Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Amazon.com vs Barnes and Noble.com
So, all you book bloggers out there are in the business of books, therefore, you probably buy quite a few books. I recently had some orders placed with Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble and decided I wanted to share my info/experience. Now, I understand that this probably won't apply to quite a few international book buyers as it won't work the same for you and you may not even have the option to buy from Barnes & Noble, so I'm sorry. Also, I understand that there are other places to buy books from, but I feel that these are 2 of the largest and the ones I use the most (especially since I have a Kindle). Lastly, this is my thoughts and feelings on this topic and as it applies to me and my physical location in Phoenix, Arizona. In December, for Christmas, I received several gift cards (2 Amazon & 2 Barnes & Noble). Usually I liked Barnes & Noble cards for books I wanted to buy in store and Amazon for the ones I could wait for and buy online, but I suddenly had a book buying epiphany. If I bought my Barnes & Noble books online too, I could get MORE books. Yes, I'd have to wait, but with my TBR closet stack building up and the library around the corner, there really wasn't an option, I'd buy online and wait.
Which brings me to my first topic, PRICE:
Comparing these two vendors, price wise, there isn't really anything to compare. Overall, they are pretty similar in pricing for young adult and adult books, give or take a couple pennies. When I was buying back in December, I found some YA books that were actually off by a dollar (more expensive at B&N) or so, but today I went through some of the books to be released this year and pricing ran the same. The only real difference being that because Amazon.com does not have an actual warehouse in most states they do not - currently - charge sales tax on the items they ship. This is one of my favorite things about Amazon - on items "sold and shipped by Amazon" - is that I don't have to pay any sales tax! Hoo rah!!
As there are Barnes and Nobles all over the state of Arizona (and most of the US), that's not so much an option. E-books, in comparison, were exactly the same price on both sites as they usually come directly from the publishing house (even if they are sold on the website itself). In addition, sales tax is paid on both sites for e-b00ks because it's sold and shipped directly by the publishing house. Of course, when thinking of pricing, we as book buyers think, how much are they going to charge me for shipping?
There are quite a few options for either site in this regard. I know on Amazon.com that if you are a Prime Member, you get unlimited two-day free shipping, no minimum purchase for as long as your Prime Membership lasts and your items are shipped to you as soon as they are available, meaning that if you ordered 4 books and 2 are pre-orders, they will ship the first 2 and ship the second 2 as they are published. However, to get a Prime membership, you have to fork over $79 per year. As I'm cheap, I most likely will never pay it.
At Barnes and Noble you can also purchase a membership with an annual fee of $25. It includes free express shipping in 1-3 days also with no minimum purchase for as long as your membership lasts. Also, you can use your membership in store and get a 10% discount on all books, 20% off all adult hardcovers and 40% off Hardcover bestsellers (mostly not applicable to online purchases). Although, I'd like you to take note that in store pricing still can't quite compete with online pricing (except possibly mass market paperbacks). Still, even though it's cheaper than Amazon's Prime membership, I'm still too cheap to purchase it (I usually borrow my mom's, LOL!).
Since I'm too cheap to purchase any kind of membership for better shipping prices and allowances, I go to my next option: Free Shipping on orders over $25. Now, most of the time, to me, there is no other option. I do not like to spend money on shipping. If I don't spend my money on shipping fees, I can spend it on more books. I don't have enough money to be spending it on shipping fees *phfff*...shipping fees...what are those??!! This issue right here, this "Free Shipping" is my main issue with these two stores. It's the issue that sets them apart from my purchasing of physical books (as my e-books mostly come from Amazon.com because of my Kindle).
Free Shipping to me may not cost me money wise, but time wise it definitely does. You see, back in the last week of December 2010 I ordered 5 books from B&N online with my gift cards. Because I ordered online and chose "Standard Shipping" (2-6 business days - supposedly) with the option "Send everything in as few packages as possible" I received free shipping, and was able to get that 5th book. However out of the 5 books I ordered, 1 was a pre-order (Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting). All the rest had already been released.
This is where I learned exactly what "Send everything in as few packages as possible" meant. I thought, hey, I'll get my four books and then they'll send my 5th book in Febrary on its release date. But, no, that is not what happened at all. I had to wait for ALL 5 BOOKS until February 15th, 2011, when all 5 books were then shipped to me. Then, to top it off, they shipped the books on February 15th and I did not get them delivered to my "house" until February 22nd, in the afternoon. As you can imagine, all this waiting, did not make me happy.
However, I have another story for you concerning "Free Shipping". The other day I received a $27 credit from Amazon.com for a Kindle skin I purchased for my Kindle (long story I'm not going to go into right now). I could therefore, use the credit to buy anything from Amazon.com as long as it was "sold and shipped" by Amazon. This does not include e-books, for your information, as they are sold and shipped by the publisher.
I, of course, used the credit to buy more books, like there was a choice *wink wink*. I proceeded to make my selection very carefully as my experience with B&N had taught me something about the "Free Shipping" features of online book buying. Now, Amazon's free shipping works similar to B&N's with a little difference I'll get to at the end. First I select " " (5-8 business days) which then automatically selects "Group my items into as few shipments as possible". Now, first of all, I'd learned a valuable lesson from B&N, if I wanted my books faster, either I ordered all books that had already been released or make sure the date on any pre-order books was close in reference to the date of order.
So, my books included, This Side of the Grave (Night Huntress No. 5), Demonglass (Hex Hall no.2) & (my pre-order) City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments No. 4). Because I'd included a pre-order I knew it wouldn't ship til its release date of April 5th, 2011. HOWEVER, and this is my FIRST difference between Amazon.com & B&N. My books shipped from Amazon.com on APRIL 4TH, 2011, a day before the actual release of the title!!!! Then, this is my SECOND difference between Amazon & B&N, instead of waiting the 8 (fricking!) days that B&N made me wait for my books to be delivered, I only had to wait 4 days and received them on April 7th, 2011 which was 2 days following its actual release. This made me very happy, indeed.
There are, of course, more options for shipping between the 2 vendors, but they cost money. In the end, I'm just going to give you a picture example for paid shipping to show the difference.
Here is my "order". It's over $25 worth of merchandise. You can see my choices.
These are the Amazon.com orders. The one on the left has grouped items in "Group my items into as few shipments as possible".
The one on the right has "I want my items faster. Ship them as they become available".
Both orders are for "faster shipping". (3-5 business days)
These green ones are the B&N.com orders. The one on the left has grouped items in "Group my items into as few shipments as possible".
The one on the right has "I want my items faster. Ship them as they become available". Both orders are for "faster shipping". (1-3 business days)
I know the days look different in terms of shipping and living on the west coast, I get my Amazon packages faster. B&N.com shipping is based out of Manhattan. I'm sure depending on where you live, shipping is going to totally vary, but this is shipping costs to me in AZ from both vendors.
Now, to kind of condense all of it, pricing between the two stores is mostly the same although there is no sales tax with Amazon (unless they have a warehouse in your state) and e-book pricing is the same between both stores because it's sold and shipped by the publisher. Membership wise, Barnes & Noble is cheaper, but their shipping isn't as good and Amazon's is more expensive due to their wide array of products sold and shipped (i.e. not just books or book products). As far as "Free Shipping" goes, both have a minimum purchase of $25.00 and both have similar selections to allow for actual "free shipping", BUT Amazon ships earlier and faster.
In conclusion, unless I want to buy a book directly from a physical store, I will be purchasing my books from Amazon.com because I like their shipping better and their no sales-tax and if it ever comes down to pricing, they always beat out Barnes & Noble.