. I never had to, and I’m happy about this.
Overall, it is hard to say which one should be the main bookstore. Both of them have great pros. If you want cheap books, you go to Bookoutlet. If you want a new release, or to pre-order, you go to Amazon. If you want fast service and shipping, Amazon is the place. If you don’t mind waiting, Bookoutlet is also great.
Personally, I think I’m going to continue to use both sites. Amazon for Kindle, obviously, but also for new releases and books that I love and want them to be in perfect condition.
I’m also going to keep an eye on Bookoutlet and for their new arrivals, and if a book sparks my interest, I will buy it. However, I will control myself and buy maximum 3-4 books per order. It is very tempting to buy more than you can afford or want to, since the prices are so low.
BookDepository is also a great place, especially since they offer free shipping worldwide. Their prices are similar to the ones on Amazon. I didn’t include it here because I’ve only ordered once or twice from them, and it was a while ago.
Where do you like to buy books from?
Let me know in the comments below.