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Sambhar Mafia - Cooked To Kill!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Let's Go Book Shopping

I spent some time doing book shopping on the net (Indian sites only) and have used the experience to present a comparative study of the various Indian book-shopping sites. The following are the sites in my order of preference:

1. Prakash Books – Offers 21.50% discount on all the books. The range of books is not exhaustive, but they carry most of the popular titles. The site layout is not all that great, but that should not bother you much as you get a good deal. These guys have been around for a long time, but they don’t advertise much and hence not many people are aware that they have an Internet shopping site. Their customer service is very poor. Based on my experience, I can say that they don’t send out email alerts when your order is shipped out. They don’t even respond promptly to your queries.

Shipping Charges: Rs. 36 for the first book and Rs. 26 for every additional book.

2. Indiatimes – Offers quite competitive pricing and free shipping. Once you add in the delivery charges, there should not be much of a price difference between Prakash Books and Indiatimes. Definitely worth a try. If you become a member of the Indiatimes Book Club (there is a joining fee!), the price of the book drops further.

Shipping Charges: Indiatimes offers free shipping (shipping costs might be built into the product price itself).

3. Fabmall – Offers a wide variety of titles. Pricing may not be as good as Indiatimes and Prakash Books. Their site layout is good, helps you find your book easily.

Shipping Charges: Fabmall charges Rs. 25 per book.

4. Landmark on the Net – Probably the only Indian retail bookstore, which is into online and offline models (Prakash Books is not exactly a new format retailer and hence have excluded them for this purpose). The conflict between the online and offline pricing would mean that the online model doesn’t dole out lot of discounts. Since they have a physical bookstore, the range is quite big. Landmark offers its books under the banner of SifyMall.

Shipping Charges: Shipping charges are calculated at the time of check out.

5. Rediff – Prices are quite high. I don’t think they are serious about etailing of books.

Other Players:
Firstandsecond, Gobookshopping – Although players like Firstandsecond started off with a bang, they seem to have lost track along the way. Most of the books are sold at retail prices and hence there is no compelling reason to buy from them. Apart from this, one could also explore Ebay.in for purchase of new books and second hand books. For a book like Two Lives (priced around Rs. 550 in Ebay), I found that the shipping charge was Rs. 60. I think such high shipping charges (Rs. 60 in Ebay Vs Rs. 25 - 35 charged by other sites) could be a potential hindrance to the growth of the Ebay model.

Other Issues:
Avaibility of Cash on Delivery facility: I think sites like Fabmall do offer that, but Prakash Books is not offering the same. This could help in wooing customers who are not comfortable in disclosing their credit card number over the Internet.

International Delivery Option and Applicable Shipping Charges: I think Rediff has a option of shipping to the US, not sure of the others though. The exorbitant international shipping charges would often mean the price of the book is lower than what you pay for the shipping.

I would be happy to hear from people who have bought from the above sites. It would actually help in confirming / refining some of the above observations.

28 Comments:

  • Hi Kaps,

    Thanks a million dude! I was actually about to make a search over Google to find some shopping websites which sells books (Indian Only), specially to buy Five Point Someone and One day @ Call Center, these books were recommended by my friends and which was really amazing (to them).

    Author of these is Chetan (IIT'ian) and I am sure you would have already known about the Five Point Somone - Story 3 IIT'ians and their life there IIT!

    Anyways, thanks againg for the wonderful collections of links to Indian Shopping Websites exclusively for Books :)

    - Dreamchaser

    By Anonymous Dreamchaser, at 9:14 PM  

  • Hi Kaps,

    Looks like GoBookShopping.com is one of the best among sites you have listed, their list price is really too good than others, while others have same pricing as what we get from Book Shops! And indeed all sites have the books I looked for, key in your search keyword (I used "Chetan Bhagat") and you are done!

    Well done Kaps ;)!

    - Dreamchaser

    By Anonymous Dreamchaser, at 9:18 PM  

  • Tried anyindian.com kamadenu.com ?

    By Blogger பரி (Pari), at 9:21 PM  

  • @Dreamchaser,
    You would be better off buying from Landmark / Higginbothams / Odyssey in Chennai. The books mentioned by you cost Rs. 95/- and it would not be worth worthwhile spending Rs. 25 - 35 as shipping charges for a low priced book.

