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The Mystery of Prices

April 23, 2013

I frequently buy books from  Book Depository is reasonably fast (most purchases arrive within a week), offers free shipping to pretty nearly anywhere, and features prices that are often better than Amazon.  (Book Depository ships from the UK, but books are exempt from customs in the US.  Unlike Amazon, they do not collect sales tax.)

However, getting the best price on Book Depository is a bit of an art.  From the US, Book Depository hasat least two web sites: and  (The latter URL will redirect you to the .com site at first.  But the second time in the row ones goes to that URL, it will send you to .)  The .com and web sites feature significantly different prices on many books.  I wish I could tell you that one web site was consistently cheaper than the other, but I have found no significant pattern.

Interestingly, I get a third set of prices when connecting through a UK proxy.  Book Depository from the UK makes it easy to get pricing in $US (simply slide down the currency selection in the upper right hand corner, and pay with Paypal, for example), and the prices are often even cheaper than or from a US IP address.  Also, it turns out that many books that are listed as “unavailable” from the US web site are easily available from the UK web site.

Especially when purchasing books that are only available in UK editions or scholarly books, the pricing at Book Depository is often very attractive.   I’ve generally had good service from them.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 24, 2013 2:45 am

    Example from a book I ordered Monday: The Oxford History of English, Updated Edition in paperback.

    * Amazon price: $22.08 + possible sales tax and shipping
    * price (US IP address): $22.54 (free shipping worldwide)
    * price (US IP address): $22.21 (free shipping worldwide)
    * price (UK IP address): $20.81 (free shipping worldwide)

    I realize that the price differences here are only about 10%, but I’ve seen differences of up to 30% in the past.

    Here is an example of a book (I ordered this Sunday) that is unavailable from Book Deposoritory from US IP addresses, but is available from UK IP addresses: the Gollancz omnibus edition of Brian Aldiss’s Helliconia trilogy.

    * Amazon: cheapest new copy available from “the_book_depository” for $18.35 + 3.99 shipping
    * price (US IP address): Unavailable
    * price (US IP address): Unavailable
    * price (UK IP address): $17.44 (free shipping worldwide)

    By “free shipping worldwide” Book Depository means these 120 countries and territories. Some notable exceptions: African states (except South Africa); some large Muslim states in Asia (especially Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and Yemen); and — among states with populations over 16 million — Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, Sri Lanka, and Venezuela.

  2. April 26, 2013 2:19 pm

    Good to know. Often have to get English history books from Book Depository.

  3. June 22, 2013 12:45 pm

    It’s also work noting that and sometimes (but not always) have different prices.

    Plus sometimes, surprisingly, one of the other Amazon stores (.com/.de/ turns out to be the cheapest, even with the shipping costs.

    I built a little comparison tool a little while ago for just this purpose (as a weekend project):

  4. October 22, 2013 12:12 am

    Hi, would you be so kind as to teach me how to change the IP address?

  5. June 13, 2014 12:10 pm

    By fooling the site into thinking I’m in UK, I can see that the Greek prices are a few GBP higher depending on book weight. Up to 15 GBP in some big hardcover books. Just about right for international mail. In one book the price is 30GBP for UK customers and 45GBP for Greek customers.


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