Thursday, 6 December 2007

International Book Shopping - Where is the Best Place to Buy?

Books are wonderful in their own right and they are also one of the most convenient items to ship anywhere in the world as a Christmas gift to far-flung family members and friends, especially when ordering on the Internet.

I have conducted a small shopping comparison using Amazon to see where is the cheapest and fastest place to buy and ship books, in this case to southeast Asia. Amazon has nine different websites listed here but I have compared only those of the UK, the USA and Canada.

The attached table shows the results of my survey with the green highlighted cells indicating the lowest cost or fastest delivery. When a non-Amazon seller offered a much cheaper book, that's what I picked, which means the Marketplace shipping rate would apply.

My observations:
  • none of the Amazon sites is best across the board
  • many prices are fairly close after the exchange rate is taken into account - a surprise given the huge swings in currencies these days - but there are significant differences for some books; it may be worth shopping around for a book.
  • the UK is far and away the best place for the fastest low cost shipping, and the only place from which one can still order to ensure delivery before Christmas, while Canada is just horrible - is that our pathetic postal system in operation?
Of course, your friendly credit card company will charge you a few percentage points to convert your purchase from a foreign currency back into your home billing currency, unless of course you are a citizen of the world and have credit/debit cards in multiple currencies. However, it may still be worth it. In the past, I have ordered a number of books through the UK website, paid in GBP for delivery to the UK, which were actually shipped from the USA and it all worked just fine.

So now we have international book arbitrage. Happy reading everyone.

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