Where to Buy Books Online
Learn how to purchase a book online in a number of different interesting formats. I’ll try to stick with the most legitimate and safest means of purchasing books on the internet, so you don’t have to worry too much about someone stealing your credit card information or online identity. Those wanting the online equivalent of out-of-the-way thrift shops will have to look elsewhere, because this article about how to purchase books online is for the person who has never bought a book on the internet before and is looking for ideas.
Purchasing a book online is about like purchasing any other item online. You’re looking for a combination of large selections, ease of navigation through the online book store, good prices and — most importantly — the best in online security. You want to be able to give out your personal information and credit card numbers with the confidence these are legitimate, big-time book vendors with better things to do than steal your identity. All of the book purchasing options below represent that, and you’ll know immediately that these are online names and book selling names you hear thrown out there all the time.
1. Amazon.com – Amazon allows people to buy book from the online store or through a third party independent seller. These book vendors are often book stores located somewhere out in the American landscape, who sell new and used books to make a little extra profit. Amazon has the “new & used” prices ranked according to price. You’ll be able to see each vendor’s collective ranking, so you have a pretty good idea how trustworthy the person you are buying from is.
If you don’t want to adventure out, you can buy new books directly from Amazon. Amazon offers a variety of shipping options, so you can get it overnight or the default standard shipping. If you buy over $25 worth of items that fit into Amazon’s free shipping program, you might be able to get your shipping for free. And if it’s near Christmas, you can sift through the shipping options and learn which options will get the gift there before December 25.
Amazon does not use Paypal, so you’ll be buying books with your credit card. Given that it’s Amazon.com, this is about as safe as you can get when giving out your credit card information online, though. Even if you buy through a third-party seller, Amazon handles the transaction, so these little-known stores won’t have your information.
2. Amazon Kindle – There is a new way to buy books online. Amazon.com has the “Kindle” electronic books option, which at least some people claim will one day make books obsolete. That may be the case, though I assume that’s a long time coming. Kindle books are not paper and ink books, but downloaded e-books that are placed on an electronic device known as a Kindle.
The Kindle “wireless reading device” is around $130 at the moment at Amazon, but the device allows you to download books, newspapers and blogs to this device from Amazon itself. You’ll recoup a lot of that money if you read a lot of books, because the downloads will be significantly less than the hardback version of the book (most new releases and best sellers top out at $9.99). If you are concerned about availability, know that Amazon is currently advertising that over 100 of the New York Times Best Selling 112 books are available on kindle. There are over 200,000 books available at present, and this will only grow with time.
When you download the book, it comes to you in less than a minute on high-speed internet hookups. Your device will hold over 200 books at a time and even more newspapers. You can get any major newspaper in the world, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. You can also get major world newspapers like Le Monde and Frankfurter Allgemeine. If you prefer magazines, you can get titles like TIME, Forbes or Atlantic Monthly. If blogs are your style, you can get options like the HuffingtonPost, Slashdot, TechCrunch or, my favorite, the Onion.
If you’re concerned about getting a headache from reading off a bright computer screen all day, don’t. The kindle has a gentle backlight, so it’s very easy on the eyes. Amazingly, the kindle uses real ink to form the words as you read, though I don’t pretend to know how that works. The point being, you sit with a book-sized device in your hand and read from real ink letters that are gently lit to make the process as much like real book-reading as possible.
The kindle device has a long battery life, so you can go two days without recharging. Recharges generally take about 2 hours of being plugged in at a time. Because AmazonKindle uses the same kind of wireless hookups as advanced cellphones, you’ll be able to download books just about anywhere. And because you pay as you go, there’s no need for monthly bills or service plans. You get the book you want and read it; heck, you can even download emails into your kindle device for easy reading.
3. Ebay Books – Ebay.com offers a chance to find and bid on cheap older books that someone in the world is trying to sell. Just imagine all the books sitting around closets and attics around the world and you’ll know what can be found for cheap on ebay. Just know that the selection will be large, though not complete.
Actually, ebay is like rummaging through an online flea market or garage sale. If you spend the time to search a little, you’ll find all kinds of serendipitous books to buy. Because of the nature of the auctions, some books you might find to be overpriced, while others you’ll find to be unbelievably good deals. Most used books will come in on the cheap side, though you have to factor in the shipping charges. Watch out for hidden price increases in the shipping fees, because some vendors like to inflate the price by charging several dollars more in shipping than they should. At the same time, if you can find several good deals from the same vendor, you can get bargains on shipping charges.
You’ll be using Paypal most of the time when using Ebay. Paypal is an online money transfer service created by the people at Ebay.com, which has become a standard internet money transfer tool for transactions outside of ebay. In fact, Paypal has become THE method for transferring money for many online employers, buyers and sellers. Known for its reliability and ease of use, you simply click in your email address and password information, and send money to and from your Paypal account. You can even set this up to a standard credit card or bank account for incredible ease in transferring money online or to your bank account. Since it’s the people from Ebay, whose entire business model is dependent on the security of Paypal, you’ll know that you have the top-of-the-line in online encryption and security. Ebay insures most purchases under $2,000, so you don’t have to worry about getting ripped off.
