Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Avoiding Amazon

A few weeks back I declared I would no longer buy print books or ebooks from Amazon, including its subsidiary The Book Depository if I could get them somewhere else. I am sick of Amazon’s predatory and monopolistic behaviour. I don’t like their avoidance of tax, especially in Australia, and I have read they treat their workers badly. More importantly, Amazon seems to be having a detrimental effect on Australian publishers. I decided I would rather pay more for my books and ebooks than contribute to a poor corporate citizen like Amazon.

Not So Difficult to Avoid Amazon 

I worried about how often I would have to use Amazon or its subsidiary when they are the only source of a book or an ebook. So I decided to check on the availability of the last eleven books/ebooks I had purchased, eight were print books, three were ebooks. To my surprise, I found all eleven books could be easily purchased from sources other than Amazon or The Book Depository. 

But It Will Cost More 

I was curious how much more I would end up paying for books. So I checked the price I paid for those eleven books against the prices charged by Amazon and the Book Depository. And then checked those prices against what I would have paid if I had purchased all the books directly from the publisher or from a bookstore.

Cost of Print Books 

Surprisingly, I purchased some of the books cheaper from bookstores than their current prices on Amazon or The Book Depository. Overall, the books were cheapest on Amazon, but to get a book sent out to Australia costs around $10, so unless I bought all the books at once, it would be cheaper to get them from The Book Depository as it doesn’t charge postage.

Two of the print books I bought from bookstores where not available at The Book Depository or Amazon. If the other six print books were purchased from The Book Depository instead of from bookstores or directly from the publisher, they would cost $11.08 less, or an average of $1.84 a book. Interestingly, if Australia’s 10% Goods and Services Tax is added to The Book Depository books the difference is less than $3.        

Cost of ebooks

If all three of the ebooks were bought from Amazon it would cost $15.95 as compared to $18.58 if they were downloaded directly from the publisher. That is $2.63 more or 88 cents more per ebook. The gap would be just 34 cents per ebook if Amazon paid the GST.

So overall, I would have paid $13.71 less for the nine available books/ebooks if I had purchased them all from Amazon or its subsidiary, about $1.50 a book. That works out to about an extra $30 a year for books I buy. I can live with that. 

There will of course be the added cost of postage if I get print books mailed out from the publisher.  But of the last eight print books I bought, seven of them were purchased in bookstores.


Graham Clements said...

A commenter on Facebook suggested Booktopia was competitive with Amazon. I went and had a look. I checked the same eleven books/ebooks that I used in the blog post. Booktopia did not have the three ebooks. Bootopia was $19.92 dearer for the six print books that were also available at Amazon. But it was $22 cheaper than the bookstores for the eight print books I sampled in the post. I haven't used Booktopia before, but will probably start using them now.

Graham Clements said...

On Google+ a suggestion that I try thriftbooks - looks mainly secondhand. They had four of the eight books I surveyed in the original blog post, for around $4 each second hand. Of the other books, three were out of stock and one was not mentioned. $4,99 postage to Australia.

Anthony J. Langford said...

Very informative Graham. Good researching. I dont use them. They are the McDonalds of publishing.

I feel bad sending my money overseas but the price difference seems too much to justify buying a book in Australia. However I do splurge out for a new book or two every now and then. However most of the books that interest me are older books, so I buy them second hand through Abe Books. The books are dirt cheap, the postage means Im still only paying about $12 a book. Cheaper if I order more than one from the same supplier. Check them out.

Graham Clements said...

Anthony, most of the books I buy are new releases so booktopia, which is based in Australia, looks like a slightly dearer alternative to the Book Depository if I can't find a book in a bookstore.

Anthony J. Langford said...

I will checkout Book Topia - cheers