10 Pros & Cons of Buying Books Online

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I’m a true online shopper.

I buy a lot of items online, be it clothes, makeups, phone case, bags, shoes (yes even shoes), and obviously BOOKS ♥ have I ever been conned? Yes I have. I lost over Rp 150k for a laptop case I never received and received a few items that didn’t look at all like the advertisement pictures. But other than that, my online shopping experience has been pretty great! 😀

I know a lot of you are already super familiar with buying books online, but I also know some friends and bloggers who are still wary of online shopping, especially when the items are being shipped from abroad. But I tell you, especially my fellow Indonesians, you are missing a lot on not willing to try buying books online, because the stock in our country is a bit LOL. I personally wouldn’t have had as many books as I do if not for online shopping 🙂

So here are some pros, cons, and tips for buying books online based on my own experience ♥

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1) They have more stocks. 

It is common knowledge that online stores always have more stocks than their offline counterparts. Online stores aren’t limited by physical space, so they can store the infinite amount of books you could choose from. Also, most online book stores mention the amount of stocks for each book, so you know whether the book you want to buy are in low stocks or not. Therefore you know whether to buy the books immediately or not.

No more going to the bookstore only to discover the book you want to buy is out of stock 😛 I mean… I guess you could call local bookstore to find out if they have certain books, but who does that? Not me apparently.

2) It’s cheaper!

Books from online stores are always cheaper because online stores don’t need to pay rent and every other things offline stores need. And it’s not just slightly cheaper, but wayyyy cheaper. P.S. I Still Love You is 200k at my nearest bookstore. It is 150k at our local online store and it’s 97k at Book Depository. This reason alone should have made online shopping a lot more tempting because we all know collecting books isn’t a cheap hobby 😛

They also have more discounts and they e-mail you when prices drop or there’s a big sale! ♦ There’s shipping cost, but it’s usually not very expensive and the overall cost is still cheaper than if you buy books offline. Unless you pay for shipping from abroad, and that’s the real deal breaker </3

3) It’s so much easier ♦

When you’re online shopping, everything is just a click away. You browse for books, put them on your cart, check out, select payment option and shipping address, and you’re done. It’s so much more convenient than having to make the commute to the bookstore. I mean, you have to dress up, ride a public transportation or drive (which requires gas money and energy), and make the commute back home. It’s too much work. Why go through so much hassle when you could do it at home at midnight? 😛

4) Allow more access for anyone living anywhere

I live in Bogor, a pretty big city 40 minutes away from the capital Jakarta, but do you know how many bookstores sell imported books? ONE. It’s located in a big mall that is so crowded and it’s not even that complete. Online stores make my life so much easier (and happier). The books are being delivered to my doorstep and the shipping cost is less than half the amount of money required for me to personally make the trip to Jakarta. And everyone from every other city could also do this as long as they’re willing to pay for the shipping cost.

There’s also TBD that ships worldwide for free, allowing me to buy books that are not available in my country. Though I’m sad to know that not all countries have the privillege </3

5) Receiving book mail = the best feeling ever ♥

It’s always a good surprise to come home to a book mail waiting at your table. Or when a mail man knocks at your door to deliver your package. I always get over excited and have to suppress my enthusiasm before I greet the man 😛

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1) Wrong size & edition 

The sad, sad truth from online shopping is that it’s hard to know for sure what size or edition your books are in. Sure they have a cover on display, but they sometimes also say that ‘the cover image may be different due to new cover’. Some online store provided the info of the book dimensions but I NEVER remember to check it! >.< So sometimes the books come as huge and some other times they are super tiny that no wonder they’re so cheap :’)

2) Books arrived damaged 

Sadly this thing happens quite a lot. My copy of The Unbound arrived with the corners wrinkled, some of my TBD bookmarks are folded, and my copy of The Serpent King arrived with the seal broken. It’s the true horror… you’ll never know what happened and there’s nothing you could do but accept it.

