Why It is Cheaper to Buy Books Online

We used to buy books from retail shops, typically Popular, Kino and previously Borders. But nowadays a majority of us buy books online because it is more convenient and it is cheaper.

The proof?

Well firstly based on statistics, the top categories for mobile commerce in an online research done by The Nielson Company in 2011 shows that the online book market is standing at S$12 million. That is 4th in position. (ref:http://e27.co/?p=26126).

Also, it is convenient that through your smartphones and tablets, you can get the desired books delivered to any location you prefer without the need to leave the house at all.

And so that leaves the question; why is it cheaper? How much cheaper and what are the pros and cons? find out.


Let’s look a comparison based on a book, that is “Lightroom 2″ by Scott Kelby:

  • Amazon :  S$29.69(book) + S$9.98(shipping) = US$39.67 x 1.3(currency rate) = S$51.57
  • Book Depository : S$36.10(book) + Free Shipping = US$36.10 x 1.3 = S$46.93
  • Kinokuniya @ Takashimaya : S$68

*Note that I did not put up Borders prices as they are usually pricier than Kino’s ones (correct me if I’m wrong)

The numbers speak for itself. It is obvious that online prices are lower than buying from a physical retail shop.


Recycling books
Recycling books

Though i observed that recycling and conservation actively is not a big thing in Singapore. But buying second hand books are considered as recycling books too. Not many people realise this. Lesser fresh pulp is need to produce a batch of new books when the old ones can serve the reading needs of many. And lesser fresh pulp will mean that lesser trees to be felled to cater to production of new books. You get the drift, and it is a fact.

Of course one of the easiest way without getting out of the house to obtain a second hand book is to find them online, be it individual sellers, or online stores. BooksAvenue has some second hand books too, mostly priced at S$5 with free delivery.

When i started BooksAvenue (actually under the business license it is registered as Books Avenue), i wanted to push out book rentals. It is one of best ways to recycle books commercially. But from my observations, it seems that Singaporeans prefer to own books. It is what my partner and i labelled it as the ‘HDB mentality’, in that sense that readers prefer to buy and own the book rather than renting it. Which is true that when i own the book i have all the time to read it.

Back to the topic, when you buy books online, you can choose to buy first or second hand books. That is if you were to buy secondhand books, you are actually recycling books, saving the world one book at a time.


Rising costs
Rising costs

When retailers are paying their lease, rental or utility bills for selling their books at a physical location, where do you think this cost will go to? That’s right, ultimately and inevitably, customers are the one who bear the costs.

Yet it is not the same for online bookstores, there is no rentals to pay, no high overhead costs or any high running costs i can think right now. The only cost, or costs, would probably be web hosting fees (if you are using a registered domain), and other than that, time and effort.

Alas, shipping cost could be a problem too. Due to that, a book with a cheap online price tag could be increased much by shipping cost. This may, as a result, becomes logically cheaper to buy from retail shops. Thankfully there is a way around it. That is purchase secondhand books, or local online bookshops where you have both the low price and cheaper delivery methods.

All in all, buying books online are, no doubt, cheaper.


As much as it is cheaper to buy books online, especially cheaper when buying from local online bookstores, there are still a few downsides to it. One of the possibilities is that you run the risk of getting damaged books. I understand that, and in fact, it happened to me on an occasion before. It is just annoying to pay for damaged books. Hence, i took the effort to take photos of the books that i am listing it on BooksAvenue. Close up shots, page view and edge view to show and share the quality of the books that BooksAvenue is carrying.

Also, because it is purchasing it online, there may be a long wait due to delivery. This, however, can be avoided  minimised if you were to buy it from a local online store. I took out the word ‘avoided’ because to some extent, there will still be time required for processing and delivery. Unless you HAVE to read the book now, buying books online is still more economical. As for BooksAvenue, i ensure that the purchased books will reach my clients within 3 days after payment.

A penny saved is a penny earned

Ultimately, what I’m trying to put across here is this: Decide on the books you wish to purchase, check it out online before buying if you do not need to read urgently. There are cheap books online, compared to retail shops. It is always good to have more options. If you can get the same book in another place cheaper, why not? Afterall, every penny saved is a penny earned. 🙂





*All images belong to the respective owners.

One thought on “Why It is Cheaper to Buy Books Online

  1. Yes, it is cheaper to buy books online as there are many advantages like transport to the book shop won’t be there which saves fuel, time and energy. You can get your selected book at your door step with free delivery charges.


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