The Best Alternatives to Amazon for Books
There’s only one thing better than coming home to a parcel waiting for you: knowing that your next favorite book is inside.
Getting books from Amazon is convenient, especially if you have Prime. However, it’s by no means the only option. There are countless online bookstores that have a great selection and regular deals that will keep you hooked. Here are some of the best Amazon alternatives for bookworms.
Alternatives to Amazon for Books in the U.S.
You don’t have to look hard to find a myriad of online bookstores, but where should you start? Here are some of the best alternatives to Amazon in the U.S.
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble has hundreds of stores in all 50 states of the U.S., but their charming physical bookshops aren’t the only way to buy from them. Barnes & Noble prides itself on being the largest online bookstore, with more than a million titles ready to be shipped immediately.
Barnes & Noble offers free shipping on eligible orders over $40. You can also order online and pick up your book in store if there’s a physical Barnes & Noble near you. If you’re regularly expanding your home library, you can consider a membership that will grant you free 3-day express shipping on all your orders. B&N Membership will allow you to save on hardcovers while shopping in-store, as well.
Independent bookstores can suffer greatly when e-commerce giants like Amazon dominate the book scene. Bookshop.org was created with two goals in mind: to help local bookstores that experienced difficulties when in-store shopping plummeted and to give a sound alternative to socially-conscious buyers. You can choose a particular store to support or simply browse the site for the book you want.
Bookshop.org has many special offers, and you can usually find discounts on popular titles. While there is no free shipping option at the time of writing, the shipping rates are reasonable. You can choose from several shipping options depending on the urgency of your order.
BetterWorldBooks may not have the lowest prices, but it’s more than justified. This site lives up to its name: by purchasing from BetterWorldBooks you will be contributing to funds aimed at literacy and education around the world. For every book purchased, one is donated. The site has donated over 32 million books so far, and the number continues to climb.
BetterWorldBooks offers free shipping on orders above $15. However, their standard shipping is very affordable, so don’t feel obliged to overspend. This site sells both new and used books. Keep an eye on the labels that indicate the condition of the book. You’ll see tags like “Used Good” or “Used Very Good Library” so you can make informed shopping decisions.
There are plenty of deals on BetterWorldBooks, including quantity-based deals, so it’s worth checking their bargain bin from time to time.
Those looking for real bargains might want to check out ThriftBooks, the largest online independent used book retailer. You might find items by ThriftBooks on Amazon, as they sell on a variety of e-commerce sites. However, ThriftBooks is an independent online store.
Despite the name, this site sells new books, as well. You’ll be able to choose whether you prefer a second-hand or a new copy on the product page of each item. You can browse over 13 million titles on this website.
ThriftBooks also offers free shipping within the U.S. on orders over $15. Orders under $15 will ship for a small fee.
Alternatives to Amazon for Books in the U.K.
Amazon owns the largest market share of the U.K. book industry. While it’s convenient to order your next read from this huge e-commerce site, this can hurt independent bookstores in the long term. If you’re looking for Amazon alternatives to help keep the bookstore scene varied and colorful, here are a few solid options.
If you don’t mind pre-loved books, you’ll find fantastic deals at the largest second-hand book retailer in the U.K. Wob — formerly called World of Books — has grown massively since it was founded in 2005. You can browse more than 7 million books on this website, from popular to obscure titles. You’ll find famous releases that are taking over TikTok and Instagram for under £5 — what a deal!
Wob is great for another reason: economy delivery is free with no minimum order value, and your new-old book will be on your shelf within 2-5 working days. The site also offers new copies with the help of third-party suppliers — these may take slightly longer to arrive at your address.
When browsing second-hand books on Wob, you’ll find information about the state of each copy so you can be sure the price isn’t too good to be true. Books will be labeled “new,” “like new,” “very good,” etc.
Book Depository is a U.K.-based retailer founded in 2004. It’s a go-to for people all over the world, not just in the U.K. For good reasons: this site delivers books free of charge. The vision of this store was simple: making books available to everyone. Add to this regular discounts and access to the newest titles, and it becomes clear why Book Depository is so popular.
