Buying books online

24 May

Living in Germany last year changed me.

Not necessarily in mysterious internal kinds of ways: what it changed VERY tangibly, though, was my shopping habits.

I buy a lot of books. Let me rephrase that: I buy a LOT of books. I am not good at libraries, because for some reason they expect me to give the books back, and I don’t like that. Books are my friends and I like to keep the good ones close. Every time I try to join a library, even the one just up the road from home, I end up racking up enormous late fines. Also, our local library does not seem to be good at stocking series, so I have to order the third book in a series on Inter-library loan from Library A and the fourth on Inter-library loan from Library B, and then I end up buying the fifth book and what good is the fifth book if you don’t have all the others so then I buy them anyway and OMG it cost me MORE because I had to pay $1.20 for the inter-library loans and … well, it isn’t pretty.

And I do like to read.

And I read fast, so a book a night is not really unusual, even if it means I sit up till 2am reading.

Yes, there are possible some issues with self-discipline there. 🙂


Book prices in Australia are astronomical. And they were not astronomical in Germany. Even for English-language books.

So I bought quite a few books in Germany. Generally, new books, for less than I would pay here for second-hand books.

And then I came home, and I went shopping one sunny day, and I wandered into a book shop, and I nearly had a conniption on the spot, if you can do that with a conniption, because OMG the chick lit novel I was eyeing cost THIRTY TWO DOLLARS.

For a book.

And I realised how very much I must have spent on my bajillion or so books over the years. Even the ones that did not cost THIRTY TWO DOLLARS.

And I noted the name of the book, and I went home, and I looked on, and yea verily the book was going to cost me about TWELVE dollars plus whatever share of E14 postage it worked out to.

And so over the next few months when I saw books I wanted, I made a mental note of the name and I virtuously came home and bookmarked them on or added them to my ever-growing shopping cart … and eventually I ordered about thirty books all in one go and then read them greedily as they arrived … and then looked around and wondered where all the new books had gone. Must be time to order more.

The only place I regularly shop for books in Australia now is the specialist science fiction & fantasy shop. They send us catalogues and ring when our standing orders are in. And I like to support small businesses. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling that I am not singlehandedly bringing about the demise of the book trade in Australia by evilly taking my orders offshore.

Oh, and Kmart. Where I buy Belle the Birthday Fairy and sundry assorted similar for Otto, who devours each new book in about half an hour and then starts counting down the days until the next one appears.

And then I told this story at a function at school and one of the mums told me about – and now I do not know whether I love her or I weep a little when I think of her. Because their prices on English books are EVEN LOWER than the prices at – and they include “free” postage anywhere in the world.

The problem with this is – well, there are many problems.

Because with, I did not pre-order books because it might mess with the very expensive flat-rate shipping. I merely bookmarked or wishlisted them for later.

And with, I added lots of books but then I went through and culled them before I placed my big order.

But with, I do not need to do that. Because even if I order only one teeny tiny book, it still costs OMGSOMUCHLESS – but if I am ordering one in a series I may as well get the rest of the series and then … oops.

And both sites store my credit card number so all I need to know is the secret 3-digit code (which I accidentally learnt by heart) and off goes my order.

I have considered those sites where you swap books. But a standard pre-paid envelope costs $5.90 or so, and some of these books only cost $7 NEW. And I can OMGKEEP them.

I suspect that the answer is probably ebay. Selling the books on ebay after I read them, I mean.

But that would require getting over myself to the extent of being able to get rid not only of books that I loathe and despise, but also of books that I quite enjoyed but probably will not necessarily re-read.

I did propose a new bookshelving arrangement to Fraser, that would allow us to store around 33 linear meters of books where we currently store 23. He frowned and glared at me, because he saw it as part of my Grand Ulterior Plan to get rid of his ugly bookshelves from our corridor. It honestly was not, but I don’t think he’ll believe me.

Which leads me to my new plan.

  1. Win the lottery
  2. Buy a holiday house
  3. Store books there.

I think this plan is a keeper.


Posted by on May 24, 2010 in books, shopping


7 responses to “Buying books online

  1. Gerald

    May 24, 2010 at 10:18 am

    I LOVE my kindle. I’m on travel right now, and have about 50 books with me at this time, many of which are free classics I missed reading in my younger life and am enjoying now. Also, I like to be reading several books at the same time, switching among them as my interest varies. So, this ereader is perfect for me. Certainly is solving my bookshelf space problem at home, and is so easy to take everywhere with me. I expect to rarely buy a printed book in the future. Can you tell I’m happy with it?? — And, no, before you ask, I do not work for Amazon….

  2. Friendless

    May 24, 2010 at 11:14 am

    bookdepository is evil. I’m just about to get on the bus to the AF library. It’ll cost me maybe $3.20 in bus fares. I can have a Maigret novel delivered to my house for less than $10 and I get to keep it for more than a month. It’s revolutionary. The parcel delivery guy came to our house 4 days out of 5 last week.

    In other news, yes, Europe is astonishingly cheap for books. I ordered 19 items from including many novels and a few movies, for $213. I couldn’t go to Angus and Robertson and get 19 kids books for $213. That was about 90 Euros cover price and 50 Euros shipping. If only bookdepository had a wider range, I’d be screwed.

  3. Maurice

    May 28, 2010 at 7:15 am

    Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, why did you tell me about
    And I even could have gotten that FF game I was looking for for my Secret Santa last year.

    How many books can I add to the wishlist there?

    • Melissa

      May 30, 2010 at 8:30 pm

      LOL! You are not the first person to tell me off for sharing that link.

  4. yewenyi

    May 30, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    you should not sell the books. Maybe you need to buy a country property with lots of room for a big library? Something you can make of stone?

    • Melissa

      May 30, 2010 at 8:29 pm

      Brian – I already tried that with Fraser. He wasn’t convinced.


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