Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Best Places to Buy Books

I must be honest – the title might be misleading since what you are going to read is based on my experience of buying books. However, I hope this article could be of great help for you guys seeking to expand your knowledge (or anything else) through magical sets of paper sheets.

Before I decide whether or not to buy a book, I always research it on Amazon, which I believe all of you are familiar with, with the CEO, Jeff Bezos, recently announced as the richest man on the planet – albeit for a short while. Reading the book description is a must and perusing editorial and customer reviews gives me good insights into what the book is like. If a book has a 4 or 5-star rating, you could be pretty sure that it is worth reading. What's more, the website has a feature named "Look inside", which gives you a privilege to peek into some books – such as this one – allowing for further consideration. Apparently, Amazon possesses the largest book collection of all and, therefore, can be a great reference for book information. I used the service once (through my friend's account though) and was satisfied with the service with my book arriving in good condition as well as in a timely fashion. The prices are more or less reasonable and there are other sellers that sell books through Amazon as well (unfortunately many of those books aren't delivered to Indonesia for some reason).

The second bookstore you might want to consider is AbeBooks. Unlike Amazon, AbeBooks only acts as a marketplace, which means the sellers are all independent bookstores. What I like about this website is it is very convenient to browse through the items, with only 1 click needed to show a pop-up window displaying the shipping fee for your country. Some sellers offer reductions in shipping fees if you buy more than one book from them, so don't miss great chances to save more. My second last purchase was a very good deal although there was an unexpected delay in delivery, which was later handled professionally by the seller. AbeBooks is currently one of my favorites and I will definitely return to it again to place more orders.

There are two other companies that are also relatively popular in the book-selling industry: Better World Books (BWB) and Book Depository. Like that of Amazon, I used the services of these companies only once and all in all I didn't have much of a problem – I waited quite long for the BWB book to arrive (over two months), though. BWB is similar to Amazon in that they sell their own books as well as let other sellers to take part in their business. It also seems that BWB is a giving-back-to-the-community company (just visit the site and you'll know what I mean). On the other hand, Book Depository only provides NEW books and delivers them worldwide with NO SHIPPING FEE. Nevertheless, it doesn't mean you will always get books at the lowest prices possible as what matters is the total price. Comparing prices is the name of the game.

Tips: Make sure you buy from reputable sellers and read the information about the book carefully (Is the book new? If it's not, how good is the condition? Very good? Good? Fair? Acceptable? Is the spine broken? Is there any wear on the cover or inside the book? Are there any markings, writings, or highlightings?). You would want the item to meet your expectations, wouldn't you? To compare book prices, I recommend BookFinder.

Now, as I'm Indonesian, it seems to be a responsibility for me to share my experiences of dealing with Indonesian bookstores (Indonesians, get close!). Please note that all of the above (online) bookstores require a credit card as their payment option. So if you don't have a credit card, what can you do to satisfy your reading appetite? Periplus is the first bookstore that you must check out. I have been a customer for years and am overall very satisfied with it - in fact, most of my books came from this store. While Vietnam has Fahasa and the Philippines has Fully Booked, I'd say Periplus, with a vast collection of books, relatively low prices, and excellent service, is the best Indonesian bookstore. By making purchases you can collect points, which can later be redeemed for more books. In addition, there are a slew of tempting promotions (discounts, cashback, etc.) which probably happen year-round. One of the most interesting benefits of being a member is a 15% discount on all books on your birthday. Books & Beyond and OpenTrolley are two contenders, yet, in terms of prices, Periplus is unsurpassed. Nevertheless, speaking of local books, I think Gramedia is still the most leading with most likely the biggest number of stores around the country.

It is probably advantageous for you to buy from foreign book distributors in your country (Indonesia, in this case), as the books seem to be less expensive. If you're looking for English textbooks, you might want to try Mentari Bookstore (online: Mentaripedia and PT Chandranaya Laksana. The former is the exclusive distributor for Cambridge University Press as well as a partner and distributor for Oxford University Press, whereas the latter is an authorized distributor for Pearson, of which Longman is a part of. I have ordered books from both and their competitive prices really made my day. I just found a company that is the exclusive distributor for McGraw-Hill and Cambridge University Press (I know it's weird): Global Books Indonesia. I haven't really explored the site and never purchased anything from it so I can't give any further comments – hopefully it delivers high quality service and offers good prices as well.

What are your thoughts on these? Do you think there are even better places to purchase books? Share your ideas in the comment section below!


  1. Replies
    1. Never heard of it, Paul. Do you have any experience with it? :)

    2. Oooh ... it's kind of an illegal site, so you'd better not check it. haha.
      It is safe to click over, though.