It must be noted that while Book Depository was started separately, it was acquired by Amazon in 2011. So, this may not be the store for you if you’re on a boycotting mission. According to the founder, nevertheless, Book Depository operates independently with a dedicated team, continuing the company’s original goal.
The order you place on Book Depository will typically arrive within 3-6 business days to your U.K. home.
Bookshop.org was created to help physical bookstores that find it harder and harder to stay open when online shopping is becoming the norm. The site also has a U.K. version, so citizens of this country can also support their favorite shop with their online purchases. In addition, Bookshop.org is committed to the environment and strives to provide carbon-neutral packaging, so it’s an excellent choice for eco-conscious individuals. If this sounds too good to be true, don’t worry. Bookshop.org has a 4.9 rating on Trustpilot, so you can confidently order from them.
You will find a nice selection of books on this site, even if the browsing experience is a bit odd. You won’t see the price of an item until you open its product page, where you’ll see the different formats the book is available in. The prices are, nevertheless, competitive. You can also get free shipping on orders over £40.
Similar to BetterWorldBooks, AwesomeBooks is dedicated to a greater cause. This used bookstore was founded to give a second life to books that would have otherwise been thrown away. AwesomeBooks also donates books to schools worldwide for every purchase they receive. In addition to used books, the site offers new copies as well, making it a great option whatever your preference is.
Standard shipping is entirely free within the U.K., regardless of your order value. If you want to get started with your new book as soon as possible, you can opt for express delivery for a reasonable fee to get your order the next working day.
Alternatives to Amazon for Books in Canada
U.S. stores may look accessible if you’re from Canada, but shopping from across the border can result in longer shipping times. Fortunately, there are several great online store options to buy books from that are not Amazon. Here is a couple.
Indigo is the biggest bookstore in Canada and can also be visited online. The shop sells various things, from toys to beauty and wellness products to even clothes and accessories, so it’s easy for hours to fly by when you’re browsing their site.
Indigo has a massive selection of books for all ages. If you’re not sure what you want to read, you can browse categories like the best books of 2022 so far or the hottest preorders. Indigo has a TikTok book club with a highlighted title and exciting monthly events. There are also many irresistible deals, with some books even 50% off.
To leverage free shipping on eligible items within Canada, you’ll need to spend at least $35 on Indigo. Your order will typically arrive within 1-9 business days.
If you’re looking for bargain books, Book Outlet may be the site for you. They pride themselves on “ridiculously low prices,” which isn’t far from the truth. Bargain books on Book Outlet are excess inventory still in good condition. They are unsold copies that may have been returned from stores. Therefore, some books might show a bit of wear.
Book Outlet is a U.S.-based store and has a Canadian warehouse. Free shipping is available on orders over $35.
Book Depository, owned by Amazon since 2011, is a great place to get your books wherever you are in the world. With their vision of making “all books available to all,” their selection is constantly expanding. New titles are available on their site the moment they are released.
The best thing about Book Depository is that their shipping is always free, regardless of your order value. That said, depending on your local postal service, it can take some time for your order to get to you. Fortunately, if you have any issues, you’ll be happy to learn that Book Depository has reliable customer service.
Kobo is one of the biggest competitors of Amazon’s Kindle e-reader line. Being a Canadian company, many Canadians prefer Kobo’s ecosystem. While Kindle users can purchase e-books from Amazon, Kobo users have their dedicated Kobo store.
Prices vary widely, but the store has many cheap (and even free) titles. Daily e-book deals often give you access to a popular book for a fraction of its original price. You can even filter books by language if you want to practice your French with an e-book!
Turn the Page on Amazon
Visiting a physical bookstore is certainly thrilling, but even if you prefer the convenience of online shopping, you don’t have to resort to Amazon. Fill your shelves with a few fresh titles while supporting independent bookstores or even charities. Whether you’re in the U.S., U.K., or Canada, you can find plenty of online bookstores that offer great prices and free shipping; you just have to browse around — but let’s face it, that’s part of the fun.
Where do you prefer to buy books online? Do you have any experience with the bookstores mentioned above? Let us know in the comments section below.