PROS / A small business working to reach out to the world with the power of the world wide web.
CONS / Its size prevents it from being competitive with such monstrous companies as Amazon.com.
VERDICT / The little online bookstore that could, Tatterd Cover may not be the biggest or best, but they are a great option for supporting local, independant book shops.
Tattered Cover could most closely be compared to Powell’s Books, as it is a small bookstore that has locations in only one city. Even with their similar backgrounds, comparing the two companies is a little like comparing a quaint country cottage to the Taj Mahal. Tattered Books is a very small company with a very small web presence. While the site is one of the lowest-ranked online bookstores reviewed here, they still play the role of the underdog who you can’t help but root for.
Everything Tattered Cover lacks can be improved upon as the company grows up, but the big heart of the little bookstore still makes it an attractive place to shop online.
The shop has a good selection of new titles and, in most cases, if they do not carry the title, they will be happy to special order it for you. Because they do not buy used books or allow third-party sellers, their only used books are collectible and autographed titles. The physical stores offer other merchandise, such as gifts, Tattered Cover merchandise and magazines, but if you wish to order these items without going to the shop, you will need to place your orders over the phone.
Those who spend a lot of time online may be able to recognize the fact that the site is operated on a blogging platform, which has allowed the company to easily create a basic, yet functional, site for a relatively low price. While it is nice that a smaller company has been able to create a website where they can sell books to readers throughout the world this way, it is unfortunate that the site platform is not compatible with wishlists or customer reviews –both of which are very useful in the online bookstore world.
With any luck, the store will do well and be able to afford a major redesign in the near future that will allow them to add in such basic functionalities. Sprucing up the site may also allow the staff to find more time to list non-book items to help allow shoppers to buy these items without having to call the shop.
At some point, the site also may even consider offering customers the chance to sell their used books, which, for now, is just not practical.
Another feature which may help the book pages would be the addition of professional reviews. This seems like something they may consider adding sooner rather than later because it is compatible with their current design.
Tattered Cover shop doesn’t offer free shipping, no matter how many books you order, but they do provide a great selection of options when it comes to shipping your items. Overnight, two-day, expedited and standard options are all available. If you live in the area, you may also order your titles for local pick up. One thing the site should add to make shopping simpler would be a basic shipping chart to allow customers to pre-plan their order prices before entering the checkout process.
One of the nicest aspects of the store is the staff’s friendly attitude, which becomes very obvious when you are interested in gift options. This is the only online bookstore of those reviewed that is happy to wrap your books for free.
The secure store takes all major credit cards, payments in person via check, payments over the phone (call ahead first), and gift cards. They do not currently offer coupon codes, but this is another feature that could easily be added if they upgrade their current system.
The store could benefit greatly through the addition of a FAQ area, which could easily be added to the site, even at its current inception. The store does offer excellent customer support through email, phone and in its stores though. This is one of the areas where its size does come as an advantage, as a small shop like this is willing to work much harder to be available to help answer customer questions.
A loyalty program may be a nice feature in the future, but is yet another thing that cannot currently perform on their existing website.
Tattered Cover does not list a return policy on their website, and with good reason –they do not have a standard return policy. You can return the title in person or through the mail and there is no restocking fee, but the return window deadline varies by title. Upon calling the store, you can learn that the window essentially varies by how popular the book is and you can inquire about the policy for a specific title. If it was a special order, there may be no returns, if the book was part of the Harry Potter series, you may have a lengthy deadline.
This lack of consistency is not good, but it seems like something that may be corrected as the shop gets larger.
Overall, Tattered Cover is a promising independent bookstore that may evolve into a bigger and better online shop. For now, the site is missing a number of important features, but their small size, excellent customer support and great attitude help make up for many of their shortcomings.
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