That’s another thing about purchasing from Ebay. The administrators at Ebay are aggressive in banning vendors who try to run scams, so you have a pretty good idea that the people you are dealing with are on the up-and-up. You can look at a vendor’s selling history to see what kind of feedback and user rating they have received. There is also a number displayed next to their Ebay identity which shows how many unique customers they have had, as well as a “date joined” stat to show how long this person has been selling on ebay. Many have been in business for 10 years.
That’s the upshot with Ebay.com. You’ll encounter real-world bookstores selling from their real-world book shelves. You’ll find online vendors who make a living selling on ebay. You’ll even find grandmothers who are just trying to clean out the attic, or students who are selling their textbooks for cheap to get a money for Ramen noodles. Like with all the other items on Ebay, though, you can find good online book deals and have them shipped to you by either UPS or the US Postal Service.
4. Barnes & Noble Online – If you Google the words “how to purchase a book online”, the first entry in Google is barnesandnoble.com. In many ways, this makes Barnes&Noble the premier online book seller in the world. Like with a brick-and-mortar Barnes & Nobles store, though, you have to know that the price will reflect that premiership. Don’t go to B&N if you’re bargain hunting, because it’s a store that thrives on top-end, high quality sales.
Barnes & Noble offers a genre layout on their books page, so you can browse according to book genre. You’ll find links for “business & money”, “mystery & crime”, “Politics & current affairs”, “teens”, “children’s books”, “romance” and so on. In all, you can 19 different book genres or topics. If you want to buy audiobooks, there’s a category for that. Spanish-speaker can find the books they want in the “libros en espanol” section.
Barnes and Noble also offers special collections, if you want recommendations for your online book purchases. There is the “B&N School”, “B&N Classics” and “B&N Recommends” sections. You can browse in topics like “Best of 2008″, “At the Movies” and “In the News” sections. There are even recommendations on great new writers and topics like Valentine’s Day selections. Barnes & Noble books also allows you to browse according to award winners and prize winners, such as the “Pulitzer Prize” winners, “Noble Prize” winners, National Books Critics Circle Awards, National Books Awards and Children’s Book Awards.
So if you want ease of navigation or ideas for great new books you can buy online, there really is no better electronic option than Barnes & Noble’s online book store. The only difference in the live Barnes & Noble stores is that you won’t be able to buy any Starbucks Coffee while you’re browsing. And if you decide that the prices are too high in this failing economy, you can head over to one of the other online bookstores to comparison shop.
That being said, Barnes & Noble online offers their own “discount books and bargain books” section, as well as “old and out of print books”. So stay in the store long enough to find obscure books and other little-known reading options. For fast deliveries, B&N Online uses UPS. There are also times when you can qualify for their free shipping program. So online book shoppers should know that you can find affordable online books at Barnes & Noble, because they know you can find what you’re looking for at their website and then head over to Amazon to make a purchase. That’s one of the great things about the competitive online book industry; people know that their rivals are just one click away.
Buying Online Books
I could get into a whole list of other online books buying options, but these should get the internet book purchaser newcomer into buying books electronically without any dangers to your bank account at all. If you want to know the specifics of how to buy books at these sites, here’s a quick how to.
1. Find the Title You Want – Navigate through the online bookstore to find the title you want. One great thing about online book browsing is you can read reviews of these books by real book buyers at Amazon. Keep in mind that most people motivated to write reviews tend to love the books, so ratings might tend to be higher on average that the full scope of people who read the book. Take a look at the one-star ratings if you want a counter-balance, because these are the disgruntled book buyers.
2. Place Book in Your Cart – Most online book vendor sites have a “shopping cart”, which is simply a page where you list all the books you want to buy with this purchase. You might also find a “wish list”, which is simply books you find interesting and you want to keep on a list, so you don’t forget them. You can move books off your wish list to the cart if you decide to make the book purchase, or you can move them off your wish list entirely. Also, remember that you can move book selections out of your cart, if you have second thoughts before purchasing.
3. Put in Your Mailing Information – You’ll be prompted to enter your name and address the first time you make a purchase at an online bookstore. This will be saved for the next time you buy from that same vendor. Make certain to place your current address information, so you make sure to have the books delivered to you and not someone else. Double check and triple check before making a book purchase.
4. Put in Your Credit Card or Paypal Information – Depending on what’s appropriate, place your billing information when you’re prompted. This allows the online store to charge you for your purchase. Only go with reputable online book stores that you know can be trusted. If you decide to go off the beaten path for that one obscure book you can get nowhere else, make certain to Google that website and the word “scam”, to see what other people are saying about their purchases there. Do that tiny bit of internet research on the people selling you books and you can save yourself money and a lot of aggravation. If a site looks untrustworthy in the least, do not buy from it.
5. Click Purchase – Finally, sites will have a button you click or push that finalizes the sale. Look over your purchase one more time, then click “buy” or “purchase” or whatever it asks. I once filled out everything I wanted and forgot to hit the “buy” button. A week later, I started to wonder why Amazon hadn’t sent me my books, only to realize I never finalized the purchase. Doh! There are worse things in online book buying than wasting a week, but just make sure you have made the purchase before you start to get frustrated with the online book vendor, the UPS people or you mailman.