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Buying books online - isn't Amazon the best value?

By Dilip Sinha
Posted Friday, November 5, 2004

Everybody wants good value when they buy books online - especially expensive ones. And everyone knows that people like Amazon have transformed book buying to provide everyone with better value than bookshops and other booksellers. Don't they? Haven't they? Not exactly. I am telling you because I should know. I too am a trader. I get the same prices, presumably, as Amazon from the publishing houses. They may even get a bigger discount from me becuase they buy in bulk for their thousands of customers. So how can I charge less than me?

Is it because they add apostage charge of around £3 to all orders under around £39? Most paperback books are around £6.99. If you look at Amazon's description of the book it may say "Our price £5.59. You save 20%". You are then invited to "buy now". So you are saving £1.40 on the price you would pay in a bookshop but then paying £3 postage. That makes the price £1.60 MORE than the bookshop price. That's the smallest village bookshop you can find, remember. Are you really going to order £39 worth of books at once? Can your credit card stand it? But are Amazon making a loss by offering you a 20% discount in the first place? Not on your life. They often get 35% discount. So they paid around £4.50 a book they are then asking you to pay £5.59. How many people buying a popular book does it take for them to cover their costs and make a profit even if they DIDN'T charge you £3 postage. But they do charge you that. So its not even a question of making a small profit or loss on each sale and hoping selling to lots of people gets them a discount on their postage bill - which it usually does.So how much should you pay? Well, we would make a profit on that £6.99 book with 35% discount to us from the publisher by charging you £5.75 INCLUDING POSTAGE.

So, please. Don't think you're not paying shop prices rather than discount prices. And I mean corner shop inflated prices, not Wal Mart sell it cheap prices.

We welcome any enquiries if oyu want more facts on the subject. Email us at

About the Author
Dilip Sinha
I am a mail order bookseller based in London, UK. I have 15 years experience in the book trade which developed from my own need to have a continous range of good and value books available as a bookseller. My company supplies books online and can be contacted at for more information.


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