Saturday, March 12, 2005

Amazon vs. Alibris: No Contest

In January this year I ordered two books from Alibris, an online bookstore based in the US. The coveted items finally arrived this week, almost seven weeks later.

Last year, I ordered two books from Amazon, another [far more popular] US-based online store. Those books arrived ten days later.

Why the discrepancy?

Alibris tell me it takes "up to four weeks for books delivered via the Standard International Shipping method I had selected", and that the time lapse is due to "Customs", whatever that entails. (Seems time they reviewed their maths here.)

So, in actuality: seven weeks? For a couple of books? Amazon quoted 12 to 20 days for the same thing, then bettered it.

Considering that Alibris also stuffed a bookmark into each package, stamped with a "$1 off your next purchase" coupon that expired two weeks ago, and they won't replace this, I know where I'll be buying next time.

On a related note, Amazon now have an express shipping membership package, Amazon Prime, which, for $79 USD a year, will give me as many items as I want direct to my doorstep within two days of purchase. This is actually great value, if "Express Shipping" is the same as "Priority International Courier" for Australian customers, as the shipping charge on a single book shipped that way would be $31.98 USD ($24.99 shipment charge + $6.99 item charge). A couple of individual book purchases and you've nearly spent that anyway.

[Can you tell that I love online shopping?]

1 comment:

Chuck Gregory said...

Alibris is a network of dealers, as is Abebooks; Amazon is a seller in its own right, that also provides access to some other dealers' merchandise. You are comparing the proverbial apple and orange.

I haven't read the fine print on the new Amazon program, but I think the deal applies only to products Amazon is selling directly. They are so big that they can ship in bulk at a lower price--and they gain a competitive advantage over those of us who list items on their site.

I'm affiliated with All Books and Records, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. We prefer to ship directly to customers, wherever they are, and on international shipments we only ship by air. We typically add $3 handling to the postage we have to pay. It's fair to everybody.

Froogle can help you find the books you want. Amazon is a bit like Wal-Mart--big and strong and ruthless. The small independent sellers deserve your business and can often provide the same or better product at a competitive price.