ThriftBooks: My Experiences With This Online Used Book Store

Hey everyone!  So I’m always looking for a way to buy cheap books (who isn’t?) and ThriftBooks got my attention on Pinterest one day.  Once I started digging around and placed a couple of orders, I started thinking it’d be good to let you guys know about it.

Image result for thriftbooks

What Is It?

Thriftbooks is an online used book seller, though they even have new books that you can order through them too.  Their used books generally run about $3.99-$4.50, but they also sell boxed sets, books in different languages, and collectibles (obviously, those tend to be a little more expensive).

With each book that you click on, they give you the option of getting the book in different conditions.  All of this depends on their availability, so this is subject to change by book.  First, you have a choice of hardback or paperback.  Then you can choose “like new,” “very good,” “acceptable,” “good,” or “new.”  Most of the books are going to probably fall in the “very good” or “acceptable” category, just from what I’ve seen.

My Experiences

To celebrate the end of the school year, I rewarded myself by buying a few books that I’ve been searching book stores for recently to add to my library.  I bought the following:

  • Soul Screamers Vol. 1 by Rachel Vincent (in “very good” condition)
  • Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay (in “like new” condition)
  • Drink Deep by Chloe Neill (in “very good” condition)
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (in “very good” condition)
  • Harry Potter a L’Ecole des Sorciers by J.K. Rowing (in “acceptable” condition)

There was a sale running at the time where you could get 15% off of $15 or more, so I got these 5 books for a grand total of $21, including tax.  That’s pretty good, considering these books would have cost me a lot more at my local Half-Price Books.  I was happy with my purchases and I was just waiting for them to arrive.

And then, of course, after the first bunch came, I put in a second order.  Because now I have a “problem.”  That order included:

  • Destined by Jessie Harrell
  • Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
  • Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
  • Shadows in the Silence by Courtney Moulton

This order is currently being shipped, so I haven’t received any of these yet.

The Pros

When it comes to this site, they’re doing a lot of things right.  Here’s what I like.

  • The Wish List.  Once you make an account, anything you see that you might want to buy, you can just throw on your wish list.  If it goes out of stock (which a few of mine did after being put on my list), they will keep you posted about them when they get another one in.
  • Free Shipping.  If you live in the United States, all you have to do is spend $10 to get free shipping.  Seriously, how hard is it to spend $10 on books?  That’s like 2-3 books on their site, so it was pretty darn easy for me to reach that number.
  • Reading Rewards.  While I haven’t hit my reward yet, they give you points for each book you buy and when you reach 500 points (which seems to be surprisingly easy to hit), then you get a free book.  I really like that.
  • Easy To Get What You Want.  I’m trying to build up my library by completing a few of my series (see Soul Screamers above, where I already have volumes 2 and 3, but not 1).  So I was looking specifically for that volume.  Or with a few of them, I for sure want the hardback or paper back versions to fit with what I already have of that series.  This makes it easy to get what I’m looking for to best compliment my library.  I even can pick which covers I want, like if I want the movie tie-in or not.
  • They’re Upfront About Ex-Library Books.  Sometimes it bothers me to have ex-library books, sometimes it doesn’t.  So the fact that they’re so open about it being an ex-library book is nice.  It’s really hard to miss it.  They try to make sure you know all through the check-out process that it’s ex-library.  If that’s a problem, it’s pretty easy to go back and pick a different version.
  • Coupons.  I got both of my orders in during their 15% off coupon and that was really nice.  I don’t know how often they run sales like that (once a season maybe??) but I will definitely take advantage of their site during those times.
  • The Site’s Easy To Use.  There were a few times I’ve had to fight with the site, but mostly it’s really easy to use.  You can search by genre (and they have everything, from YA to romance to nonfiction to popular fiction) or you can search by title or author.  You can also search by language if you’re looking for Spanish or French versions of something.  In fact, it’s been a little too easy to add to my wish list.

The Cons

Ok, so while my ordering process was awesome, my cons come from what happened next.

  • Shipping Takes Forever.  The free shipping comes with 4-8 day shipping through USPS.  I placed my first order on June 2nd, which was a Sunday.  I didn’t get the last of my order until June 12th.  I don’t know why it took so long, though I’m not sure I can lay all of the blame on ThriftBooks for that one.  But basically, if you’re ordering something as a birthday present or whatever, plan a lot of time in advance, just to make sure you get it on time.  4-8 days isn’t a guarantee.
  • Tracking Is Useless.  They allow you to track your package through USPS (and again, this isn’t necessarily Thriftbooks’ fault), but the tracking was pointless.  It wouldn’t give me an arrival date until it was already in my city.  So I could see that it was coming from Nevada or Oregon, but it wouldn’t give me any kind of date until it was already out for delivery.  That’s just stupid.
  • My Order Came In 3 Different Packages.  I haven’t quite figured out where their warehouses are or how this all works, but my order of 5 books came in 3 different packages.  One was shipped from Portland, Oregon, another from Reno, Nevada, and the last from Dallas.  My second order of 4 books is being shipped from 2 different places: Reno and Baltimore, Maryland.  And since they were taking forever to arrive, it wasn’t even exciting when they finally arrived.
  • Your Books Are Shipped in Bags.  This is what irritates me the most.  When I knew my first package was in my mailbox, I was excited.  I opened the box…and my book was in a shipping bag.  The book inside, which was a hardback, looked like it had taken a bit of a beating.  (I don’t know how much of that was prior damage, to be fair.)  But my “like new” Of Beast and Beauty was definitely dinged up from its travels.  Corners were bent from the way it was shipped, I’m sure of it.  Is it a deal-breaker from ever using them again?  No.  But it does make me proceed with caution.  My last package’s bag had holes in it from where it had gotten caught on something else.  My books could have been destroyed if they’d been exposed to rain.  As someone who is very possessive of her books, this really bothers me that they were treated this badly.

Conclusions

As a company, I like them.  I like their selection, their rewards program, their ordering process.  It’s simple, inviting, and fun to just look through their options.  My issues come from their shipping process, which might be somewhat out of their hands.

I thought the books I received were pretty much what I was expecting.  My “acceptable” Harry Potter book was in better shape than I expected; on the flip side, my “very good” The Girl of Fire and Thorns wasn’t in the best shape.  If they had marked it as “acceptable”, then I would be fine with it, but having never used their site before, I’m not sure what each condition actually looks like with them.

But I like them.  Will I be ordering from them again?  Yes.  It’s going to be a while because I can’t keep buying books at this rate, but I like them enough to keep checking on their inventory.

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