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Where to Find the Best Prices for Books

Earlier today I posted the results of a survey that asked where we buy our books and why we choose to buy them there. One interesting result of that survey is that our most important consideration when choosing a place to buy our books is price—we buy where the prices are cheapest. Or we think we do. In many cases we think Amazon offers the best prices even though other e-commerce retailers have undercut them.

Just to verify that other stores do, indeed, offer better prices, I put together a shopping list of 10 books and priced them at 4 different stores: Amazon, Westminster Books, Monergism and CBD. I did not tell any of the retailers that I was going to do this (so the prices are “pure”) and chose books that the people who read this site might really buy. And here are the results (with the lowest price for each book bolded):

Title Amazon Westminster Monergism CBD
Crazy Love
by Francis Chan
$8.99 $8.84 $8.99 $7.99
The Reason for God
by Tim Keller
$8.65 $8.65 $9.36 $7.99
Do Hard Things
by Alex & Brett Harris
$10.70 $10.58 $11.99 $10.49
Think
by John Piper
$12.76 $12.69 $12.49 $12.49
Radical
by David Platt
$8.99 $8.84 $9.99 $7.50
Just Do Something
by Kevin DeYoung
$7.34 $8.23 $8.79 $7.49
Adopted for Life
by Russell Moore
$10.87 $10.71 $10.87 $11.99
The Next Story
by Tim Challies
$13.59 $12.87 $13.07 $12.99
Dug Down Deep
by Joshua Harris
$13.59 $13.39 $13.49 $12.99
The Christian Faith
by Michael Horton
$31.49 $30.99 $30.95 $29.49
TOTAL $126.97 $125.79 $129.99 $121.41

Shipping is also an important consideration, of course, since the price can’t be fully tallied until we’ve accounted for getting those books to our mailbox. Here is how shipping would play out (assuming that the order was to a US address):

  • Amazon: free (USPS, 1-2 weeks)
  • Westminster Books: $1 (UPS, 2-5 business days)
  • Monergism Books: free (USPS, 1-2 weeks)
  • CBD: $9.71 (USPS, 1-2 weeks)

That leaves us with something like this (which actually changes the picture quite a lot):

  Amazon Westminster Monergism CBD
TOTAL $126.97 $126.79 $129.99 $131.12

So maybe I was a little too hard on Amazon. Though Amazon does not have the best prices on their books, when combined with their free shipping, they remain very competitive (if you are buying less than the minimum amount needed for free shipping you will probably find Amazon is not quite so competitive). Even then, it’s amazing that with 10 books plus shipping the difference between the 4 stores is less than 4%—a mere $4.33. Maybe the real lesson here is that we can’t lose. The Internet has made the world so much smaller that stores from across the world are now in direct competition with one another and are forced to remain extremely competitive.