The Book Depository…Discount No More

question-markOne 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)…

amazon's strangleholdHave 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?

 

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33 thoughts on “The Book Depository…Discount No More

  1. Emily says:

    I mostly buy kindle, so of course, that’s Amazon. But for actual books, I get new releases cheaply at Walmart, and for older ones that could probably only be found in an actual book store, I still buy through Amazon. You know, I never bought anything from Amazon until I got kindle, but then started buying other things along with books. I wonder if those drastic increases in recent years are due to the ebook take-over and people doing the same thing I did.

    • kaleigha says:

      It might be…the pricing on e-books still makes me shake my head, especially when they cost more than the print version of the same title.

      • Emily Rose says:

        Really? I thought ebooks were cheaper. I’ve got The King pre ordered for $12.99 on Kindle. Maybe the 16.95 you quoted is higher because you’re in Canada. Now I’m curious. I’ll have to go to Amazon and see how much the regular version is.

  2. Lisa says:

    There’s another place called The Book Outlet, it offers steep discounts but I’m not sure if it’s older stuff or if there’s New releases. I also don’t know about shipping to Canada, I have never used it personally but they send me emails alot. You may want to just check it out real quick. I’ve only ordered a time or two from Depository but they were quick and loved the no shipping. I’m fortunate to have a place called The Half Price Bookstore where I live, so I use them for print books.

    • kaleigha says:

      I actually like the Book Depository, too. The releases are a few months old, but nothing too bad. Prices are really good, too, so it is a great way to pick up those books you passed on at full price.

  3. Sandy S. says:

    I did not realize that Amazon bought The Book Depository. I have always purchased my paper books fromTBD or Costco (I am in Canada as well) and have noticed the gradual increase in pricing. And as you say some of the prices ( like The King) are almost prohibitive as though TBD does not want the sale. The fact that there are no shipping costs was part of the allure of TBD and I have no doubt that it will only be a matter of time before shipping charges will be added. Amazon’s shipping costs pushed me away when I placed an order over the $25 minimum for free shipping and one of the books was a pre order and one was back ordered. When the books were finally shipped, separately and 3 weeks apart I was charged $14.99 shipping on both packages. I complained and was told that preorders were not included in the free shipping and that because I had clicked the order to be shipped ASAP (when the book or books were available) the books were shipped individually and neither one added up to $14.99. The $14.99 shipping costs were for expedited shipping whereas $4.99-$6.99 was the usual shipping cost. I stopped ordering books from amazon.ca at that point until this past Christmas where I had no choice but to order a certain series of hard cover books for a Christmas gift from amazon.com .and the shipping was $19.99 for 3 hardcover books whose value was $89.99. I understood the international shipping and at that point I did not question the shipping.

    In the past 18 months I have purchased a Kobo and an ipad and have been gifted a Kindle therefore most of my book purchases have bee ebooks but there are some series that I still purchase in paper and hard cover (like the BDB ) because I have previously purchased the entire series in paper. This is now going to be an issue with the higher cost and buying from my local book store or Chapters/Coles puts the price at the suggested cover price. Costco does not have the selection and sometimes the books are older but their prices compare to The Book Depository.

    And now I am finding that the ebook prices are so e times higher than the paper book and this I do not understand. There are no costs for paper printing, binding, processing, shipping and yet the ebook is higher priced.

    Anyway my rant is over…and thank you for allowing my rant!

    • kaleigha says:

      I went through the same shipping issues with Chapters. Pre-orders were not covered under free shipping, so I got nailed with a few high shipping fees that turned me off, and I headed to Amazon. Now, though, it looks like Chapters is following Amazon with pricing, shipping, the whole works.

      For me, unfortunately, Costco is in the same place as our closest bookstore – two hours away. I do so miss being able to browse the shelves of a store, but what are you going to do?

      E-books, even though I don’t read them, amaze me. I can’t get over the prices on some of them, at it makes no sense to me at all. I like a rant! Good to vent sometimes with people who actually understand.

  4. Sandy says:

    Costco is approximately 1 hour away for me as well and there are times when I do not shop there for 2-3 months so I miss many books. Which leaves Amazon and ebooks.

    • kaleigha says:

      Yep, the joys of living away from it all. It is really nice to take off for the day and browse, but it isn’t something I can do all of the time, either, and you miss a lot. Plus, I don’t have the patience to wait that long for something I really want to read, so online it is.

  5. Charleen says:

    I definitely feel your pain. I’m afraid I’ve ended up being an Amazon person because I switched to e-books in 2010. The driving reason was my books were taking over my home and had already taken over the attic. With so many books being written as a series and not being able to get into the attic as easily (I’m 64 now), I couldn’t get to all my books to re-read them. I’ve been able to purchase all the back issues of my regular authors and I’m happy to be able to read the old books as I like. I still have a lot of print books but I’m reducing them every few months. E-books are the best choice for me and now I don’t have to take 20 books when I travel!

