Website Review: Thriftbooks


Screen capture of homepage, accessed 3/28/19

I generally am an advocate of brick and mortar bookstores, as you may know from following this blog. Where possible, I like to buy new books, which helps support these stores and also the authors, who don’t receive royalties on used books, and rarely on remaindered ones. Brick and mortar stores may not always offer the best bargains, but they enrich the fabric of a community and provide employment and local taxes.

At the same time, buying new books can be expensive. Three hardbacks may cost $100 or more at today’s prices. The book has to be one I want to keep to justify that price. Mass market paperbacks are still generally under $10, and quality paperbacks $15-20 or more, but even those prices add up quickly. Used booksellers can often help take a bite out of this cost, but remember that neither publisher nor author are benefiting from your purchase. One upside–you are recycling!

The other issue is that there are often particular editions you might look for to complete a set, or there are books that are out of print. Here, online booksellers such as AbeBooks or Alibris are good alternatives to that mammoth online bookseller. Recently at the Bob on Books Facebook Page (you are welcome to like us!) I asked people about their experiences of buying used books online and discovered I must be the last person on the planet not to know about Thriftbooks. One person wrote, “Thriftbooks is the bees knees.” With such an enthusiastic endorsement, I could not fail to take a look.

Here’s what I found. The homepage to the website works well to connect one to all the features on the site. There is a search bar that allows you to search by title, author, or ISBN. I found that entering the first part of the author’s name brought up a list that allowed me to search the author’s book quickly. One of the things you will notice is that you are not buying from other booksellers through the site but through Thriftbooks itself. (Thriftbooks also sells through Amazon.)

Just below that is a drop down menu bar that allows you to search by categories, kid’s, young adult, fiction, and collectibles. There is also information about special offers, their phone app (which I haven’t looked at yet), their blog, and information about the company. They’ve expanded from a single warehouse in Washington state in 2004 to warehouses in ten states. They purchase books from charities, which helps the charities, recycle books through sales or sending them to recycling plants, and support various literacy programs, schools, and correctional facility libraries.

They have a sliding banner that features their Thriftbooks deals (an additional 10% off 100,000 titles), a bonus currently on offer for their Reading Rewards program, a feature on women’s books, and a chance to vote in their “novel knockout” program. Below this are featured their bestsellers (all selling from $3.79), trending books, and popular books eligible for their Thriftbooks discount. Between the trending books and the Thriftbook deals is a green bar with links to your orders, your current number of points in your Reading Rewards, and a link to Thriftbook deals.

If you go to the page for any category, you see best sellers, new arrivals, and Thriftbook deals for that category. Under Collectibles, you can see New Arrivals, First Editions, and Signed Books. When you click on a book, you are taken to a page for that book offering various price options for the book depending on hardcover, paperback, mass market paperback, and audio and prices by condition. There is also a link to view all the editions of the book.

It is easy to set up an account, which involves providing your name, email, and a password. Click on the Reading Reward link in your profile to enroll in the Reading Rewards program. It allows you to earn points for each dollar you spend (as well as periodic bonuses depending on how many books you read). When you earn 500 points, you get a free book. Starting out, you get 8 points for each dollar. When you spend more than $150 in a year, you graduate to “Literati,” where you earn 10 points.

So I did try out ordering. I ordered a few James Lee Burke books, and the next couple books in the Wheel of Time series that I haven’t read. It was pretty standard for most websites: shopping cart, provide shipping info, and credit card or Paypal. Standard shipping is free with orders over $15 (within the U.S.). It is supposed to take 4 to 8 business days. We’ll see how it goes. I received an immediate order confirmation via email, as well as a 15% discount coupon code for my next order.

If you want to try them out, here is a link to a free book offer (yes, I do get a free book if you order!). So depending on your budget and book buying needs, you might give them a try.

Summing it all up:

Strengths: Inventory, low prices, rewards program, collectibles, overall ease of navigation and use, and the social responsibility of the company.

Downsides: Not the place to find newly released books. These are used books in most cases. It does not connect you to or support brick and mortar booksellers, used or new, nor authors.

12 thoughts on “Website Review: Thriftbooks

  1. I had not heard of Thriftbooks before. This is good information to have. As I told my fellow librarians, I am “book grounded” meaning that I am not permitted to buy any more books until I read some of what I have. I am looking for places where I can sell or trade some books. I am planning on donating other books to local book sales, but those sales do not accept everything. Independent bookstores are great! However, there are not very many near where I live. The only one I can think of at the moment is Traveler Food and Book, which is a restaurant and used bookstore in Union, CT.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Traveler Food and Book used to come pick up the leftover books from the Friends of the Library sale in Tolland, CT. I am not sure if they paid for the books or just saved the friends the trouble of having to move them after the sale.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Used to be a big fan of thrift books, you definitely can get a hand full of books for a great price BUT dont expect them to be in even remotely decent quality.
    I’ve ordered multiple books they classify as “very good” condition, only for them to fall apart halfway through reading them. What they consider “good” condition is usually even worse.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Thriftbooks Login | Find Official Site

  4. I will NEVER buy from them again. I bought several books from them only to ger to one 2 months later and discover pages 89-103 were ripped out. When Customer Service was contacted, Ryan informed me that I was outside the 30 day window and that their books are usually sold intact. He apologized that this one was not, but they could not assist on this order. He said that in the fuure to contact them 30 days before. So, they aren’t checking the books – they leave that to you to buy blindly. No trust. No business.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I ordered King Rat by James Clavel. The book arrived when they said it would but badly damaged–cover ripped in two places, pages yellowed, and the entire book torqued out of shape by being crammed into a too-small mailer. How can you call this “good condition”? I will never deal with your company again!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I would contact them about a replacement or refund. I’ve found them responsive. By the way, they are not MY company. I am simply a book buyer who wrote a review.


      • I’m sorry, Bob. I had great difficulty figuring out how to post my complaint and I guess I didn’t manage to get it where it should have gone. I meant every word I said though. I will not order from them again. I notice there is a phone number; I haven’t tried that yet.

        I have my poor book resting under several heavy hardbacks to straighten it out, and I will eventually read it. But not tonight.

        Liked by 1 person

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