3 places to buy books other than Amazon.co.uk

9 June 2009

http://img197.imageshack.us/img197/6288/1222568892jspkaww758413.jpgIn January of this year, the BBC reported that British consumers placed 10th as most frequent buyers of books online among people in 48 countries surveyed. The same survey revealed that 14.5 million Brits buy books online, which represents 45% of British Internet users.

The report goes on to say that more books are sold on the Internet than any other product. E-books are coming on strong, too: the global market for e-book software is expected to rise to £250 million next year from £95 million in 2008, according to marketing research firm Outsell.

3 Amazon Alternatives

Nobody's going to be toppling Amazon any time soon, but here are some alternative resources for getting books at a good price.

1. AbeBooks – an online marketplace for books with more than 110 million primarily used, rare and out of print books listed for sale by thousands of independent booksellers worldwide.  Though acquired by Amazon in December 2008, AbeBooks continues to function as a separate entity. The site functions as a routing agency, with an online stock list of book dealers and bookshops worldwide, allowing customers to locate the items, compare prices, then transmit their order, shipping info, and credit card details to the selected supplier.

2. Find-Book.co.uk (http://www.find-book.co.uk) – One dooyoo review described this site as user friendly.  The site lists every vendor of books you can think of, from supermarkets like ASDA  and Tesco to specialist book shops like Waterstones and Borders, to internet-only shops like Play.com. The site then arranges a list starting with the vendor currently selling the book at the lowest price.

3. BookButler BookButler is a price comparison site that finds the best deal on the net for the book you're looking for.  It searches 115 online shops, marketplaces and exchanges for good prices and fast availability. Included in BookButler's search are major book retailers such a as Amazon, Swotbooks, Blackwell, and Tesco.com. It gives you the option of getting the prices along with delivery charges so you can pick out the best overall deal.

The price comparison experiment

We conducted a brief experiment to check which of these alternative online bookshops offers the best deal on a few popular books when compared with Amazon.co.uk.


Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – Adult Edition by J.K. Rowling – Paperback (New)
Amazon.co.uk: £2.99 + £2.75 shipping = £5.74
AbeBooks: £2.97 + £2.49 shipping = £5.39 £5.46 (thanks, alice!)
find-Book.co.uk: £5.99 with free delivery
BookButler: £2.97 + £2.49 shipping = £5.46

Winner: Abebooks

I will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi – Paperback (New)
Amazon.co.uk: £6.69 + £2.75 shipping = £9.44
AbeBooks: £5.93 + £2.80 shipping = £8.73
find-Book.co.uk: £8.70 + £2.79 shipping = £11.49
BookButler: £7.75 with free delivery

Winner: BookButler

Great Expectations (Penguin Classics) by Charles Dickens – Paperback (New)
Amazon.co.uk: £5.00 with free delivery
AbeBooks: £0.63 + £2.49 = £3.12
find-book.co.uk: £5.00 with free delivery
BookButler: £4.99 with free delivery

Winner: Abebooks

In Conclusion

Though generally ordering books online is safe, there can be risks like in any online marketplace, so always proceed with caution.  Make sure that you deal only with reputable companies by familiarizing yourself with their site. Google them to see if there has been a pattern of complaints about them.  Always pay by credit card so that you are protected if your order never arrives or you have other problems with your order. If there are other online book merchants you can recommend to fellow readers, please share them in the comments below.


  • alice
    AbeBooks: £2.97 + £2.49 shipping = £5.39 BookButler: £2.97 + £2.49 shipping = £5.46 hmmm.... does not compute.
  • Vince W.
    aye, alice, thanks for point that out! corrected now - late night maths!!
  • Gareth
    Whenever I buy books online I always check out: http://www.bookbrain.co.uk/ For a price comparison first. It's saved me a few bob over the years.
  • Nobby
    Amazon have a great returns policy though - if a book is damaged in the post, they will replace it quickly. Other sellers can kick up a fuss.
  • bitterlurker
    I love bookdepository.co.uk for its free delivery (worldwide). For your 3 picks above: Harry Potter: £8.09 Rich:£7.75 Great Expectations: £3.87 I think it's a contender. I have found fantastic deals here.
  • dancrawley
    Don't forget the book trading sites - Bookmooch is excellent (and free to use)
  • jah
    BookButler, "I will teach you..." Excludes delivery cost != Free Delivery
  • Francis R.
    Great, I can save myself about 50p by spending another hour searching for it cheaper elsewhere. 50p for an hour of my time? Don't think so. Amazon, find book, click order, done. I'm off out, you? Staying in looking for the book for 50p cheaper? Pffft, sad fuck.
  • UnGreat
    Play.com is sometimes worth a check as they often have bargains on the more popular books. Abebooks is great for buying pre-owned books. Anyone know of a good place to buy books from America that has cheap/free delivery?
  • Vince W.
    Some great suggestions above, guys. I like Gareth, Lurker and Dan's mentions of bookdepository, bookmooch and bookbrain. Play worth a reminder too, and judysbook.com does worldwide delivery from US for $2.97 so may be a good start for you Ungreat. Don't know how they compare with other US sites.
  • greebs
    Don't forget about Alibris, both Alibris.com and Alibris.co.uk -- I work for them, so I'm biased, but we provide a great alternative to Amazon and have over 100 million copies of books, from sellers both in the states and the UK!
  • Steven W.
    reddotbooks.co.uk often has the cheapest prices anywhere in the arts and humanities subject areas, they have some fantastic art books plus capped shipping at £3.99 for as many books as you want.
  • Athos
    Your link to BookButler is wrong. As it is now is "http://www4.bookbu L tler.co.uk/"
  • Athos
    And thanks for the suggestions.
  • Rafaela W.
    nice posts i like ite verymuch

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