3) Shipping takes 400 years 

Even when you order books from local online store, most of them always take a long time to ship! It’s so frustrating because who patiently waits for their book mail? Not me, I’m impatient >.< but it’s even worse when you order book from abroad, they usually take around 3 weeks to ship to my country. But good news, all my TBD orders from last month arrived in less than 3 weeks! Either I got lucky or they indeed have improved their shipping time ♥

4) You need credit card or paypal

You can’t pay with cash money. It’s not generally a bad thing, but some people, especially younger bookworms, don’t have credit card or paypal yet. Local online stores usually accept bank transfer, but most stores like TBD only accept credit cards and paypal. I have three joined credit cards with my parents and if anyone needs tips on how to use joined CC without your parents realizing how much you actually spend, call me 😛

5) It takes a lot of trust

Which I think is the main reason why people are still wary of online shopping. I mean, there’s a risk of fraud, the possibility of your packages getting lost in the mail, and returns & cancellations are more costly. But all these risks could be minimized if you know where to shop, which brings us to the tips below! 😀

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  1. Find a store you could really trust. Do not ever buy things online from untrusworthy store or seller. If you do this, you bring it on yourself. Make sure to look it up on google, read the customers reviews, etc. OHH and make sure you have a way to contact them, e-mail, customer chat, etc.
  2. Find out as many as you can about it. Not only to see whether it is trusted, but to know where they ship the book from, shipping costs, shipping time, etc. I once tried to order books from a local online store and turned out they ship the book from Canada and shipping time takes 50 days. I cancelled and never order from said store anymore.
  3. Be specific with your address and contact numbers. This is important to make sure you don’t lose your mail.
  4. Some legit online stores to try :
    1. The Book Depository. It’s super legit and free shipping worldwide! 😛 also, their customer service is SO GOOD they’ll answer every question you have quickly. One time my order was missing and they sent another copy, and if (God forbid) the second package is also missing, they will refund your money. I’ve experienced both.
    2. Amazon, if they ship to you at a reasonable price. I mean, who doesn’t know Amazon? The shipping cost to my country is insane, but I buy ebooks from there so I know it’s legit 😉
    3. Book Outlet. I personally never try it myself because they don’t ship to Indonesia (which I’m furious about because they ship to Papua New Guniea but not to Indonesia!!?). Buuuut I heard a lot of book bloggers use it and it’s trusted. Also the price is downright cheap! You have to pay for shipping, but I heard it’s not as expensive?
    4. Indonesia-based online stores for my fellow Indonesian bookworms 😀 my top choices are Books & Beyond, Periplus, and Open Trolley. I’ve explained the pros and cons in this post ♦

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These are some my pros, cons, and tips on buying book online! Are you a frequent online shopper as well? Are there any pros and cons that I missed? Also, what is your favorite online store? I only know a few because not many affordable store ships to my country, but I’m totally open for some inputs! If you know other recommended stores, please tell me on the comments so we could help out fellow bookworms! ♥

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51 thoughts on “10 Pros & Cons of Buying Books Online

  1. I really love this post. I order all of my books online, except when I’m going to England or the US and I know their bookshops will have the books I want in English – otherwise in France, we do have a pretty good shelf of young adult books in bookshops, but, erm,…they are in French and I am in denial with my own language? hahaha. They don’t sell too many books in English, and if they do, not the ones I want, so I order online. I’m lucky enough to get almost free shipping on Amazon -well it’s 1 cent only because of a law protecting books in France-, so I can order a lot and it’s not too expensive. But I do miss going into bookshops and watching all the books for hours. But getting book mail is great so I guess it makes me feel better a bit haha 🙂
    Lovely post!I love all of your pros and cons, and I agree that anyone should just feel safe whenever they order online 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yayyy thank you Marie! ❤ OMG YES! I'm not the only one against translated book apparently hahaha :') I used to read translated books when I was younger but ever since my English got good enough, I sooo prefer to read in English! Haha OMGGG what law is that??? I wish my country would apply it too… amazon shipping cost would be the death of me </3 I still go to the bookstore frequently but ONLY when I don't feel like waiting for the mail haha the price difference is so vast 😦

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  2. I do get most of my books through local bookstores but it’s really so hard especially when I can’t find the book that I want. I’ve only ordered books online a couple of times because I don’t have a credit card and it’s too exhausting to convince my parents to allow me to use theirs every time. 😂 Being a credit card-less teenager sucks. 😅 Jk I don’t mind it that much, though getting frequent bookmails wouldn’t hurt. Great post! 💕

