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The 7 Best Alternatives to Amazon for Buying Books

Anya Zhukova 17-04-2017

It goes without saying that when it comes to choosing between Amazon and your local bookseller, Amazon wins on so many levels. For instance, it helps you choose better books, as the recommendations are based on what you’ve already read rather than on what the store’s employees like. Some would argue that buying books on Amazon is also better for authors and the economy, but that’s another debate for another day.


At the same time, Amazon is far from perfect. Even putting aside the alleged less-than-ideal working conditions, other online bookstores are cheaper, offer more expertise in niche genres, and more besides. We found seven different online bookstore alternatives that will make you consider switching away from Amazon occasionally.

1. Powell’s Books

powells books

Based in Portland, Oregon, this bookstore has both physical presences in various locations around the city, as well as its website catering to those of us who don’t live in Portland.

The website is easy to use and well-organized. You can find both new and used books there, as well as various software, CDs, and DVDs. To help you choose wisely, under “Staff Picks” you can find various recommendations for best reads The 11 Best Sites for Finding What Books to Read Next Want your next read to be a good one? These are the book recommendation websites you should look up for books to read next. Read More , including some picks of the month, and 25 “books to read before you die”. The option of selling your own books online and in-store also comes in handy.

Recommended to you if: You are searching of unique editions signed by the authors.

Best feature: Thorough customer support: in-store, phone, and email, as well as an extensive FAQ and customer support materials that can be found on the website.

Where it falls short: The website doesn’t offer free shipping. Return conditions are quite strict and you only have 30 days from purchase to complete the return for a full refund.

2. Books-A-Million

books-a-million store

BAM offers a diverse inventory that includes new, used, and bargain books which come with attractive price tags. You’ll also find toys, games, and magazines listed on the website.

The website is clean and comes with useful perks. A store locator will help you find the nearest shop if you prefer buying books in person. There’s also a convenient live chat support for any queries you might have while shopping online.

Recommended to you if: You’re looking for a wide variety of titles.

Best feature: The bookstore has sale or “bargain” books available.

Where it falls short: There is no option to sell your own books through BAM.

3. Alibris

alibris store

This online bookstore operates only through third-party booksellers. That means that when you buy a book from Alibris, you’re buying it from an independent online bookseller. This makes the platform perfect for those who are looking for used, rare, or collectible titles.

The website offers various discounts on books How To Find The Cheapest Books Online I’ve written before about my love for reading, but I also have a side of me that loves bargains and hates spending unnecessary coin. What’s a man to do when he wants to buy and... Read More , like coupons, student discounts, and even a whole section of $0.99 titles. Alibris also offers free shipping for all items.

Recommended to you if: You are looking to buy used or rare books (first edition, antiquarian, and signed).

Best feature: Bargain prices on all items, as well as the option to rent books.

Where it falls short: Alibris operates through third-party booksellers that have different return policies, which can make returning your books a little complex.

4. Peachpit

peachpit store

Peachpit specializes in selling books, ebooks, and other educational materials to those in creative professions. You’ll find a wide range of photography-related titles, everything to start you on Adobe Photoshop, academic resources for web design & development, and video-making.

This bookstore doesn’t just focus on print books but offers online courses and digital materials for on-the-go learners. The website also hosts a blog where you can find the community members’ insights about using software, gadgets, and embracing a digital lifestyle.

Recommended to you if: You’re looking for high quality creative and technology-related content.

Best feature: With the platform’s clear focus on technology it’s easy to find niche products specific to your field.

Where it falls short: Some of the titles might seem a little pricey. However, Peachpit offers a system of discounts, including deals of the week, and promotional “bundles”.

5. Barnes & Noble

barnes noble store

Barnes & Noble is one of the largest book retailers with hundreds of bricks-and-mortar bookstores. It’s also one of the best online ebook stores.

Aside from books of all types, the store sells ebooks for the company’s reading device, Nook, CDs, DVDs, games, toys, electronics, and more. Choose this bookstore if you’re looking to buy a lot of items at once without overpaying for shipping.

Recommended to you if: You aren’t searching for something specific, and want a big selection to choose from instead.

Best feature: Free shipping once you meet the minimum purchase requirement, simple return process.

Where it falls short: A rather short time frame to return your items at 14 days.

