Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Cheapest Books, Anyone?

The advent of the Internet has ushered in a new and convenient way of shopping for the lowest price of practically any item that has utility value. First, there was an upsurge of traditional chain stores establishing alternate online presence, the so-called click and mortar mode of business operations. Then to make sense of the myriad offerings in terms of price selection, it was just a matter of time before some enterprising souls saw and seized the opportunities to offer price comparison services, the aggregator websites that scour the cyberspace for bargain prices on request.

Thus we have expedia.com for the travel industry and hotel.com for the hospitality sector, just to name two examples. How far then can the publishing and entertainment media be far behind?

Upstarts are born everyday, despite the dot com bust that seems to have bottomed out. Some have gone on to better things while some have seen better days, languishing in the doldrums as the competition for niche markets is fierce. Even advertising one’s service offering website has taken on a new urgency, the cyber-entrepreneurs resorting to various means to get noticed.

Well, I did not know one of the ways until today: through invitation emails to bloggers to blog about them. And that’s what I’m about to do now, at the invitation of the webmaster of the book price comparison site: BooksPrice.com that has recently undergone a redesign.

The website compares prices of books, DVDs and CDs, and maintains a list of vendors from which the prices are gleaned real time. of course I wouldn’t be talking about it until I’ve tried it to see for myself whether the site lives up to the triple claims of “free, objective, and easy-to-use".

The search page is reminiscent of the Google search page, with the search box centrally located relatively uncluttered. Below that are listed the categories from Arts and Photography to Travel. Clicking on any category will instantly bring on the list of books, ten per page. For example, I clicked on Religion and Spirituality and noticed a book that I would like to read on the very first page: Life After Death: The Burden of Proof by Deepak Chopra.

I tried a few book searches off the top of my head. First, Fast Food Nation, which was an assigned reading during my daughter’s junior year in High School and has now been made into a movie. The price comparison came back instantly. Next I tried the popular author, John Grisham, and a list of his books was returned within a few seconds. Just to stretch the search, I typed in the name of a renowned coastal engineer, Robert G Dean, Professor Emeritus of the University of Florida, my alma mater. And two of his popular texts were returned on the first page.

So in a span of a few minutes, I’ve established that BooksPrice.com is easy to use, and objective in the sense that it is not affiliated to any of the major book chains and includes many of the online bookstores. There is no need to sign up, no particulars asked for, and definitely no charge.

Personally, I prefer buying books in a book store as part of the fun of buying books is browsing and reading chapters of the books before making a purchase decision. I’m a member of two local bookstores, Inkwood Books and Barnes and Noble. The other favorite haunt of mine is the local library book sales where relatively new books can be gotten at rock bottom prices.

So I have to admit that I’ll only make sporadic visits to BooksPrice.com. But you could be different. And I wish you a pleasant surprise while making your cyber-visit to the website.


CY said...

Ah, Booksprice.com, eh? I think it would be best to use that site in the event that you have a particular book you're looking for, and are just looking for the cheapest price possible (like me, but now that I peruse the library, I get them all for free!). I used to go to Amazon.com to search for cheap books, but it looks like I now have an alternative! Thanks.

Say Lee said...

My sentiments too.

Don't forget about the library book sales if you would like to keep a particular book.

Or you can release one as per the BookCrossing.com's MO.