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  3. Theres also the fact that buying online can hurt the bookselling economy! Smaller physical bookshops (and some larger ones) will find it harder to compete with an online store that has everything.
    I’ve tried bookoutlet, but using a referral site! Not sure if that’s what you call it, but you get the books posted to a place in america – and then this place sends the book to you. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper than getting it shipped straight to your country (I live in SEA), it saves over 50% on shipping I think!
    Fleur @ FranklyBooks just posted CHRISTMAS IS COMING UP…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree! I’ve heard Amazon had put a lot of local bookstores out of business 😦 But in all fairness, collecting books isn’t a cheap hobby and I think most people will choose the cheapest option available 🙂 Ooohhh that sounds great! I’m so going to find out more about it, thank you for sharing! 😀

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  4. I order all my books online – but that’s the most online shopping I do! Mainly bc I trust Amazon and TBD – I’ve never had a huge problem with them before! Of course, I’ve had books come in different editions, WHICH KILLS ME AND MAKES ME SO SAD (think of all the bookstagram opportunities that will be missed!), at least I’ll still get the book! ^_^

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  5. I agree with all of these points! Lovely post 🙂 I am fortunate enough that shipping is the only thing that is never really an issue here. It is pretty fast. I also know that there are some valid reasons to not order online, but with my situation, sometimes it is the only option, so it is nice to read something covering all of the benefits and risks 🙂

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    • Ahh I envy you!! This is the time when being an international bookworm sucks… hahaha me too, I’ve been told that ordering online could put local bookstore out of business but what can I do, I have to choose the most sensible option. By sensible I mean affordable though hahaha thank you for reading 😀

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      • I don’t see bookstores being overly threatened, but I could be commpletely wrong. Of course we have a ton of independent and small bookstores here. We have the world’s largest, Powell’s. It is hard for me to imagine. Being unable to drive a lot due to the vertigo, I do shop online more than I like 😛

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  6. Great post! 🙂 I’m a big time online book shopper. I didn’t have the best experience with shipping when it came to BD, but I also do 98% of my online shopping with Amazon. I buy everything from books to laundry detergent with them and I have never had an issue. I also like that books are cheaper online. Even the hardbacks seem to be cheaper on Amazon. If I’m in the bookstore, I always pull up the Amazon app while I’m there to see if it’s a good deal or not. I agree with all of your points. I’m fortunate to have never received a damaged book. I would’ve sent it back if I had that issue. That’s no fun getting damaged items before you get the chance to use them.

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    • Thank you 😀 ahh why is that? BD is my main source of online shopping haha exactly! The price difference is so vast that sometimes it doesn’t even make sense. Me too, that’s totally what I do when I’m in the bookstore hahaha 😛 ughh I know it sucks, but when I receive the book from TBD 3 weeks after placing the order, returning the book to get a replacement copy isn’t really worth the wait 🙈

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  7. You make a lot of great points in this, Puput 😊! I’m a huge online shopper as well, especially when it comes to books. I have one local used bookstore where I can find a lot for cheap but it’s nearly an hour away so I don’t get to go very often. I usually use Amazon and then occasionally Book Depository when I want editions from other countries. I’ve had great experiences with both and also bad experiences. Namely damaged books. That’s the biggest downside to online shopping for books for me because it has happened quite often sadly. I’ve also been conned before! There was this one website I used to use until I never received a book and couldn’t get anyone to contact me for a replacement or refund. It was terrible. Also, another note about physical bookstores and their stock – I was once told that they only carry the most popular books for their local. They buy based on what their customers buy which is another reason why a lot of bookstores don’t carry a lot of books. My local B&N is one of those stores which is probably why I never shop there anymore 🙈.

