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The 7 Best Amazon Alternatives to Buy Books Online

Dan Price Updated 19-06-2020

If you want to buy books online, Amazon is the biggest name in the industry. But it is far from perfect. Other online bookstores are often cheaper and have more expertise in niche genres.

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So, to give you more options when you’re looking to buy books, we have compiled a list of the best Amazon alternatives…

1. Powell’s Books

powells books

Based in Portland, Oregon, this bookseller has both a physical presence in various locations around the city, as well as a website that caters 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 pieces of software, CDs, and DVDs. To help you choose wisely, under “Staff Picks” you can find various recommendations to help you decide which books to read next 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 bucketlist books. Powell’s also provides a way for you to sell your own books online and in-store.

Powell’s is especially notable for regularly offering unique editions of books signed by authors. However, be sure to keep an eye on shipping costs. They are more expensive than some of their competitors.

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The company’s return policy is also surprisingly strict; you cannot get a refund on orders for books in quantities of 10 or more (of the same title), nor on opened games, DVDs, or books that come with electronic media.

2. Books-A-Million

books a million

Books-A-Million (BAM) started life way back in 1917 in Alabama. It is now the second-largest book retailer in the United States. It has physical stores, and in recent years, has also become an online bookseller.

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

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The biggest downside of BAM is the lack of support for selling your own books. If you’re the type of person who likes to trade titles with other readers, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

3. Alibris

alibris book shop

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 bookstore. This makes the platform perfect for those who are looking for used, rare, or collectible titles such as first editions, antiquarian titles, and signed copies.

The website frequently offers various discounts on books in the form of coupons, student discounts, and even a whole section of $0.99 titles. Alibris also offers free shipping on all items.

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In addition to fiction and non-fiction, you will also find textbooks, cookbooks, books about hobbies, and kids’ books.

Unfortunately, you are once again faced with a complicated returns policy. Because you are buying from different independent sellers, the policy differs on a seller-by-seller basis. Make sure you understand the policy for your seller before committing to a purchase.

4. Peachpit

peachpit

Peachpit is a Pearson brand that 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 you need to get started with Adobe Photoshop, academic resources for web design and development, and video-making guides.

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

The drawback is the cost. Some of the titles feel a little pricey. However, Peachpit offers a system of discounts, including deals of the week, and promotional “bundles” to help you save money.

5. Barnes & Noble

barnes and noble

Barnes & Noble is one of the largest online book retailers, with more than 5 million titles to choose from and hundreds of physical bookstores. It’s also one of the best online bookstores that isn’t Amazon.

You should check out Barnes and Noble if you’re looking to buy a lot of items at once without overpaying for shipping; it’s free once you meet the minimum order threshold of $35. And if you’re not satisfied you have 14 days to return your books.

6. Valore Books

valore books

Valore Books is an online bookstore that specializes in textbooks. It presents a great 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 purchasing used copies and/or older editions.

The website also offers book rentals at an even lower cost, as well as buybacks. The two features simultaneously allow you to save money and for the company to grow its inventory of rentable books for other users.

You won’t find any non-textbooks for sale. If you want to read fiction, give this store a pass.

7. BetterWorldBooks

betterworldbooks

BetterWorldBooks 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, the company accepts book donations so it can either reuse them in global literacy initiatives or recycle them.

There’s plenty of choice in both new and used books categories, searchable by genre. You’ll find many of the best new books to read 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 as well as the classics here. The company also offers free shipping and a flexible return policy (though keep in mind that refunds might take up to 60 days to clear into your account).

What Are the Best Online Bookstores?

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, it ships internationally, 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. We’re not going to tell you which approach is the right one, just make sure you find an online bookstore that meets your needs.

If you’re in search of recommendations, ebooks, and more, these must-have apps for book lovers 10 Must-Have Apps for Book Lovers Love to read? You need these apps designed for bookworms. They'll help you find new books, connect with others, and more. Read More will serve you well. Also, learn about 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 .

Related topics: Amazon, Ebooks, Online Shopping.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. UUUnicorn
    June 26, 2020 at 2:31 am

    How I miss Borders Books and Music! It felt like a campus bookstore, as opposed to the feel of Barnes & Noble. Back then, Barnes & Noble felt stuffy.

    Two more reasons why I miss Borders: I met my spouse at a Borders Books & Music many years ago, and not long before Borders went out of business, I tried my first cold-brew iced coffee there.

  2. Tena
    June 20, 2020 at 3:05 pm

    I cringed when I saw Alibris on this list. They're okay if you have no problems with your order, but if you need customer service, then I wouldn't hold your breath. Their email response time is 2 days and automated. Their email bot has all the charm of a can opener.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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)

  7. 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 :(

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

    HI.

    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!

  9. 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 ...

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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..

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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

  16. 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.

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

    BookDepository?

    • 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.

  18. 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.