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  • Hadley

Bookstore Review: AbeBooks

The whole point to my review of bookstores (both off and online) is to help fellow bookworms find the right place for them to buy from and fill their personal library with.

The first place I reviewed was Barnes & Noble (which you can see that review here); the second place I am going to review is online Canadian bookstore: AbeBooks aka Advanced Book Exchange. An important note before I get into the review - - - this bookstore was bought out by Amazon back around 2008, so keep that in mind as I tell you why I refuse to ever shop from here again. AbeBooks isn't like most bookstores, whom sell new releases and popular titles, instead they focus on selling rare and out-of-print books, giving them lower traffic than most online bookstores. And how do they acquire such books? Independent book sellers. AbeBooks is practically just a marketplace for people to sell their rare books. They also sell fine art and collectibles, such as an $800 Picasso lithograph or the $200 manuscript of 'Deliverance' by James Dickey.

Unfortunately, because this is a marketplace for books, the only time there will be a sale on the books is if the independent seller decides to have one. If you scan through their sale section, you may notice that it's made up of books that people aren't normally collecting, mostly old history books. So as a horror lover, I will never find any collector's horror book on sale through AbeBooks.

An example of the sale items.

Do note from above that those are the sellers having sales, what is listed after that are the book genres they have in their shop, but no guarantee that they're on sale! It's a tiring task because you literally have to go through their entire shop to see what is on sale (some of these sellers have hundreds, if not more, of books and such in their shop,too).

I have personally had a bad experience with AbeBooks that was bad enough that I now refuse to shop there. A couple of years ago, I was ecstatic that I found a rare and out-of-print book I had been looking for, and at an affordable price on AbeBooks. I bought the book and eagerly awaited to receive it. Fast forward one month later, and the book still hadn't shipped. I contacted AbeBooks, and they contacted the seller... it turns out that the seller didn't even have the book! The seller refunded my money, but he wasn't reprimanded in any way! So, sellers can list books they don't even have, and AbeBooks has no problem with it! Buyer beware on this site.

After this experience, I don't have anything good to say about AbeBooks, except that they did contact the seller and got my money back. If you do shop from this site, here are some things to watch out for:


  • remember that AbeBooks is a marketplace owned by Amazon, therefore, these sellers can take your money and never send you the book (if they even had the book to begin with)

  • don't get excited about sales because the majority of the books on sale are old and out-of-date textbooks (no horror books here)

  • even on sales, the prices are independently chosen by the seller (shop around for a better price, I can guarantee you will find it elsewhere)

  • AbeBooks does NOT guarantee anything that their sellers are selling, which means someone could say that a piece of artwork is an original, but it's the sellers responsibility to prove it - not AbeBooks, which means sellers can lie

Overall, I will never shop from AbeBooks again, even though it was one incident, it opened my eyes to what this marketplace is - - - not trustworthy. Have you ever shopped from AbeBooks? Did you have a bad or good experience with them? Have another marketplace you like to buy books from? Let me know in the comments!

- Hadley

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