Shopping for books online helps you find the best possible price for just about any book you want. If you’re in the market for rare, collectible or autographed books, it’s much cheaper and faster to search online than it would be to call up local used and independent bookstores that carry these types of items.
The features available on many online bookstores also allow you to compare similar titles with the click of a mouse and read reviews from professionals and customers. You can also resell your used books to get more cash in your pocket and to clear out your cluttered bookshelf. It’s never been easier to ensure you never get stuck with a crummy title again.
If you’ve decided to start buying books online, it’s important to recognize what features make one store better than another. Even if you find a book you want for a great price on one site, it may still be better to pay a little extra to purchase it from a more reputable source. A quality online bookstore will have a good product selection, an easy-to-use -yet comprehensive- website, a variety of shipping options, a number of payment options, excellent customer support and a strong return policy.
A good product selection is critical to any online bookstore. Every store reviewed has an array of new book titles from all genres, but the thing that makes one store stand out above another is their willingness to sell other items like used books, collectible books and other merchandise like CDs and DVDs. Additionally, some of the best sites allow customers to sell their own books on the site.
An easy-to-use website is important for customers who want to get their shopping done quickly and efficiently. On the other hand, providing guests with a plethora of options and features can only be a good thing -as long as the site remains easy to navigate. Some of the most important things reviewed were the site’s search features, browsing capabilities, store locator, sales, wishlist functionalities and the ability of customers to read reviews on the books they are looking for.
When you order a book, you may want it to arrive as soon as possible or you may want to pay the least possible for shipping. Sometimes, you may want to balance these two needs against each other and end up somewhere in the middle. That’s why the online bookstores were judged on the number of shipping options offered. Some sites offer free shipping when you order enough merchandise, which is always a nice touch. On the other hand, it is also important they offer fast shipping, international shipping and ground shipping. If the store has physical locations, they may also offer local pick up. Some places will even wrap your gift books and send them with a gift receipt and note for a marginal fee. Just as important as a variety of shipping options is how the shipping is calculated and the ability for shoppers to research the cost of shipping before they place an order.
Because online bookstores cannot accept cash like physical bookstores, it is important that they offer a variety of payment options to suit all potential customers. Most stores took Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express, but when it comes to other payment options, your choices can vary greatly based on where you are shopping. Some stores will let you do bank account transfers, or use PayPal or Google Checkout, while others let you pay in store. Additionally, some places allow customers to purchase gift certificates and use promotional discounts, while others are not so generous.
As with any store, customer support can make or break a business. In the case of online bookstores, it is most important for them to offer an array of contact methods since you often cannot visit the company in person. Additionally, most sites offer a helpful FAQ section to let users find the answers to their most common questions without having to call or email a support representative.
When it comes to returning a book through the mail, the longer you have to return the item, the better. Also, it is nice when the company is willing to pay for the item’s return shipping or at least let you return the item in a physical store. Some stores choose to take full advantage of those who return their items by charging customers a small restocking fee.
When you’re considering which online bookstores to visit, it is very important to keep these factors in mind. Just because a company offers a great price on an item doesn’t mean it’s a steal once you learn about their expensive shipping rates or terrible customer service. That’s why it’s always so important to do your research before you buy. Start with our review of Amazon.com.
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