World of Books is a UK business based in West Sussex trading mostly in used books. They also have an Australian branded website, presumably in response to developing a strong Australian customer base. Although the books ship from overseas (something glossed over on the Australian website, not such a big deal but may be important to consumers wishing to shop local and support Australian business) they offer free shipping and a delivery time of 5-10 working days.
Mailing List Ethics
I don’t remember signing up to the World of Books Australia mailing list… I can only imagine I was plonked on it after buying a book from them via their eBay store, perhaps. I’m a bit weary about this practice and don’t use it in my own business as buying an item from a proprietor, particularly via a third party like eBay, does not automatically infer consent to being placed on a mailing list. I’m sure it breaches some sort of code of conduct concerning electronic mailing lists (and perhaps even the law in some US states) but so many online retailers do it these days that it almost seems to be standard practice. I’d be curious to know whether you think this is OK (comments are open below).
In any event, on this occasion I was glad to be put on the mailing list because as mailing lists often do, they deliver special offers and discounts to your inbox ready to be taken advantage of. And if there’s one thing I like to take advantage of it’s discount offers on second hand books. World of Books Australia was offering $10 off on orders of $40 or more so like a good bibliophile I dutifully headed on over to their website to take a look.
Most books are priced at $9.99. While for some titles this may be a bit high, when you take the free shipping into account it probably evens out. I was pleased to find a number of academic books in the $10 – $15 price range that elsewhere cost much, much more. Academic books, even used ones, can be really pricey and it pays to search for the best price. Having dished out over $100 on a number of occasions for books critical to my field $10 – $15 seems pretty good. Although if popular paperbacks are more your thing, unless your searching for something specific your hip pocket might be better off if you shopped at your local op-shop or second hand book store instead (for example you can pick up Stephen Fry’s books cheaper at Brotherhood Books).
My total spend on five books was $45.34, including the $10 discount plus free postage. It arrived within eight working days the order being placed. I have to admit that this was more than I would normally pay for used books, but in my haul are titles I’d been unable to find at a reasonable price locally so I paid up. As you might expect with used books some of the book covers were a little dirty. A gentle clean with a little rubbing alcohol fixed that up.
Gender Voices by David Graddol and Joan Swann – $9.99
Gender Trap: The Moving Autobiography of the First Transsexual Parents by Chris Johnson – $9.99
Sexuality by Jeffrey Weeks – $9.99
Sexuality and Its Discontents: Meaning, Myths and Modern Sexualities by Jeffrey Weeks – $15.38
Dada and Surrealism by Dawn Ades – $9.99
I was really happy to find two books by Jeffery Weeks who is an eminent scholar in the study of sexuality (one of my areas of research interest). Until now I’ve relied on libraries to access his work. I have a chapter on sexuality in my PhD and in giving feedback on a draft a supervisor said it was fascinating but needed more Weeks, which was a fair call. So I’m looking forward to immersing myself in Weeks for a few weeks in a few weeks (..did you see what I did there? haw.. haw..).
I’d be happy to shop at World of Books Australia again but probably only if I were seeking specific titles that I could not find locally at a good price. As I mentioned earlier I believe you can get better value at Brotherhood Books, for example (and I didn’t need to clean the books from Brotherhood Books either), but on the other hand World of Books has a massive inventory to its advantage.
My advice when shopping there (or indeed any online used book store) is to always check the book details for its condition. Sometimes there are multiple copies of a book available and although priced similarly the condition may vary from ‘very good’ to ‘acceptable’. Make sure you pick the best copy! Although I was able to choose books with knowledge of their condition, I was surprised to find when my books arrived that a couple were ex-library, as this was not stated in the item listings. While personally I’m not too fussed about that, if I was buying these books as gifts (which World of Books promotions encourages shoppers to do) I would want to avoid giving ex-library books.
While I’m prepared to recommend World of Books Australia it’s not without one small criticism. I do wish that their communications were a bit clearer about the shipments of orders. I received what appeared to be a shipping notification within 48 hours of placing my order but it stated nowhere in a direct manner, not in the notification nor in my account on their website, that “your order was shipped on such and such date” which leaves the whole 5-10 day delivery promise a bit vague. It could have been a “ready to ship” notification for all I know. As an online retailer myself I know that customers want clear and unambiguous information, particularly about shipping. This might be a minor quibble perhaps but one that could be easily resolved with better copy and a bit of code.
World of Books Australia