One of my long winded, probably pointless rants ahead. Be warned.
Way back in probably 2010, I discovered the online book retailer The Book Depository. Not an earth-shattering event for most people, but as one who buys books on a very regular basis, finding a site where there was not only a significant discount but also free shipping was a cause for celebration, especially since I live in Canada. At my usual 7-8 books a week (between my books and those I also buy for my father), the savings was great. In the good old days, the savings was easily $20-25 a week.
Those days are gone.
In 2011, it was announced that Amazon had bought out The Book Depository. I wasn’t happy, but I figured that any changes would be slow in coming. And for the most part, I was right. Pricing stayed low, shipping was fast (and free), and everything seemed to chug along as usual. It was probably around the beginning of 2013 that I started to notice a slow but steady price increase – things went from a standard 25% off, to maybe 20%, to now where it is maybe 10% off, if we are lucky.
For example, take Shelly Laurenston‘s Bite Me. Amazon.ca lists it for $12.24…and the “bargain” Book Depository price is $18.12. Nearly 1/3 more. J.R. Ward‘s The King? Amazon.ca is $16.47. The Book Depository? $27.77…over $10 more. For the once-in-a-while book buyer, it is doable. As a steady book buyer? That hurts. Barnes and Noble does ship to Canada, but with a $3.99 per order and a $2.49 per item charge, it just doesn’t make sense for me, personally. Amazon it is.
This is an older graphic, I know, but I thought it was interesting. It shows the stranglehold Amazon has over not just online book buying, but online shopping in general (click for larger scale)…
Have you found yourself gently herded back to Amazon? Mine was a gradual process, but I can honestly say that I went from buying only a couple of books from Amazon in 2010 to 95% of my purchases being through them today. I do still manage to get my paperbacks from The Book Depository, not because the discount is that great but because the base price seems to be set on the American standard rather than the Canadian, which is quite a bit higher.
For me, the good news is that I had totally forgot about Chapters. I am not sure if they exist outside of Canada, but they have become a viable option for my book buying needs. I had bought from them years ago, before the Book Depository, and when I dusted off their website I discovered that they price themselves the same as Amazon. I have decided to not buy from Amazon wherever possible. Am I boycotting? No. I just would like to have a viable alternative. Now I just have to hope Amazon doesn’t notice and buy them, too.
Where do you buy the bulk of your books? Or at least those of you who still are on the dead tree bandwagon, like me. Have you found another way to get your fix, or does Amazon meet all of your needs?