    • kaleigha says:

      The convenience does help…and so does the not having to clean the cat hair out of each book, like I have to do next week. That is like 6 hours of my life I am never, ever getting back.

  6. Rachel says:

    I’m lucky in that I have a great indie bookstore here that will order it in (and at 20% off) if they don’t have it in stock. I try to buy from them the most. I also look at Ebay and Half.com and will buy from them before I buy from Amazon (but only if I can get more than one item for combined shipping). I also have a local B&N, but their discounts suck (10% off, but you have to pay for it, measly coupons- an extra 10-15% off, and only once (if lucky) a month if that). Unfortunately, it’s safe to say I get at least 50% of the books I buy from Amazon. (I have both a Nook and Kindle as well, but prefer paperbacks so that’s what I largely get).

    • kaleigha says:

      We had an indie bookstore for a while, but they somehow didn’t carry anything of mine in stock, and the few I ordered through them took months. MONTHS. The only books I have ordered through ebay were the first four Fever books in hardcover, and they were a great deal. I find that it is the shipping that kills e-bay for me.

  7. Mary @ BookSwarm says:

    Amazon’s a beast. I used The Book Depository for a while but, like you said, was gently herded back to Amazon, where I have a Prime membership (though I don’t know how much longer I’ll do that, now that they’re jacking up the price). It’s crazy how much of the distribution and sales Amazon controls. And scary.

    • kaleigha says:

      I think, if I remember correctly, they bought out ABEbooks, too, although I never have used them. The monopoly grows.

  8. Lydia says:

    I also am an Amazon person; but I qualify that by saying that I have no other choice. I hate monopoly’s. I’m also a Prime member and Amazon has upped their membership fees. If I didn’t buy so many books I would drop the membership, but unfortunately with the amount I buy per month it’s still worth it for the free shipping. E-book prices are crazy. You’d think they would be cheaper but the difference is really minimal. The only reason I now buy them is that I have no more room, plus some of those books like The King, are huge. My arms and hands have aches from picking them up; it’s easier just to hold the Kindle.

    • kaleigha says:

      Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and go for what suits the wallet, that is for sure. The casual book buyer wouldn’t notice the difference, but we do. I don’t begruge the money I spend on books, for sure, but I am not a fan of the monopoly, either. With the Prime, do you get free shipping no matter the size of the order? I usually always have over the $25 for free, so I never looked into it.

  9. Diane says:

    I buy from the Book Depository but have noticed the change in their prices and am buying less. I also live in Canada and so have started using Amazon.ca or Chapters but there are those shipping costs which means I wait till I have enough to get the free shipping. E-books have also gone up in prices lately so even that is becoming more costly and I can’t afford the prices. Very frustrating!!!

    • kaleigha says:

      The ebook thing makes me shake my head. I am heading back to Chapters where I can, I think. From what I can tell, it is pretty much identical to Amazon in pricing, so I will just have to see if there is any hidden fees along the way, or how the shipping goes.

  10. Roslyn says:

    I live in Australia and books are expensive here too. I buy a mix of paper and e-books and my favourite online store is Fishpond. They have free shipping on every order – I checked and on Fishpond.com – they ship free worldwide. The majority of the time they are the cheapest (not sure how comparable to Canada though) and if you keep an eye on upcoming releases they quite often offer a good discount a month or two before the release date.

  11. Wil Ceirpoe says:

    I’m not sure if you can get it in Canada, but I try to buy the bulk of my reads from BetterWorldBooks. Free shipping, used books, good prices, plus, great mission, one book donated to reader in need for every book purchased and they sell old library books to keep them out of dumpsters.

  12. Olivia says:

    I know how you feel. I wanted to order the Harry Potter illustrated edition on TBD but quickly changed my mind because Amazon sells it for 20 Euros, while TBD sells it for the low low price of 30 Euros – ten more….

    I used to to all my book shopping on TBD, now I sadly have to go back to Amazon 😦

    • kaleigha says:

      Actually, it is a pain for giveaways, too. It is tolerable if it is a paperback, but you really have to bite the bullet for a hardcover. Ugh.

  13. Eric de Vries says:

    Here I found myself delighted in the Bookdepository option before it was sold to Amazon. I refused to buy books from Amazon due to the enormous freight charges when shipping to New Zealand. And now we had a great alternative. Maybe not so great for the local book stores but amazing for the customer living far away from America. My library grew very fast and I am glad I stocked up for even though still freight free the prices have sky rocketed compared with the Bookdepository price from before the sale. I wonder if they are on a gradual road to killing the Bookdepository off because it’s success was based on selling lots very cheap. That policy seems to have been abandoned.

    • kaleigha says:

      You know, I am in the same boat. It was a great alternative, but as soon as Amazon got involved, prices went up. Way, way up. Hardcovers cost so much it is almost funny at this point. It went from being my main resource to me getting maybe a paperback every three months or so.

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