Recently a friend recommended an alternative to Amazon when she learnt i was a frequent purchaser of books online. She has been using Book Depository (a UK based site) which does not charge delivery fees as long as they ship to your country (which i reckon are most countries anyway). Because i had to purchase more books (again!), i made a comparison. I like Amazon because of its fantastic customer service. Once, a shipment arrived late, and they sent a whole new shipment on express delivery. When the original delivery finally arrived (later than the express one, and therefore most likely a fault of the postal delivery and not Amazon per se), Amazon did not require me to send it back, but rather recommended i pass the books on to libraries or any charitable organizations that needed books. I thought that was quite magnanimous, especially coming from a multi-national company.
The advantages of Book Depository are that delivery is free and the prices of the items are reflected in your currency, so you are spared the hassle of converting from US dollars (in the case of Amazon) to the currency that you are using; and you don’t have to always keep reminding yourself that there is still a delivery charge that may blow your budget. It can be quite disappointing when you have to remove a beloved book or two at checkout just so the total charge including the delivery fee, will not blow your budget out of the water.
The advantages of Amazon are its fabulous customer service and definitely its wider range of books. If you can’t find the book you want anywhere; Amazon probably stocks it. If Amazon does not have it, chances are the book is out of print or you have to go directly to the publisher of that specialized book you are after to get it.
Bottomline – i am glad i am the consumer. I get to enjoy the advantages of both worlds. 🙂