Reading is a hobby that many, including myself, got reacquainted with because of the new-found free time we now have on our hands thanks to COVID-19 restrictions.
There is nothing quite like a lazy afternoon spent on the couch with an iced coffee and a good paperback to ‘escape’ from reality.
But just like everything in Singapore, reading can be an expensive hobby to upkeep.
Just take a look at the recommended retail price (RRP) printed at the back of most book covers and you can see that we are paying double or triple the price. I understand that bookstores will have to account for fluctuating exchange rates and international logistical costs, but why is a book priced at US$8.99 (S$11.90) sold for S$25+ in Singapore? That’s more than double the RRP!
To put things into perspective, if you go through a book a week, that’s an additional $100/month and a hefty $1,200/year.
So, if you are like me and have a long list of books you want but don’t want to go broke buying them, these are the best online bookshops that offer discounts and free delivery.
Let’s start with the grandfather of all online bookstores, Amazon.
Amazon doesn’t only offer quick delivery and a wide variety of books at competitive prices, but also a tonne of format and edition options. By that we mean, depending on the title, you have the option to choose hardcover (brand new and secondhand), paperback (brand new and secondhand), audiobook, ebook and even cassette tape!
Note: Not all books listed are sold and fulfilled by Amazon, so there might be additional shipping costs or restrictions involved. Always check the fine print before hitting the ’Buy Now’ button.
Amazon delivery charge:
- Amazon Prime Members: Free one-day delivery
- Non-members: One-day delivery is charged at S$2.99 per order, standard delivery is free for orders above S$40
Amazon delivery duration: One to three working days
This list would not be complete without Books Depository.
One of the best known international online bookshops, Book Depository offers a wide range of books for adults and children in a variety of languages (French, German, Polish, Italian, Finnish and Spanish) at affordable prices.
Just how much will you be saving? Honestly, it depends on the title of the book, hardcover or paperback and its popularity. I did a quick comparison and here is what I found:
|Title of book and author||Book Depository||Retail bookstore with an online presence||Price difference|
|Think Again by Adam Grant||S$25.41||S$30.90||S$5.49|
|The Midnight Library by Matt Haig||S$15.52||S$18.95||S$3.43|
|The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson||S$20.41||S$33.32||S$12.91|
Based on the table above, prices here are around 15% cheaper than a well-known retail bookstore in Singapore, plus you get free shipping on all orders. However, the only downside is its long wait time of 10 to 15 working days, so remember to plan in advance!
Pro-tip: When browsing on Book Depository, always log in and add books that you’ve shortlisted to cart, even if you have no intention of purchasing them that day. When you’ve left books in your cart long enough (approximately one to three months), Book Depository will encourage you to purchase them with a shiny 10% off promo code sent directly to your inbox. #ShoppingHack
Book Depository delivery charge: Free delivery for all orders
Book Depository delivery duration: 10 to 15 working days
To really save on books, always charge it to the right cashback card. Apply for one with us today and you could be rewarded with cash and attractive prizes!*
*Rewards may change at any time. Terms and conditions apply.
Think of OpenTrolley as a Singapore-based Book Depository, but with shorter delivery times. It offers thousands of books that range from fantasy to fiction, computers to history and more. Prices are competitive and there’s always an ongoing promotion or sale—this month they are running a sitewide 18% off on books.
That said, OpenTrolley isn’t a friendly site for days when you are just window shopping. Don’t get me wrong—they have an extremely clean website, with a prominent search bar right on top and relatively easy navigation. However, their homepage is so clean that there’s very little to engage with and unless you have a rough idea of what you are looking for, window shopping will require you to jump through a few hoops.
OpenTrolley delivery charge:
- Free delivery for orders above S$70 and a flat rate of S$4.90 for orders under S$35
- Free blue locker collection
OpenTrolley delivery duration: Five to eight working days
Fishpond offers a good selection of books, but not all of them are affordably priced. I did a quick check: certain books are 10% to 40% more expensive when compared to other sites on this list. I would recommend that you take into consideration delivery charges and do a little research before clicking the ‘Buy Now’ button or wait for a sitewide sale.
Apart from books, Fishpond also carries a wide variety of toys, homeware, board games, pet supplies, kitchen necessities and beauty products.
Fishpond delivery charge: Free delivery for all orders
Fishpond delivery duration: Seven to 10 working days
Better World Books
If a book exists, there is a good chance that Better World Books carries it—unless it is a first-edition classic, of course.
What sets them apart? Better World Books offers not only brand new books but also a wide range of secondhand books and textbooks at heavily discounted prices.
Prices for secondhand books start from just US$7 (S$9.30) and you’ll get additional discounts if you purchase four or more books. Secondhand textbooks, on the other hand, are sold for up to 90% off RRP.
Better World Books delivery charge: Free delivery for all orders
Better World Books delivery duration: 10 to 21 working days
Goguru by Times Bookstore
One of Singapore’s most beloved bookstores has undergone a facelift and is now online!
Goguru by Times Bookstore is your one-stop shop for books (including assessment books), toys and stationery. Prices are reasonable as there’s always a promotion or sale, and you don’t even have to be a member to enjoy these discounts (unlike a certain bookstore located at Ngee Ann City).
In addition, they are one of the few local online bookstores to carry just as many children’s books as adult ones. Parents, take note!
Goguru by Times Bookstore delivery charge:
- Members: Free delivery for orders above S$35 and a flat rate of S$3.99 for orders under S$35
- Non-members: Delivery starts from S$5 for orders weighing less than 4kg to S$18 for orders weighing more than 30kg
Goguru by Times Bookstore delivery duration: Five working days
Other ways to get cheap books
If you don’t mind secondhand books, here are some other ways to get books for less.
Shop on Carousell
Prices are competitive and you can often find brand new or secondhand books that are in perfect condition for less than half the retail price.
Visit a secondhand bookstore
Have some free time on your hands? Go shopping at a secondhand bookstore.
By shopping at secondhand bookstores you not only save money, but also help a small business (much needed especially during a time like this) and do your part for the environment. Win-win-win situation.
Buy secondhand and trade-in books on Thryft
Don’t have the time to visit a secondhand bookstore? Head to Thryft. They are an online secondhand bookstore based in sunny Singapore. You may not find many of the latest titles here (unless you are really lucky) but prices are definitely affordable—they even have an entire section for books under S$5.
As a secondhand bookstore, there’s the option to trade in books that you no longer read but can’t bear to throw away. To do this, just submit a pick-up request, pick a date and a Thryft representative will swing by to pick them up from you. These books would then be checked, and credits (which can be used to offset your next Thryft purchase) would be deposited into your account within the next couple of days. No administrative fees or lugging of books required.
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By Geralyne Ong
A lover of gin and all things Nigella Lawson, Geralyne’s a big believer of #Adulting. She spends her leisure time serving fur-babies and doing as many mountain climbers and kettlebell swings as she possibly can.