Whether you’re looking for new or used books or looking to get into the business of selling books online, the largest and most well-known online booksellers — names you may already recognize — are the first places to turn.
While there is some variation in the experience online bookselling venues offer their customers and the fees they charge their sellers, the selection doesn’t vary much. The third-party new and used sellers you find one site often sell on the other sites as well.
For buyers, that means personal preference is the biggest factor in determining where you shop for books online. For sellers, offering items on as many sales venues as possible is the best course of action.
For more specifics, here’s a look at each of the top online booksellers along with a few comments for both buyers and sellers:
No matter how inexperienced someone is with online booksellers, it’s hard to imagine anyone who doesn’t know about Amazon. Once only for books, the site is now the first place to turn for DVDs, electronic books, digital downloads and a variety of other products including tools, health and beauty products and electronics.
For buyers, new books are available directly from Amazon and from a network of independent marketplace sellers, some of whom offer better prices than Amazon itself. This network of third-party sellers also offers used books. No sales venue has more third-party sellers than Amazon.
For sellers, no sales venue can boast more buyers than Amazon. While fees to sell on the Amazon site are among the highest in the industry, the company provide a large number of buyers ready to make purchases. That makes Amazon the default selling platform for many sellers.
To buy from this site, visit Amazon now.
To learn about selling on Amazon, visit Sell Your Stuff As An Individual Seller.
Once an independent venue, AbeBooks has been an Amazon subsidiary since December 2008. The site was founded in 1995 by two Canadian couples and was a pioneer in online bookselling. The company has cultivated a reputation for attracting the most conscientious sellers and the most finicky buyers.
For buyers, AbeBooks seems to offer a greater array of hard-to-find and out-of-print titles than Amazon, so it’s a good second place to look when the right book is elusive.
For seller, slow sales at AbeBooks may make it impractical to include the site among your sales venues. While placing your items on AbeBooks could mean an initial spike in sales as obscure titles sell off, the sales volume on this site may not justify its high fees and monthly inventory charges.
To buy from this site, visit AbeBooks now.
To learning about selling on this site, explore the site’s Sell Books page.
Alibris is a truly independent site that offers new and used books, movies and music and caters to those looking for rare and collectible titles. Online since 1998, Alibris presents its customers with inventory from thousands of sellers (many of whom also sell on Amazon, AbeBooks and other sales venues) and has proven itself to be a reputable company.
For buyers, Alibris is unlikely to offer anything you won’t find on Amazon, so there’s little reason to give much attention to Alibris.
For sellers, there’s nothing to lose since the Alibris Basic program offers a way to sell on the site with no monthly fee and per-transaction fees similar to Amazon. While the site has relatively few buyers compared to Amazon, it still offers many sellers a strong sales platform.
To buy from this site, visit Alibris now.
To learn about selling on this site, explore the site’s Sellers page.
Barnes and Noble
Barnes and Noble claims to be the Internet’s largest bookstore, a title similar to one Amazon has claimed at times. No matter whether it’s the biggest or not, it has the advantage of being associated with the company’s bricks-and-mortar stores.
For buyers, the company makes it easy to order a book by visiting one of its stores, and the site and the stores interacts in other ways as well. The site’s third-party offerings were once just Alibris offering rebranded, but Barnes and Noble now runs its own seller marketplace.
For sellers, the Barnes and Noble selling program is free of monthly fees and offers lower per-transaction fees than Amazon, Alibris or AbeBooks. Sales on this venue are generally slow, but since it costs nothing to list and payments come every week, there’s no downside to selling on the Barnes and Noble website .
To buy from this site, visit Barnes and Noble now.
To learn about selling on this site, explore the BN.com Marketplace.
Half.com (and eBay)
Once an important force among online booksellers, Half.com has declined in recent years. Its history is long and sordid. First an independent company, it was purchased very early on by eBay. After it declined in popularity, eBay announced that the site would close and be rolled into eBay’s main site. Without explanation, however, the site never closed.
For buyers, Half.com is a simple and easy-to-use platform. It also presents eBay offerings for a title when they’re available. That saves searching through eBay’s complex navigation structure for the desired book.
For sellers, Half.com offers a per-transaction fee similar to Barnes and Noble and does not charge a monthly fee. In addition, Half.com transactions count toward a seller’s eBay feedback, an important plus for those wanting to establish a solid feedback history on eBay.
To buy from this site, visit Half.com now.
To learn about selling on Half.com, go to the site’s Sell my stuff page.
It’s questionable whether Biblio belongs in a discussion of major online booksellers because it has declined significantly in recent years. Started in 2000 as a price comparison engine, it became a sales venue in 2003.
For buyers today, Biblio presents no advantage over buying on any other sales platform.
For sellers, Biblio charges no monthly fee and charges transactions fees that are similar to Barnes and Noble and Half.com, so there’s no reason not to list on Biblio. Sales are sporadic, but the site pays as agreed.
To buy from this site, visit Biblio now.
To learn about selling on this site, explore the site’s Selling Books page.
A Final Word
Books are one of the easiest things to successfully order online, and that’s because the selling venues that offer them have years of experience satisfying customers.
While independent sellers like to complain about these giants and their impact on bookselling in general, everyone who sells books online is dependent on them.
Online booksellers, like all online businesses, succeed when they satisfy their customers. That’s something all of these sales venues and their independent sellers know and try to do every day and with every transaction.