PROS / The company has great support options, good product selection, excellent order options and a very nice website.
CONS / They do not allow shoppers to sell their used books.
VERDICT / Books-A-Million is doing the most important things right and with a little work, they could easily rise to the top.
Books-A-Million is not as well-known as the top-rated online bookstores we reviewed, but they still offer a lot of options and have a great website. If they continue to improve their services, it is likely they may become a household name like Amazon.com has become.
When it comes to buying products, Books-A-Million has just as good of a selection as Borders or Barnes & Noble. Their bookstore features new books, used books, textbooks, collectable books, movies, DVDs, music and toys.
The one aspect the store does not offer is the ability to sell your own books. Most of their leading competitors offer this service and it makes sense to let users sell their used books on the site. After all, doing so can help increase their product availability, let them offer unbeatable deals on used books, and they can always make money through commissions from the used books sold.
The site itself is clean, easy to use and attractive. The homepage helps highlight best sellers, sales and the store’s free shipping deal. The basic search on the site’s homepage also serves as its advanced search by allowing users to choose from a drop-down menu where they can choose to search by author, title and ISBN. Browsing by category, then subcategory, is easy from the homepage, but the store could easily improve by allowing users to also browse from the book section of the site. Sale books, labeled “bargain books,” are available from the home page.
Once you’re on a book’s page, it is easy to buy the book new, add it to your wish list, and view your options for used book purchases. The book page offers a quick description of the book, but it is somewhat limited. Customer reviews are also available, but there are no expert opinions, which can always be a nice feature.
If you prefer to buy your books in person, an easy to use store locator is available on every page as well.
Order over $25 of merchandise and you qualify for free shipping. This offer does not apply to used books and the free shipping method can be even slower than ground shipping, meaning it is not as great as the top three online bookstores. Even so, free is free.
When it comes to paid shipping, Books-A-Million offers a great selection of options, including standard ground, overnight and two day shipping. Gift wrapping your items is an additional $2 per item, but a gift receipt with a personalized message is free.
Coupons, gift certificates and membership cards can all be used to reduce the cost of your online order. Most major credit cards are accepted, but JCB and Diner’s Club are not. Shoppers can also pay via PayPal.
The online bookstore offers an array of support options, including help at their physical store, phone operators, email queries, FAQs and more.
Returns can be made within 30 days of the original purchase, but you have to pay for return shipping and cannot return your items to one of their physical stores.
All in all, Books-A-Million is a good online bookstore, but it is by no means the best. Only time will tell if they will add additional services and features that may help them better compete, but for now, they are still a good option.
If you want to know what makes the top three e-bookstores better than Books-A-Million, see the complete review of online bookstores. Also, if you’re in the market for just textbooks, see the textbooks online review.
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