Friday, February 2, 2018

Where to buy second hand books online : My Shopping Experience at Thriftbooks.com

I cannot exactly remember where and how I discovered Thrift Books. The least I can recall was my attempt to search for cheaper copies of Nick Bantock's Griffin and Sabine's Trilogy. Local bookstores offer each book in the series for Php 900 (around $ 18). Meanwhile, second hand copies from Thrift Books ranged from $ 3 to 7. I didn't think twice then. I purchased the books and it was another happy shopaholic story. :) 



What exactly is Thrift Books? As the name suggests, it offers the cheapest deals for second hand books. While I can always go to local shops such as Book Sale or Book for Less, Thrift Books had me over the widest selections. Almost all titles I have in mind have second hand copies. 

The site is based in USA and offers worldwide shipping. You can find details of their shipping costs here. Each book shipped to countries outside USA and Canada costs $ 4.99 for standard shipping and $ 9.99 for expedite. It might appear expensive especially when purchasing a number of books. In some cases, I found shipping costs exceeding the actual price of the book. Sounds quite unreasonable but paying $ 4.99 for direct shipping to the Philippines, is way better than hiring a cargo forwarder like Johnny Air or Shipping Cart.

When I first tried Thrift Books, shipping costs were dependent on the number of suppliers that sourced the book. I acquired 4 books that fortunately originated from one supplier. Hence, shipping costs were consolidated. On my second attempt, the two books I acquired came from two different suppliers.  In effect, more expensive. This was the system I encountered two years ago. Currently, it was modified to 1 book = 1 shipping fee.

Other than the widest selection, I love Thrift Books' system of classifying books according to its condition. You can save more if appearance doesn't matter much from your end. :p



The real test for Thrift Books boils down on the duration of its delivery. The sought after question, how about the waiting game? This is unfortunately, the weakness or should I say, point for improvement. Under standard shipping, Thrift Books gave an estimate of 15 to 20 days. During my first purchase, the books arrived after three months. Yes, you read it right, three long months of waiting. I was occupied with work so I completely forgot about the books. Months after my purchase, I received a parcel notification from the Post Office. It was only when I remembered my orders. (Note: I'm using a Manila based address.) 

On my second purchase, the books didn't arrive at all. I requested for replacement and given the previous experience, I devoted a three-month extension. The books arrived after a month. My only consolation, the second hand copies were still in good condition. 

Everything is almost perfect with Thrift Books. All the hard to find and expensive coffee table books in my list are available. I'm tempted to purchase everything given the good quality of their second hand books. I'm taken aback with the fear that the books might again, not arrive at all. Waiting for three months is fine, as long as everything will arrive. Unfortunately, that assurance will never happen. (life's painful reality hahahaha)  A friend had the same experience of not receiving her orders. She opted for refund which was in return, immediately processed. 

Save for the classic question, will I recommend Thrift Books?

Yes.... with the disclaimer that.... don't go for a shopping spree. If you are dreaming of acquiring an expensive coffee table book, series, hard to find titles or any hardbound editions in second hand copies, you might want to try Thrift Books. However, buy the cheapest copy or at a price that will not wreck your wallet. In my language, at the price you are willing to let go. :p 

Before I forgot, Thrift Books uses the services of the post office for standard shipping. Hence, expect the usual white notification card that requires you to personally claim at the local Post Office. I'm not sure with the case of expedite shipping. I never tried because as mentioned, too expensive.

If you have relatives based in USA or Canada, I suggest having it delivered to their addresses. It's faster and safer I guess. Hiring a cargo forwarder is a good idea, but not in terms of costs. Books are heavy and bulky so you might end up spending at a price of a brand new copy. 

For the sake of trying, use Thrift Books once or twice. But given my experience, condition yourself and expect the worst. :) 

P.S. I decided to give Thrift Books another try. I found very cheap copies of the three Kate Spade books in my list. I spent around Php 800 (inclusive of shipping) for three hardbound books. I placed my order on the first day of February. My orders were marked shipped the next day. I will update this post as soon as I receive my books. *Hopefully soon, not another three months again* 

I hope everything will end in happily ever after and not another saga of waiting forever. :p

Update as of March 22, 2018

My orders were expected to arrive around February 22, 2018. Unfortunately, nothing arrived on that day. I gave an allowance of one week before making a follow up email.

On March 1, I sent a follow up email. I received reply from Thrift Books that a replacement order has been sent. The order was tagged under expedite processing. I was told to expect the package around March 12, 2018.

Nothing arrived so I made another email last March 20, 2018. I requested for refund and right away, my payment was refunded.

I may not have received my orders but Thrift Books' fast response and processing exceeded my expectations. Despite the failed purchase, I respect Thrift Books customer centred management system. 

1 comment

  1. I hope your recent order arrives soon Diane. I will try this company, though I have a huge backlog of books waiting for me to read.

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