AMAZON is king, but ahead of World Book Day tomorrow, here are five other great websites.
1 abeBooks.com: 13,500 book-sellers in 57 countries pay a subscription to list their books with Abe, be they individuals or retailers. Great for used, rare and out-of-print stuff, but new titles too. It’s fastidiously categorised yet easy to browse, prices are competitive, it has a discerning user community and excellent add-on features for bookworms.
2 Bookcrossing.com: Read and enjoy a book, then leave it on a park bench, caf table or bus seat for someone else to find and do likewise. That’s the simple, sociable basis of book-crossing and, thanks to this site set up in 2001, the journey of books “released” – either to one of 640,000 fellow members registered or just “in the wild” –- can be tracked and recorded.
3 Bookfinder.com: When all else fails, or you simply haven’t got time to scour second-hand bookshops for that elusive copy of Flyfishing by JR Hartley, try this simple site which lists a mind-boggling 150 million titles, thanks to its worldwide meta-search engine. No topic is too dull or obscure. Search vertically by author, title or general subject matter.
4 Play.com: Second-biggest after Amazon and a serious rival for the populist pound. Play’s advantage is that goods are shipped from Jersey, so items under 18 are exempt from VAT. Right now you can buy the book of David Attenborough’s ‘Life in Cold Blood TV series for 9.99 (down from 20), for example. Amazon is offering the same price, but Play will deliver free.
As long as you don’t judge a book by its cover, then volunteer-run Project Gutenberg is a godsend for the cash-poor reader. It’s the world’s oldest digital library, founded in the United States in 1971, offering some 24,000 free ebooks. They appear on screen in plain text, so it’s not one for those with a tactile or aesthetic appreciation of literature. On the plus side you’ll find everything from classic novels to educational texts and popular cookery books here and they don’t cost a penny.