    Pari,
    I have been to Kamadenu.com but have not purchased anything from there....thanks for the pointers to sites selling Tamil books.

    By Blogger Kaps, at 9:49 PM  

  • @Kaps: I have tried FirstandSecond and LandmarkontheNet.

    I liked FirstandSecond's site layout the best. It is easy to locate titles.

    Landmark + Sify's search feature is just passable. If you are pre-ordering books through them, they are not very prompt with book delivery. The site promises a certain date of delivery but you need to keep checking with them and there is some delay. Pricing, as you mention, is comparable to the price in the physical bookstore.

    I also like India Today Book Club. It needs membership but the discounts on a book are significant.

    Thanks for the tip about Prakash books - I wasn't aware of it.

    By Blogger Echo/Lavanya, at 9:53 PM  

  • Also, vaguely recalled someone mentioning Bookshop India. Don't know how good it is though.

    By Blogger Echo/Lavanya, at 10:01 PM  

  • @Echo,
    I have bought from Firstandsecond 4 years ago. Inspite of being an early entrant, they have not really capitalized on it. Their prices are atrociously high and hence I don't really care whether their layout is good or not.

    Landmark's site is hardly impressive. Something tells me that they are not so aggressive on the e-biz model.

    I have heard about India Today book club, but haven't checked it out.

    I just bought from Prakash books and their delivery lead time was impressive. I was a bit upset because of lack of communication from their end.
    They need a lesson or two in customer service.

    By Blogger Kaps, at 10:03 PM  

  • Thank you Kaps for the alround analysis. I wanted to do a similar one for Indian Magz subscription (for abroad/US). If you can come up with that oen too, it will be extremely helpful for many like me.

    Couple of other Tamil sellers:
    1. Welcome to New Book Lands - Poor web design; Excellent customer service; Competitive rates (satisfied customer speaking)

    2. anytamil.com - Books - Good service (Reliable but Pricey)
    http://www.anytamil.com/php/bookmain.php?l=00001

    3. http://www.udumalai.com/ - Yet to order thru them

    4. http://www.tamizhbooks.com/ - Site is down :-((

    Another resource is http://www.eelamstore.com/ for Eezham related materials.

    5. finally, "Dilip Kumar" dilipbooks@eth.net - Very authentic, personalized suggestions of tamil books, no nonsense (non-salesman attitude)

    By Blogger Boston Bala, at 11:37 PM  

  • @Boston Bala,
    I haven't really explored the online magazine subscription sites (one of the advantages of getting print mags in Singapore). Since most of them are pay, I doubt whether I can test them out without paying for it. Will keep it as a reference guide for future usage.

    By Blogger Kaps, at 12:44 AM  

  • @kaps and others,

    I really think, once should better leave to the nearest bookshop and grab a copy, i almost thought these website were useful, but their shipping charges are like a hell. I was about to check out for two books which costed about Rs.200 and their shipping charges which came around Rs.120, now thats really sad ?? Shipping charges that equals a copy of book... hmm.. Landmark is very near and as suggested, will go there.. I almost thought Shipping was free surfing or atleast very cheap, and later seems to be different than what we think about.

    - Dreamchaser

    By Anonymous Dreamchaser, at 1:08 AM  

  • One other bookshop to note is ths Sapna book store in Blr. I have bought quite a few books from them online. www.sapnaonline.com

    By Blogger Krishna, at 1:38 AM  

  • Service at FirstandSecond is extremely SHODDY.the book i ordered when my sister was expecting her baby,never reached her .Apart from charging my credit card and sending me a deluge of delayed replies to all my mails , they didnt do ANYTHING. i ended up having a huge row with the credit card company too, as they reported that the "merchant" could not reverse the charges. the worst part was that FirstandSecond told me in one of their mails later,that the book was out of stock (it didnt indicate the out of stock status on the website) and then they have the gall to charge for an out-of-stock book.
    this is an old story - my neice is now 4 - but i have been TOTALLY put off and will never even browse their website .

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:10 AM  

  • Hey ny Idea abt online shops in singapore looking for one desperately !!

