Flaming Geeks

Book-Buying Online
By J. Andrews

Some people stick to one online bookstore, but they're not making the most economic choice when they do so. I primarily use Barnes and Noble, but am not above using Borders or Amazon if I can get my order cheaper.

I'm a book junkie, but my taste in books, while varied, is almost inevitably difficult to satisfy. Where I'm currently living, there's no non-used bookstore or book superstore where I can find books that interest me. But when I did live within easy reach of such stores, it was still cheaper for me to buy books online. If I didn't have such a bad book habit, I'd never step into a real bookstore again. When will I learn to stay away?!

Barnes and Noble is usually my online bookstore of choice, simply because Dealcatcher and other coupon sites always have several good coupons I can use. It's worth paying the tax at BN that comes with living in New York State, because the coupons I can find offset that cost and then some.

Borders is probably the one I use second most often. I think their selection is a little better. Their general price is better, for me, because I don't have to pay tax. The main benefit to using Borders is that I can order through my Igain account and get 5% of my order back in a rebate.

Amazon I've used rarely. Just today, though, I used it to buy 3 books. Why? Because I had a coupon. It was a very good coupon (they called it a gift certificate), 10$ off of a 20$ order. This is a better deal than most Barnes and Noble coupons, plus I didn't have to pay tax. I loved this site for it's non-secure ordering option (secure often crashes my browser), but then disliked it when I had to hunt up my credit card number. I have to say I also like it's little suggestions feature, where it suggests some books you might like based on your previous orders. Except that all it currently suggests for me is a bunch of English-language manga, because that's all I'd ordered from them.

Shopping around at online bookstores for the best deal usually does not involve checking the individual price of books. These three major stores vary very little in their prices. I do recommend that if you're buying a hardcover bestseller, you find which site has it for 50% off first. (They probably all will have it that price eventually.) The way to get the best deal each time you order, is to check the coupon sites for a good coupon, and remember any rebate programs you may be in at various sites. And of course, if you're an affiliate of any of these stores, you have to keep in mind that if you order from your own site, you'll eventually get a percentage back.

I've never had any serious problems with any of these stores. They all do seem to suffer from the 'not in stock' syndrome. Their page may list a book in stock, and you'll find out that's not the case. Maybe that's just my experience because I tend to order weird stuff. Now, if any of these bookstores would start selling Japanese manga, I'd instantly become their miko.

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This page written July 23, 2000 by J. Andrews
This site copyright 2000 by J. Andrews, K. Butler,
and J.Dunbar. Email is flaminggeeks@yahoo.com.