Now that December is upon us, you may find yourself still (or finally) shopping for gifts. And what better gift is there than books? Sure, we’re a little biased here, but still. Books make for wonderful presents, as I’m sure everyone reading Book Riot on a regular basis will agree. And although I have an abiding, all-consuming love of brick-and-mortar bookstores, I also enjoy the convenience of buying books at the best online bookstores.
If you share my appreciation for online book shopping, it’s possible that your first instinct is to head over to Amazon’s website. But perhaps you’d like to reconsider: there are lots of other online bookstores out there, both fully digital, and online/physical combinations. Many of these online bookstores have large catalogs and low shipping costs, and they also contribute to supporting independent and local bookstores. After all, with the U.S. economy at least 50% more concentrated than it was in 2005, according to this paper, it’s more important than ever to invest in smaller and local shops.
With this in mind, I’ve included both some of the largest online bookstores, and some others that are more niche: shops that specialize on comics or romance, for example. Even if you’re surrounded by nonreaders, and are therefore in the tragic position of not being able to share your love of books with your loved ones, this list is still worth looking over: I guarantee that you’ll find either something you want, or something you need (*cough* college textbooks *cough*). Shall we?
If you want the convenience of shopping from one website with the satisfaction of supporting local bookstores, Bookshop.org is for you. 100% of the profit from your purchase will be directed to the local bookstore of your choice. It has a near-perfect 4.9 ranking on Trustpilot.
The oldest mystery-specialized bookstore in the USA, it stocks hardcovers, paperbacks, and periodicals across sub-genres. It ships worldwide.
There are many reasons to love used books, their lower price being one of them. But when buying used books online, you may worry about their quality. Fear not: ThriftBooks solves this problem by hand-grading every used book in advance. This way, you know exactly what you’ll be getting. They also work with Friends of the Library groups in order to provide financial support, and donate books to schools, nonprofit organizations, and those affected by natural disasters. Still need convincing? They have a 4.8 ranking on Trustpilot and ship internationally.
Buying books and aiding literacy programs across the world? Sign me up. This online bookstore has raised more than $34 million dollars for literacy advancement and libraries since launching in 2003. It offers international shipping.
If you prefer your books in audio, Libro.fm is the shop for you. Not only do they have a large catalog for you to choose from, but you can select a local bookstore and it’ll receive a portion of every purchase you make.
The first romance-dedicated bookstore in the U.S., it also lets you shop online. A delightful collection that includes a wide variety of sub-genres and authors. Ships to the U.S. and Canada.
Confession: I only found out about this bookstore while researching for this post, and now I’m kicking myself for missing its existence for so long. It operates through third-party booksellers, which means that by buying from this site, you’re buying from independent bookstores. It also offers international shipping.
Okay, this one might be obvious. Amazon before there was an Amazon, Barnes & Noble combines a large (over 5 million) catalog of titles in various formats. If your order is worth $40 and above, shipping is free.
If there are higher-ed students in your life, then you know how absurdly expensive textbooks are. Make a student’s life simpler by getting them second-hand textbooks “from over 18,000 verified sellers and rental providers who compete to provide the absolute lowest prices.” That’s right, you can also rent textbooks. All rentals come with free return shipping.
A New York staple, this bookshop also lets you shop online. You can find everything from booksellers to rare and collectibles (obviously, the latter aren’t what I have in mind when I mentioned low pricing), and it ships internationally.
Looking for more bookstores? We’ve got you covered.