6. Valore Books

The 7 Best Alternatives to Amazon for Buying Books valorebooks screenshot 670x444

Our next pick is Valore Books, an online bookstore that specializes in textbooks. This source presents to you an opportunity to save money on textbooks 3 Tried-And-True Tips For Buying Cheap Textbooks The start of my fall semester classes is approaching faster than I want, marking the inevitable end of a spectacular summer for me. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the process of getting ready for... Read More by getting used, or older editions that are inevitably cheaper.

The website also offers book rentals at an even lower cost, as well as buybacks — another great way for you to save money and for the company to grow its inventory.

Recommended to you if: You’re looking for textbooks and academic materials.

Best feature: After use, you can sell the books you bought from Valore Books back to the company.

Where it falls short: Book selection is limited to textbooks only.

7. BetterWorldBooks

better world books store

Better World Books isn’t just a bookstore, but also a charity with a mission to change the world by improving literacy worldwide. Aside from buying and selling books, they accept book donations, reuse them in literacy initiatives, or recycle them.

There’s plenty of choice in both new and used books categories, searchable by genre. You’ll find both the best new books The 20 Best Books to Read in 2019 Here are the best books to read in 2019, focusing on standout books from a handful of categories as well as best-selling books. Read More and the classics here. The company also offers free shipping and a flexible return policy.

Recommended to you if: You want to contribute to promoting literacy by buying your next book from the website.

Best feature: Cheap prices with a number of discount options available.

Where it falls short: When returning a book, it might take up to 60 days for you to receive a full refund.

Did We Manage to Convince You?

Although all of the online bookstores mentioned above have their advantages, Amazon is still one of the best-known names in the industry. Its website is extremely user-friendly, ships internationally for free 20 Online Shopping Sites With Free International Shipping Plenty of online shopping sites offer free international shipping. Which can save you a fortune when shopping online. Read More , it has an extensive selection of books of all types, and it makes it easy to find a particular book in no time.

At the same time, more and more people are trying to avoid using Amazon, switching to using smaller, potentially more ethical companies.

If you’re in search of recommendations, ebooks, and more, these 10 must-have apps for book lovers may serve you well. And if you’re curious why ebooks are more expensive than paperbacks Why Are Ebooks More Expensive Than Paperbacks? How can ebooks cost more than paperbacks? The pricing makes no sense! Here's the answer to this burning question. Read More , we can help answer that.

Image Credit: photogl via Shutterstock.com

Explore more about: Amazon, Book Reviews, Ebooks, Online Shopping.

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  1. Alan
    September 26, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    I was trying to find a guide about cancer by Berry Khatri, of course it's on Amazon, but I reached to the source - net-boss.org - this is some online bookstore with selfpublish option, you can find there a lot of different guides, which are cheaper than on Amazon.

  2. Deborah
    July 15, 2019 at 3:46 am

    I am desperately trying to get away from Amazon.
    I've been feeling so proud of myself because I've been ordering from Abebooks... then today i remembered: they're owned by Amazon! Grrrrr...

    So now I'm looking for another option. Thank you for these.

    (I've often bought from barnes and noble, and I'm lucky because i have several of their stores near me), but their website does NOT work properly on my phone :-( if they don't have it in the store, I'll but it online from someone else.

  3. Jumpman Yang
    April 1, 2019 at 2:17 am

    I was trying to find "The Professional Practice of Landscape Architecture: A Complete Guide to Starting and Running Your Own Firm" at a cheaper price for new copies than Amazon, but I couldn't. In conclusion, Amazon has the best price.

  4. DB
    December 10, 2018 at 5:49 am

    One of the "charities" amazon donates $$$ to is the Muslim
    Research and Development Fund- a terrorist related organization. (MRDF)

  5. JeffS
    November 15, 2018 at 7:41 am

    ***AbeBooks.com*** I can't believe you missed this one! What I like about them is that they are not an actual bookseller, only a website through which INDEPENDENT BOOK SELLERS can sell their books. Long live the "Mom&Pop" corner book store!!!

    • JamesJ
      March 4, 2019 at 9:30 pm

      Amazon owns AbeBooks :(

  6. Gio
    November 13, 2018 at 9:59 am


    Thank You for this article.

    I would like to remind your readers that Amazon, Audible and The Book Depository, all have a ZERO rating (out of 20) from the ECRA (= Ethical Consumer Research Association).
    In addition, Amazon has a boycott call started from the same ECRA.

