On April 4, the international book community went in mourning when Book Depository announced that it was closing at the end of the month. Readers have until midday, April 26, 2023 to buy any books from them before it shuts down. For international readers, this news is far from welcome: for over 20 years, a countless number of us have relied on Book Depository’s enormous catalogue and, more importantly, free shipping to get a good portion of our books. So what happens now? Are there any truly comparable Book Depository alternatives?
As one of those readers, my reaction was two-fold: a) I immediately started channeling Joey Tribbiani and wondering WHY GOD WHY? WE HAD A DEAL, and b) how on earth am I going to maintain access to all the books I want? I’m lucky that there are two English-language bookstores in my area, but the selection is hardly the same. And after my lone purchase of a single book through Amazon over a decade ago, and finding that the shipping was far more expensive than the book itself, I stopped using any and all stores that weren’t Book Depository for my international book buying needs.
Cut to me frantically googling “Book Depository alternatives” (and making a pro-con list with my findings, because of course I did). What I have since learned is that, unfortunately, when most online bookstores say “free shipping worldwide,” they rarely mean it in the way we as buyers understand it. It’s either “free (not counting taxes)” or “worldwide (by which we mean a tiny percentage of all the countries in the world).” So, it was back to the drawing board for me.
Eventually, I found a few options. If you’re in the same boat, and you’re also wondering how to keep your book habit sustained, I’ve got you. Most of these do not have free shipping, nor do they ship globally, more’s the pity. But they ship to a fairly decent amount of countries, and for the most part, they’re quite affordable. Ready to find some new suppliers for all your international book purchases? Read on.
Like Book Depository, this is a U.K.-based online bookstore with supposedly free global shipping. Alas, by “global,” they truly mean “fewer than 40 countries.” If you’re in one of those countries, however, this is a great alternative.
I didn’t set out to include primarily U.K.-based bookshops, but best laid plans, right? Waterstones, and its academic and specialized cousin Blackwell’s, have huge selections, and they truly do ship almost worldwide. It is pricy, however — international shipping prices start at £10. Still, it is nowhere near as expensive as Amazon, and it has very good reviews, so it made the cut.
Better World Books
Better World Books really seems to live up to the hype, and it has a decent chance of becoming my new online bookstore of choice. Based in the United States, it ships to a great deal of countries at either $1.49 for orders under $15, or free for orders over $15. Acquired by Better World Libraries in 2019, it donates both books and a percentage of its profits to literacy programs.
World of Books
If you love second hand books as much as I do, keep an eye on World of Books or, as its logo proclaims, Wob. It doesn’t ship worldwide, but it does offer affordable shipping to a decent number of countries, plus free shipping within the U.K., and it has a nice selection of over seven million books.
Offering both new and used books, AwesomeBooks offers affordable shipping to a variety of countries across Europe, North America, and part of Asia. International shipping starts at £3.
Pro: it has free shipping worldwide. Con: because they deal with a variety of providers worldwide, the books themselves can be rather expensive, and they can take up to a month to arrive to their destination. Still, and I apologize for being repetitive, I feel that free shipping worldwide, and they do mean free shipping worldwide, makes it well and truly worth it.
A great online bookstore of used books, they offer affordable international shipping (less than $8) to multiple countries. I love their selection.
Hopefully, one of these Book Depository alternatives tickles your fancy, but if you’re wondering about some other places to buy books from, I’ve got you.