An Alternative to Amazon?

Given that a lot of us are thoroughly fed up with Amazon (and even if you agree with their plans for ebook pricing you have to admit that their behavior over the last few days has been petulant and childish), what do we do about selling books online? In time-honored Internet fashion I asked my readers for suggestions. The one that sounded most promising, as it provided worldwide coverage and an excellent selection of books, was The Book Depository.

Why do I like these people? To start with take a look at the responses to this post. They clearly have a lot of happy customers out there. Also one of the responses came from a chap called Kieron Smith who just happens to be the Managing Director (that’s British for CEO) of the company. That shows that they are on the ball. Having signed up for their affiliate program I was very impressed with the range of options available. It is going to take me a while to digest it all.

Of course I had reservations. One of those was how they would deal with small presses. Bearing in mind what people like Gavin Grant and Ben Jeapes have been saying about Amazon over the past few days, I didn’t want to get yelled at by publishers. As far as I can make out, TBD work mainly through major distributors such as IPG, Ingram and Baker & Taylor. As you’ll see from the comments to that previous post, Steven H Silver has been making inquiries about getting ISFiC books stocked and is happy so far. This bodes well.

I have also been looking around the TBD web site. They have an impressive list of awards, and staff with a solid background in the book trade. And personally I’m extremely happy to have found a UK company that really knows how to do a web site. Our train companies could learn something from these guys.

Of course there may be problems down the road, but from my first day’s contact with these folks I have been impressed enough with these folks to give them a try. It will take a while to convert everything over, if only because their links use the full 13-character ISBN and I’ve been using the 10-character one ever since Emerald City days, so I have a lot of data entry to do. However, if you want to take a look at their store you can do so though this link (UK and hopefully European users should see a link from there through to the UK site.) And if you want to check out their affiliate scheme you can do so here (noting that I’ll get a referral commission if you use that link).

Update: I see that Matt Cheney and Ken Neth are also recommending TBD.

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16 Responses to An Alternative to Amazon?

  1. Alex says:

    As a reader and book buyer I’ve been using Depository for a while now. Often they beat Amazon on price and frequently in terms of delivery time too. No minimum buy for p&p as well – it’s included in the price! The free bookmarks come in very handy too. Overall I rate them highly – the only advantages Amazon has over Depositary are that occasionally Amazon’s selection is wider, they stock other items than just books, and Amazon Marketplace’s new & used section which I always find handy for tracking down out-of-print items and older hardbacks.

  2. Twilight says:

    Any idea about how the US service is so far? I’ve seen a few comments, but curious what you might have sussed out so far.

    • Cheryl says:

      If Matt and Ken are recommending them I suspect that US delivery will be pretty good. Obviously there’s only one way to find out though.

  3. I’ve used them for UK books. Their service to the US east coast is reasonably quick. Books are packaged well. No real complaints.

    Heck, they even stock Waldrop!

  4. Kendall says:

    Thanks for your series of posts about this, Cheryl! I’ve been mighty ticked off with Amazon.com and would like a good alternative. I’ve heard good things about The Book Depository, but thought they were UK-only (or were expensive for shipping to the US). Wow, free shipping worldwide on all orders?! Holy crap!

    I’m confused about whether the books actually come from the UK or from the US. I suspect perhaps both; Spellwright is shown with both UK and US covers, for example. (I know, free shipping…why care…eh, a touch of eco-curiosity.)

    Anyway–I’ll experiment with them by replacing my home-grown local search page for Amazon.com with your affiliate-enabled Book Depository link and reminding myself to not type in the dreaded letters “www.amazon.com”….

  5. G says:

    I will buy hard copy books from BD (and have- in Germany delivery from Amazon UK is not free). But I have no interest in e-books in PDF format, I might as well just download from Guttenberg in .mobi.

  6. DrJon says:

    I did a list post about this a while ago: Amazon Alternatives.

  7. I’ve been recommending both The Book Depository (free shipping worldwide) and also Play.com (which has free shipping in Europe) ever since amazon deranked all my gay titles.

  8. neth says:

    Well, the Book Depository’s program isn’t as user friendly as Amazon’s, but it isn’t too bad either. I’ve noticed that since I signed up yesterday and posted about several people have bought books – wish it was easier to figure which one’s were purchased though.

    I’ve also been using Indiebound for a while, but it’s utterly opaque. I only stick to it because I like the idea behind Indiebound.

    I signed up for Powell’s as well, we’ll see how that works out. But the common theme is that none are as user friendly as Amazon.

    I looked into B&N, but it seemed to have too many steps to even sign up. I didn’t like that I had to go through a third-party to do it.

  9. Dave says:

    Hi Cheryl, I just thought I’d mention on the topic of 10-digit ISBN to 13-digit ISBN conversion and linking to the Book Depository, you can use the search page over there to avoid having to look them all up and convert them over. You can just link straight to the 10-digit ISBN.

    I picked the 10-digit ISBN from the top of your current reading list as an example:

    http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/search?searchTerm=1597801577

  10. Kendall says:

    Is there a good DVD replacement for Amazon.com, with decent below-list prices and cheap-or-free shipping? One-stop shopping for books and DVDs is something I’ll miss from Amazon.com.

    (Borders coupons will tide me over for now. πŸ˜‰

  11. Tero says:

    I’ve used Play.com for DVDs a lot. Not everything is there, but quite a lot. Good prices, free shipping. And they have quite a few books as well.

    • Kendall says:

      Thanks, Tero. It looks like Play.com is in the U.K. and, more importantly for me, the USA isn’t in their ‘export country’ list.

      I should’ve been more specific, sorry–I’m looking for a company that ships to the USA. I think (given DVD region garbage) I probably need a Region-1-based country…although since the Book Depository appears to ship US and UK versions of books, perhaps there’s a non-US company that ships Region 1 DVDs to the US…?

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