    With that in mind, I would like to suggest some ethical alternatives to Amazon and other profit-only driven bookstores.

    * Biblio.com
    * World of Books
    * Bookmooch.com

    Other non-optimal (but still better than Amazon etc.) options are:

    - WH Smith
    - Guardian Books
    - Hive
    - Alibris
    - The Book People
    - Waterstones
    - Audiobooks
    - Wordery
    - Ebooks.com
    - NearSt

    Thank You!

  7. Reader
    August 14, 2018 at 5:55 pm

    another good used book seller is Thriftbooks.com - good prices; free shipping over $10; many books under $5. Condition is listed and selectable (and accurate).
    I avoid Amazon. There is another site that lists alternatives to Amazon in general (not just books).
    Appreciate sites like this ...

  8. Delinke Freed
    May 23, 2018 at 9:23 pm

    I do not want to use Amazon, because of ethical and moral reasons. And there are many.

  9. Karen Kwiatkowski
    March 14, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    I have used Amazon for years and found it very convenient for myself and gift buying. I live in an area which has very few brick and mortar stores and the ones that were here have been closing one by one. I have stopped buying from Amazon due to their relationship with the NRA.

  10. Matt
    February 28, 2018 at 12:20 am

    BetterWorldBooks did a site redesign for improved search, load time and mobile use. I did work on it and noticed the old screenshot :-) Maybe it will move us up a spot or two!

    • JeffS
      November 15, 2018 at 7:35 am

      i wanted to buy a book from BWB because they are a charity. but i could not do the simplest thing: contact seller with a question (to verify version, and to verify that it had a certain coupon in the back, still, which is supposed to come with this book).

      if i can't contact seller, the deal is off.. grr.. i really wanted to..

  11. Ruediger Zachmann
    February 4, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Thank you for this site. I am trying to get away from shopping for so many things on Amazon. I want to get away from a company that earns so much money but does not treat its workers fairly.

  12. w chandler
    September 22, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Amazon accused me of sending bak damaged goods.It was the staff who were fiddling the returns.Then they said I bought too much at Xmas.It's time some one in authority took a look at company.

  13. David Glyn
    July 24, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    If you want a world where traders trade ethically, you have to expect to pay a little more for the privilege.
    Short term pain for long term gain

  14. Connie Lebsack
    July 8, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    I am leaving Amazon, which I've used for years. I cannot abide by their despicable morals, ethics, and abuse of workers.

    • Michael Treadwell
      September 20, 2017 at 12:02 am

      A company sent me a $50.00 Amazon gift card for taking their survey. I ordered a couple of books from Amazon and it appeared to me they were charging my debit card that they have on file, instead of deducting the money from my $50.00 gift card balance. I had to go through the hassle of cancelling two orders that I just placed. Why is it that I can only call Amazon customer service? And it was not even easy to find their customer service phone number on their website. Amazon does not allow me to email them any questions that I might have. At this moment I still have money left in my gift card balance, but I am afraid to order again. Amazon might charge my debit card again instead of deducting from my gift card balance.

  15. Thant Zin Oo
    April 18, 2017 at 6:58 am


    • Anya Zhukova
      April 18, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      I haven't used BookDepository.
      What would you say would be the platform's strengths and weaknesses compared to Amazon?

    • Laura
      August 11, 2018 at 6:32 am

      Book depository has been bought by Amazon.

    • Laura
      August 11, 2018 at 6:33 am

      Book Depository is owned by Amazon?

      • Reader
        August 14, 2018 at 6:01 pm

        According to Wikipedia, BookDepository was founded by a former Amazon employee but then acquired by Amazon in 2011.

  16. caroline
    April 17, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    I just saw this post AFTER searching for online bookstores only a few minutes ago !! .....
    Anyway, on goodreads some people advised Awesomebooks.com and after trying some others this was the best one I could find: it had all the titles I wanted AND shipping (to the Netherlands) wasn't a complete letdown, actually quite cheap. Also I could opt for paying with VISA, I hate PayPal... Now I only need to wait and see if I receive my order and what state the books are in.....

    • Anya Zhukova
      April 19, 2017 at 7:28 pm

      Hi Caroline,
      Thanks for sharing your experience! I hope your order is alright and arrives in time.
      Feel free to post an update on your experience here when you get your delivery.