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  8. I love pre ordering books on Amazon. They ship it before the book releases, so it lands on your doorstep on the big day. Plus if the book goes down in price between when you buy it and when the book releases they refund the difference to you. As a girl who usually checks out books from the library, I am all about saving money on books ; )

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  9. Love this post and totally agree with all your pros and cons. I love buying certain things online (like books), but there’s a lot of stuff I won’t buy online (like clothes). But I definitely think everyone should try it for some things! I bet they’d love it a lot more than the hassle of the store. 😊

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  10. I love buying books online. I have a membership with Barnes & Noble so I get free 2 day shipping & discounts, and its a trustworthy store. I can see how it can be more stressful internationally though! I get nervous buying things from Amazon & BD. Also…” how to use joined CC without your parents realizing how much you actually spend, call me” hahahah that made me laugh xD

    Molly @ Molly’s Book Nook

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahhh I really want to visit Barnes & Noble! and that sounds like a really great deal 😀 uh huh, with international shipping there’s this insecurity that the package will get lost in the mail and we have no way to contact the delivery service while local shipping uses local courier that could easily be tracked 🙂 ahahaha I have developed the most efficient way to use credit cards without my parents knowing for real 😛

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      • It is! It’s only $25 a year and I get all sorts of promos & discounts, on top of the shipping. It’s cool. And yes! Exactly! I’m actually dealing with a lost package right now – the same thing has gotten lost TWICE. Just…ugh.

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  11. Great post! Whilst I do order most of my books online as it’s cheaper, I always try and visit my local book shop when I can. There’s something much more exciting about being able to look through all the books and the fact that you don’t have to wait for them to arrive! Plus you can make sure you don’t get a slightly damaged book; like you said, you don’t get to choose when you order online, and I’m really picky about keeping my books neat!

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  12. These are great! I totally agree about the damaged thing- that happens to me WAYY too often. I love getting bookmail, and the ease of which things pop onto my porch…. yep, it’s a win! And really, the cost is the biggest for me. I’d love to go browse in a bookstore and buy all the things, but the cost is too high. I think if we had any independent bookstores, I’d be more likely to pay extra, but if it’s just another chain… does it matter if I used Barnes & Noble or Amazon? Probably not 😉 Great post!

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    • Thank you 😀 I knoooow it’s sad but at least there are still other perks hahaha exactly! It’s not just the price of the book itself but the cost of going there and back hahaha online shopping is definitely the winner 😛 exactly what I think! One of the biggest chain store for imported books in my country is Kinokuniya and their prices are wayyy higher. I think me shopping at TBD is never gonna make Kinokuniya go out of business :’)

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  13. Brilliant post, Puput ♥ Living in the middle of nowhere I do 90% of my book buying online. Fortunately some of the Australian online bookstores offer free shipping so it makes my impatient self really happy 😅 Nothing comes close to actually shopping in a real book store though, there’s just something so brilliant about it so I always try to do it as much as I can. It doesn’t happen often though so I’m eternally grateful online bookstores exist haha. Also online is great too because book mail is the best thing EVER and it’s so great having access to just about every book ever.

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    • Thank you Lauren 😀 ahh I knoooow, online shopping could be suuuch a life savior right hahaha ohhh that must be a nice deal, free+closer haha true! I love looking at all the books on the shelves and everything and I still do it a lot, esp when I don’t feel patient enough to wait for shipping hahaha 😛

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  14. Ooh, this is a great resource – thank you Puput! I’ll be sending any curious book-buyers your way if I ever meet any.
    I buy all my books online though I may buy some books from my local indie shop just to support them every once in awhile. I completely relate to the shipping issues and the damage problems though – in saying that, I know that Book Depository are always really good if something is damaged, and I find their customer service very helpful! ^_^

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    • Ahh please do and thank you ❤ buying books online is the best though haha in my country we don't have indie bookstore that sells imported books and imported books are only sold at giant chain store so I figured it wouldn't make any difference if I shop there or online ehehe 😂😂 yes!! They're so nice and responsive and very trustworthy! Suuuch a precious gem for international bookworm 😀

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  15. I buy most of my books online too. I did almost all of my holiday shopping online this year too. Thankfully in all the years I’ve been buying online I’ve had very few problems. Great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hi there! I’m Tiara, an Indonesia-based as well. I can REALLY relate all the hardships of finding cheap English book here. I’m skeptical with Book Depository and planning to buy some books there. The price is so reasonable and the free shipping is very tempting. Then again I know nothing about any additional tax. I want to ask, if we order there, will there be any additional cost beside the books price once the books arrive in Indonesia? Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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