    By Blogger Shiv Shankar, at 12:31 PM  

  • Hey Dude. I have been buying from www.bookshopofindia.com. Its Good. Cheap prices and prompt service. Must recommend you to try it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:42 PM  

  • Hi All,
    Let me warn you regarding FirstandSecond.com. I have heard this twice that if you pay them, they will just say that they have not recieved the cheque or would not respond at all. So please verify whether you will get your book or not before from the online purchase specially firstandsecond.com.
    First time, it was told to me by my iimb prof B mahadevan who has given a link to first and second.com for purchase and his site visitors were saying that they have paid but not recieving the book. Second instant is very recent. One of my colleague had sent them some cheque and they are refusing that they have recieved it.

    So be careful before ordering.

    By Blogger RaviM, at 2:22 PM  

  • We are giving information about Tamil Books, no sles at our site but the request will re directed to concern publication or writter

    By Blogger விருபா / Viruba, at 6:25 PM  

  • Are there any unscupulous online bookstores that ship books abroad at Indian prices? Exchange rates make some of the prices in India *VERY* favourable for foreigners.

    By Anonymous Rickward, at 8:49 PM  

  • Thanks for your insight on Online Book Shops in India.
    I chose FabMall to gift a book for one of my friends in India. The experience has been a smoother one amidst very minor glitches on its website. The customer service responded promptly to my concerns and the book was delivered 2 days in advance via DTDC.
    Overall Satisfactory.

    By Blogger Kovaite, at 11:27 PM  

  • nice informative article.

    one more awesome place where you can pick up books - http://learningjourney.co.in/

    By Blogger ROhan, at 1:25 AM  

  • I would highly recommend BuySellOldBooks.com. It is a 100% Free website where you can buy, sell, and exchange old used books in India. There is no commission to pay. Sellers can list their books for free and get all the money. Buyers see the book listings and contact the seller through the website.

    BuySellOldBooks.com has Thousands of books in all categories and many of them free. This is because the site has a community and environmental focus.

    Thousands of members and a growing, friendly community! Give it a go!

    By Anonymous Alekh, at 3:06 AM  

  • Chanchal Books
    Developed by Shailendra Chanchal Email : chanchalsk@yahoo.co.in

    Buy Indian Books on all subjects from all major publishers of India.It is the perfect place for online book shopping.

    Just visit http://www.chanchalbooks.com/

    By Anonymous Shailendra Chanchal, at 4:29 PM  

  • one can also try futurebazaar.com there most titles have 30% discount i am not sure if shipping is free. i came across this site only few days back...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:14 PM  

  • I had used firstandsecond.com a few years back and found that they shipped different books (that were lower priced) than the ones ordered. This is especially true for books by foreign authors, also the customer service is virtually non-existent, they dont bother to reply at all.

    I had to use them again a few days back as there was some credit in my account which the website had to pay, they had refused to refund the amount and said that they can only adjust the amount in future orders.

    This was the last time I have ordered with them, and would henceforth use prakashbooks as recommended by Kaps. Thanks for the excellent and informative post!

    Cheers,
    Saurabh

    By Anonymous Saurabh, at 7:38 PM  

  • you should also try http://www.dogearsetc.com. Here you can also sell your old books while seeking a bargain on other old ones put up for sale

    By Blogger leonardjensan, at 12:14 PM  

  • off late i had started shopping with ladmarkonthenet via sify. i really had bad experience with them. i shopped five times with them. twice they have sent a book priced lower than i ordered. first time they had sent the right book but it cost me extra money since the wrong book had to be sent back, though i did that voluntarily. second time there is no action on their part. writing to sify gets you some reply but lanamarkonthenet's customer service is doesn't exist, since they never reply... indiatimes is much better. if a book is out of stock they simply refund the money in a week. but again their collection is not good. indiaplazaa i had shoped couple of times without any bad experience and an active customer service. i think these other shops like sify and all have a long way to go befor ethey can truly call themselves online shops...

    By Blogger Freaky Window, at 4:30 PM  

  • Hello
    Friends,

    check out my blog for crucial tips while doing Online Book shopping

    By Anonymous Gaucho, at 5:59 PM  

  • Thanks buddy for wonderful info sharing.
    There are some more sites like www.shopperixmall.com starting books section.
    Cheers
    http://smsMantra.blogspot.com

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:27 PM  

  • Great resource!

    If you are interested to buy tamil books, check out the following site http://books.dinamalar.com/ contains the complete book information and details

    By Anonymous தினமலர், at 2:58 PM  

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