About Booksellers General Knowledge/FAQ About Books

Alternatives to Amazon? They exist

Massive changes to the publishing and bookselling industries now force us to look at which companies have merged, and which companies have gobbled up smaller stores, or simply destroyed any competition blocking their paths. We’ve been asking ourselves this question: What online book alternatives to Amazon remain?

How can we help support a vibrant, diverse used and rare book industry in a time like this?

Since reading this New York Times article on mom-and-pop bookstores, I’ve been asking myself this question a lot recently.

Massive changes to the publishing and bookselling industries now force us to look at which companies have merged, and which companies have gobbled up smaller stores or simply destroyed any competition blocking their paths.

We all know about Amazon.com. The website giant has made plenty of headlines since it began in 1995, but only in recent years have we experienced in mass media what is coined as “AmazonFAIL,” or wide backlash against one of the largest online retailers in the world. Last month, Goodreads–now the largest website for reading communities and book recommendations–announced their decision to cut ties by severing their API data feed with Amazon and switching to Ingram to source book data. Even Barnes & Noble –a corporation that put many local bookstores out of business– said, after the big A’s recent partnership with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to distribute print books, that they will not carry Amazon print titles in their stores. Amazon has also been under public scrutiny for their refusal to collect state sales tax in several states, for committing severe mix-ups by not making books or book categories found “offensive” available to browse or buy (which began the #AmazonFAIL Twitter hashtag), and now for the latest rumor that Amazon may open its own physical storefronts. (2017 Update: They did, and they are awful.)

But let’s focus on the online book industry, which has undergone dramatic consolidation over the past five years. As a result, most of the once-great independent companies such as Abebooks and Bookfinder have been purchased by and ushered under the Amazon corporate umbrella.

Of course, this narrows the choices now available to booksellers and customers and creates a less competitive online book market.

But choices remain. They’ve been there for a long time, working in the background, providing ways for both customers and booksellers to help maintain that vibrant and healthy market for used and rare books online.

There are those of us –the entire staff at Biblio included– who still feel strongly about supporting independent businesses and ensuring fair competition.  In April of 2011 we put together the following “substitution” list, which notes just a few of the many great indie businesses which have consistently delivered top-notch services internationally over the years without multi-billion dollar marketing and/or operating budgets.

Take a look at the list. I strongly encourage any and all independently-owned and operated bookstores & book-related companies to step forward in the comments section.

Instead of these Amazon subsidiaries:

Marketplaces: Amazon, Abebooks, ZVAB, Choosebooks

Meta Searches: Bookfinder

Inventory Software: Homebase

Website Providers: Chrislands

Book Order Management: FillZ

Try these independent companies:

Independent Online marketplaces: Biblio (of course), Antiqbook, Livre Rare Book, Maremagnum, Powell’s Books, ABAA.org*, Tomfolio*, and IOBA.org*

Meta Searches: AddALL, viaLibri, Marelibri, 2017 update: BookGilt

Inventory Software: BookHound, BookTrakker

Website Providers: Bibliopolis

Book Order Management: Art of Books, Indaba

*These book searches  provide customers with books supplied only by bookseller members of those particular organizations.

Remember, you can always go to your local bookstore if you are lucky enough to have one! Use the Biblio Bookstore search to find our booksellers in your area, or use IndieBound to find bookstores that stock new books near you.

Amazon Alternatives to Buy Books Online


  • My spouse and I stumbled over here coming from a different website and thought I might as well check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to exploring your web page again.

  • very interesting article! I will follow your themes.
    Can I subscribe to your posts on Twitter or on your Facebook profile?

  • I find little concern for the world of book collectors and dealers in either Amazon or Ebay. I have never been, and never will be, just a widget seller.

  • An update: The website provider Chrislands has been sold back to its founder (Jaymes Sorbel) in 2013, and is now again an independent business, catering mostly to independent booksellers.

    • Oh, we are still independent! Now, that list is quite out of date. Amazon bought Goodreads in 2013, for example. We’ll see about doing an updated list…thanks for the reminder.

      • I bought a book on Addall that came from Amazon. The seller contacted me and said that Amazon put a picture of a different book on the listing. The picture looked cobbled up
        and did not look like a real book.
        How close is Addall getting to Amazon?
        Why does Addall waste our time looking at 5 listings of the same book?

  • everyone would be happier if Amazon lost out, they have ruined my life ,over the last 4 years they have taken my books and advertise them as their own.
    they have also took my personal web sight and display its contents. but worst of all they are showing personal photographs of my wife and myself , some are
    which have been taken in my own home.
    I have Written to The Head of Amazon ,at his home address but he passed my complaint on to a man called Nigel Malick he E/mailed me saying send your
    complaint to this E/mail address and i will attend to it, I did only to receive an E/mail from his providers saying ( please do not send anymore E/ mails , his box is full he never reads them) I wrote again to Jeff Bozos tracking the letter , it got as far as Seattle then it disappeared .

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