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17 best alternatives to Amazon for buying books online

I’m the first to admit that I’ll order from Amazon when I can’t find something I need locally, but for books, I use alternatives to Amazon as often as possible.

A lot of my book-loving friends want to do that, too. Turns out we have plenty of options — at least 17, in fact.

Here’s a list of those offering new books, including current best-sellers. This compilation and accompanying infographic do not include textbook or used-books-only retailers, though.

Alternatives to Amazon for books

I’ve listed online book retailers in alphabetical order. Note that some sell audiobooks exclusively.

alternatives to Amazon 2
Share this infographic with your book-loving fans and friends.

1. Alibris

Have a Rakuten account? You’ll get 2.5% back on purchases. (You don’t? Sign up with my referral link, spend a little money, and we’ll both get a cash gift!)

2. Apple Books

Read or listen to books on all of your Apple devices.

3. AudioBooks.com

Get three books free when you start a free trial.

4. Barnes & Noble

If there’s a Barnes & Noble in your area, you can buy online and pick up in store, too. That saves wondering through the store looking for the book you want – and spending more than you might have intended.

5. BetterWorldBooks

Get new and used books plus 2.5% back with Rakuten.

6. Blackwells

The popular UK retailer also delivers to the U.S.

7. Books-A-Million (BAM)

Founded in 1917, this retailer with brick-and-mortar stores is the second largest bookseller in the U.S. (And there’s that 2.5% back with Rakuten, too.)

8. Bookshop

This is my go-to site because it’s powered by indie retailers. Got a preference for a specific independent bookstore? Bookshop lets you select them for your order.

9. Chirp

I love Chirp because I can buy audiobooks without a monthly subscription. But I also appreciate the daily emails that alert me to discounted audiobooks in the genres and categories I read.

10. Downpour

This subscription-based audiobook retailer offers a free trial.

11. Google Play

Read or listen to books on your Android device.

12. Kobo

Buy books for the Kobo e-reader and as a bonus, get up to 5% back on purchases from Rakuten, which owns the company.

13. Libro.fm

Buy audiobooks from your favorite indie bookstore either through a subscription plan or ala carte.

14. Powell’s Books

This brick-and-mortar bookseller with an impressive online shop is Portland, Oregon’s top attraction.

15. Target

Don’t laugh. When my youngest is home, we always swing through Target’s book department because the discounts are good. She points out what she’s read and liked; I photograph the covers and add them to my to-be-read list. The selection online is much, much larger.

16. The Strand

This Manhattan institution has a strong online retail operation. I love wandering through this store that’s been in business since 1927.

17. Wordery

This fast-growing online bookshop offers more than 10 million books and free delivery to more than 100 countries. Get 3% cash back with Rakuten.

Don’t forget your library

Public libraries are such a gift to book lovers.

Unlike with print books that you have to pick up in person, you can borrow e-books and audiobooks online without ever walking into the building.

My public library system, like so many others, uses the Libby app for that. Download the app, find your library, sign in with your library card, and start searching. Borrowing is one-click easy.

This isn’t a comprehensive list of new book retailers, so what isn’t on it that should be? Where do you like to buy books online? Please tell us in a comment.

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16 Comments

    1. Thanks, Daniel. I did. Selection is limited — authors have to add their books and most don’t, of course — and the site isn’t well-designed. I think it’s better suited for self-published authors looking for a home to send their readers to than it is for readers themselves. What’s your take?

      Sandy

    1. You’re welcome! And thanks for your positive words about my first infographic! (Phew!)

      Sandy

  1. Help small publishers and their authors by buying books directly from the publisher’s website. Without the vendor fees to pay, authors make more money. Service is personalized, fast, and friendly.

  2. Hi Sandra:

    Thanks for the info on where to buy books besides Amazon. Now, any ideas on where to SELL books online other than Amazon? I’m in desperate need of an alternative. Here’s why:

    Amazon misclassifies my Dad’s WWII memoir, “Two Steps from Glory,” as a religious book because its search bot focuses on the word, “glory,” and completely ignores the book’s subtitle (“A WWII Liaison Pilot Confronts Jim Crow and the Enemy in the South Pacific”) which makes it clear that this is NOT a book about religion at all.

    In an effort to correct this problem, I’ve written Amazon many times asking them to change the bot-supplied keywords and, as recommended, I always provide a list of specific terms more accurately aligned with the true subject matter of the book.

    Amazon reps then correct the keywords and Dad’s book—now properly listed in categories such as WWII memoirs, liaison pilots, civil rights, or war in the Pacific—sells like hotcakes. I can barely keep up with the orders.

    But within days, the search bot overrides our work, reclassifies the book as a religious one, and sends our sales plummeting to zero once more.

    Having been through this cycle at least FOUR TIMES, I am truly at my wits end, so my question is this:

    Do ALL online sellers let the bots rule as Amazon does? Or is there a site where the HUMANS are in control, not the algorithms? I can’t sell a book no one can find.

    Beyond frustrated,
    Karyn

    1. Is it available on BN.com? Still, since most people who buy books online discover and buy them on Amazon, I wouldn’t spend a lot of time investigating where else to sell it unless you’re doing a major marketing push that will drive traffic to the book’s page on an alternative retailer.

      Sandy

  3. Great list! Glad to have so many good options. IndieBound is my go-to to order through a local indie bookstore. It functions like a search engine in listing indies by zip code that carry or can order the book. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for the tip, Valerie! I’m making a note of that for the next update. I use Bookshop.org for that, but I’m happy there’s another source, too.

      Sandy

  4. This is a good list. I would add “Independent Book stores” Most independent bookstores have an online ordering system as well, and shopping local supports the local economy!

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