Online Bookshops to Shop at Instead of Amazon: Breaking up with Amazon (Part I)

Are you ready to break from the shackles of Amazon but aren’t sure where else to reliably buy books online? Look no further, for I have put together a mini-series on how you too can break up with Amazon. Today is Part 1 – online bookshop alternatives to Amazon.

I have been slowly trying to move away from shopping at Amazon. It’s no secret how horrible the company is, but unfortunately convenience and price often win out over making a more ethical choice. To be honest, if you’re not a prime member, that is is all it has going for it – they haven’t invested in their website for a long time, the user experience isn’t very nice and don’t get me started on how awful their checkout pages are.

While buying at other places is often a more expensive option, I don’t buy a ton of books, I can afford to spend a little bit more and I like knowing that my money is going to a good company. Without further ado, here is my list of Amazon alternatives:

Hive (Worldwide)

This is one of my favourite places to shop for books online. You can get physical, audio and e-books from them and once you make a purchase, you can choose a local bookshop and they pass on a percentage of your money directly to them. You can also get DVDs, CDs, stationery and gifts.

Delivery? Free UK delivery or collection from your local bookshop. Overseas delivery starting at £5.99.

During lockdown they dispatched books within 24 hours despite warning that it might take up to 5 working days.

Values & Perks: Supporting indie bookshops – Hive supports high street bookshops whether you have a local one to support or not, so it’s beneficial all round! Due to current circumstances, Hive have also pledged to double the amount they pay to bookshops. They also offer student discount.


World of Books (Worldwide)

I have used this website a lot recently and it is a great option for second-hand book shopping as well as DVDs and music. They clearly list the book’s condition – prices vary depending on whether it is ‘Like New’ or ‘Used’ etc. I bought a book that was ‘Like New’ and can confirm, it was indeed squeaky clean.

Delivery? Free UK delivery and various charges worldwide.

They do sometimes send parcels in multiple packages as their books don’t all come from the same place but everything will make its way to you within a week or so.

Values & Perks: World of Books is a Certified B Corporation, which is basically the highest standards of ethical certification you can get – it is environmentally friendly and ensures that its workers are treated well, which is something I can’t say about a certain company.


Wordery (Worldwide)

Wordery calls itself ‘your online bookshop’ and as such they only sell books. They have a huge selection of books and they try to put a bookmark in each parcel they deliver.

Delivery? Free worldwide delivery.

Values & Perks: Wordery donates to the NSPCC and the National Literacy Trust. From their website they say they want to ‘improve literacy among young people, because we believe this is a crucial measure of a healthy society’. They also deliver books in as few packages as possible, and their paper/card packaging is recycled and recyclable so they are a greener company.


Blackwell’s (UK)

One of the last big indie bookshop chains in the UK, I have ordered from here a couple of times. My experience with Blackwell’s has been a bit mixed – the first order was absolutely fine. The second time, one of my books got lost in the post – not their fault, but their customer service team basically made me wait for about 3 weeks and talking to them felt like they were being deliberately unhelpful and frankly a little rude. They did replace the missing book in the end and though it put me off for a while, it did feel like a one-time thing.

Delivery? Free UK delivery and free Click+Collect.

Values & Perks: One of the last indie bookshop chains that is still family-owned. They also offer students a price match to Amazon/Waterstones/WHSmith on certain books.


Waterstones (Worldwide, but UK focused)

I don’t think I really need to explain Waterstones to you. Buying online supports the thousands of booksellers and the hundreds of Waterstones bookshops all over the UK.

Delivery? Free UK delivery above £25. Worldwide delivery starting at £12.

Values & Perks: Supporting a bricks and mortar bookshop, Waterstones also offer a loyalty card scheme, 5% student discount and a separate student loyalty card scheme.


Foyle’s (Worldwide, but UK focused)

Waterstones bought Foyle’s back in 2018, however they operate under their own brand still and have their own website. Again, shopping from the online store will help support the physical bookshops too.

Delivery? Free UK delivery above £25 and free Click+Collect. European and worldwide delivery is offered but starts at £9.

Values & Perks: Bricks and mortar bookshop, 10% student discount.


Indie Shops

The above has been big, broad sweep of bookshops you can order online from. Apart from Hive, none of these support small bookshops. I sadly do not have any small bookshops near me but lots of indie shops do offer delivery and collection services. They might not have the money to run a fancy website but lots operate through old fashioned email and collection, so why not ask your local bookshop what they offer?


Bookshop.org (UK and US)

Since initially posting this about a month ago, Bookshop.org has entered our lives with the aim to keep indie bookshops alive. This online site, according to the Chicago Tribune is the Rebel Alliance to Amazon’s Empire and if that’s not enough to get you to start shopping here, I don’t know what is!

The front page features different ‘shelves’ curated by indie bookshops which feel like the kind of personal recommendations you get in real bookshops. As an example, I saw one today called It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas which was curated by Moon Lake Books. The lists, the pages and the fact that on checking out, the website tells you how much money you’re giving directly to the bookshops brings you that much closer to the independent sellers!

Delivery? Second class tracked, £2.75, first class tracked £4.10. Currently there is a UK site and a US site, but they may expand to Europe after this.

Values & Perks: If you pick a bookshop, they receive full profit from your order, otherwise you contribute to an earnings pool that is divvied out. Bookshop.org describes itself as a B Corporation, but I haven’t found them on the B Corp Directory, so it might be a case of getting their certification

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This is by no means an exhaustive list of Amazon alternatives, but based on places that I have shopped at, am familiar with and have easy websites to shop from. Whether it is a good browsing experience, range of books or a simple delivery and payments, I think that counts for a lot when shopping online. You might have noticed that I didn’t mention The Book Depository – sorry folks, that has been owned by Amazon since 2011.

Finally, just to note, I think there is a difference between the people who can make small changes and those who genuinely can’t afford to buy elsewhere or perhaps have accessibility issues and Amazon is the most convenient place to shop. I do think that lots of us need to ask ourselves a few questions when we buy books. Do I need to buy every book new? Can I afford to spend a couple of quid extra on a book? Have I read every book I have bought and so, do I need to buy as many books as I do?

I hope I’ve provided some options for you to shop at – even if you can only shop at alternative sites every now and again, remember that your one order at an indie shop is so much more valuable to them than your one order is to Amazon. Please share any websites that you like to shop at in the comments!

Edited to add: since I wrote this post, it looks like the indie bookshops have banded together to have an online presence with Bookshop.org so of course, I looked it up and added it to the list!

2 thoughts on “Online Bookshops to Shop at Instead of Amazon: Breaking up with Amazon (Part I)

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