Back in January I shared my goals for 2021, one of which was to buy no physical books from Amazon. This is something I’ve stuck to, so today I thought I’d talk about where I do get my books from!
First thing’s first, though: I’m in the UK, I have a full time job and I’m currently in the very lucky position of not having to pay any rent thanks to my parents letting me move back in during lockdown. This means I’m in the very privileged position of having the funds to buy books, and being able to pay a little extra if Amazon is the cheapest option, and also means it’s not very hard for me to get my hands on the books I want. Not to mention the brilliant selection at my local library which saves me from buying some books altogether!
As I mentioned in my goals post, it’s not like I’m not giving Amazon any money at all. I have a kindle and I do still buy quite a lot of kindle books – who can resist a good deal when a book you’ve wanted for ages is suddenly 99p? – but when it comes to physical books, I wanted to make sure I’m getting them elsewhere. Specifically from bookshops, or from sites that support them! So, without further ado, let’s look at some of the places I’ve bought books from in the past year…
Probably the UK’s best known chain bookshop! There’s nothing quite as comforting as spending an hour or two wandering around your local Waterstones, and their booksellers are always fantastic and deserve to be paid more. I don’t tend to use Waterstones as often as I use other retailers when I’m shopping online because you only get free delivery with them if you spend over £25, which can be a bit of a pain if you’re only after one book but is great if you’re willing to do a bulk buy of Christmas presents. Over the past few years, though, they’ve been publishing a lot of exclusive editions, usually with very pretty sprayed edges, which means I don’t mind spending a little extra for something extra special – and once there’s one book in my basket, I might as well add another for the free delivery! I do also appreciate their Waterstones Plus stamp cards, where you earn a stamp for every £10 you spend and ten stamps gives you £10 credit. It means having to spend quite a bit of money with them first, of course, but if you were to order Christmas presents for your bookish family and friends in bulk, you’d probably end up with £10 credit to treat yourself with.
Blackwell’s are another UK chain bookshop which are probably best known for stocking academic books – they’re often the bookshops you’ll find on university campuses, but they do sell pretty much any book you’re after. What I love about ordering with them online is that there’s usually a discount on the books themselves and you get free delivery in the UK if you set up an account with them! I’m easily won over by free delivery, and it’s nice to know I’m supporting a chain of actual bookshops rather than Amazon when I order here.
Bookshop is a new site that was set up in the US and UK last year to support indie bookshops, and it’s been doing very well! Indie bookshops that are partnered with Bookshop earn a 30% commission on the sales they generate and 10% of all other sales go into a pool that’s evenly divided between them. Obviously, if you can, it’s still great to just order directly from your indie bookshop, but it’s great that Bookshop exists and that they’re actively promoting themselves as an alternative to Amazon. The only thing missing for me is free delivery over a certain price, which I think would encourage even more people to buy books through them. For example, I spent just under £40 buying Christmas presents from Bookshop and still had to pay delivery on top of that. Is it the end of the world? No, and I’d never want to discourage anyone from using Bookshop, but it’s also nice to get free delivery on a bulk order!
Hive are fairly similar to Bookshop in that they support indie bookshops! When you place an order with Hive you can choose which indie bookshop you’d like to support, no matter where they are in the UK, and they’ll receive at least 10% commission, which rises to 25% if you choose to pick up the order from that shop – although, in my opinion, if you’re going to that shop anyway, you might as well support them in full! Unlike Bookshop, though, Hive do offer free delivery in the UK on all orders.
I don’t tend to use Wordery as much anymore – not now that I can support indies through Hive or a chain through Blackwell’s – but they’re a company I began using when Amazon bought Book Depository because, you guessed it, they offer free delivery in the UK and the books are often discounted. I’ll still use them from time to time if they happen to be offering the cheapest price outside of Amazon but, for the most part, I prefer to buy my books directly from bookshops or from the sites that support indies.
This indie bookshop in York, which specifically sells SFF and LGBT+ books, is probably my favourite independent bookshop. Sadly I haven’t lived anywhere near York for years, but I try to pop into the shop whenever I visit the city and I like to pre-order my queer fantasy from them online. The staff are so helpful and communicative and, if there’s an LGBT+ or SFF book you’re after, they’ll make sure they have it to order if you tell them about it!