Friday, July 17, 2009


It has been far too long since we trolled the Alleywebs looking for the opium dens of the bibliophile. (how long? this long) This site was offered by the Readership, and your humble narrator has gotten to the vettin'. Could this be more overwritten? I think we both know it certainly could.

What's the hook?
Bah-gins bah-gins
Absurdly low prices: most under 5 dollars, with a "You save x%" statement under each title.

Anything good?
Well.... no.

They are advertising a KIDS CLOSEOUT at the moment - 7000 titles with an extra 50% off. They present in alpha-order, so it is not entirely fair to complain about "10 rules of dating" or "AAA Family Travel Journal." So I searched for the classic and the contemporary.

Charlotte's Web? Yes - lots of versions and editions, lots of price ranges, but still mostly under $10.
L.A Candy? No, and the matches it offered instead were very odd.

This list is about as compelling as the audio download at my local library. Big title count, not much selection.

Who are these people?
They don't say. They are in Thorhold, Ontario, and they are certainly a dealer in returns and damages. Click the "Scratch and Dent" area to enjoy more savings, though you can not be certain whether it is a scratch or a dent.

Better than Books a Million or Buck a Book or Building 19?
Doesn't appear so, but certainly no worse. And if you are in Ontario or New York, this is probably easier to get to.

Any cool features?
You know, it isn't easy to be a cool book title search website. I think Goodreads does this nearly as well as Netflix does movies, but to my mind there are 2 ways to buy books: direct search for what you want - card catalog style - and these sites are good for that. Or you want to browse, and I don't think any website is good for that. Book browsing is still too physical an activity for this to replace it

ya gotta have a gimmick.

Like being able to dump my discards there?
YES! An excellent example, thank you. No drop off/trade-in program here. Check other posts under the "For the Booklovers" category for those.

Still, seems like a great deal on books, doesn't it?
Not entirely sure. You can not purchase without an account, and the shipping charges are not offered ahead of checkout. So I can not prove how much the 6.99 copy of Charlotte's Web really comes to.

And honestly, don't you have Charlotte's Web? If you are giving Charlotte's Web to a kid, don't get one with a magic marker stripe down the side.

Can customer service answer questions about shipping charges, US sales taxes, and other hidden charges on my bargain book?
The customer service model (weekdays, business hours) and the site map signal a sort of "let's put on a website" vibe that might be part of the BARGAIN image, or just Canadian niceness. There are no FAQS, and tech service is only available by email. It also feels a little home-schooly, which is probably its major market.

I don't think they are hiding anything; I just think they want to get to know you before they become your book discounter.

So go in eyes open. And compare to used copies on Amazon, which will be in similar condition.
Inter-library loan is a pretty cool service too.

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