Alibris has been in business since 1998 and offers new, used, rare and audio books.
- Great selection
- Free shipping program
- Alibris Cares Program
Alibris carries 150 million print books, including new, used and rare. Of the ten New York Times bestselling-books we used for our comparison research, Alibris carried them all in both print and audio with the exception of one book in audio version. In addition to renting textbooks and selling your old books, you can also purchase movies, television shows and music on Alibris.
As for prices, Alibris is the middle of the road: it doesn't have the cheapest prices of the online bookstores we reviewed, but it's not the most expensive either - you may not get the best deal out there, but you'll certainly get a fair deal.
A major benefit of Alibris is its Free Shipping program. If you purchase at least $49.00 of eligible items, you can have them shipped for free. It's easy to spot the eligible items because each one has the Alibris Free Shipping truck icon next to it - or you can use the Free Shipping search function to only browse books that are part of the program. And don't worry about the eligible items being sparse - we browsed the list and found a variety of genres, as well as many current and past bestsellers.
We ranked Alibris a little higher because of its Alibris Cares program, which is dedicated to "improving communities around the world, as well as the planet we all call home." In addition to encouraging employees to support green practices like biking to work and driving hybrid vehicles, Alibris also supports a variety of community programs. In 2009, Alibris supported a program called Year Up, which provides low-income young adults with skills training and work experience to help them build professional careers. Alibris brought on its Year Up apprentice as a full-time employee after he completed the program. Through DonorsChoose.org, Alibris helps teachers in need classroom supplies. Alibris also grants $3,000 annually to fund library projects, and participates in beach cleanup projects and holiday toy and food drives.
- Website is difficult to read and navigate
- Website layout issues
- No ebooks
Our biggest gripe about Alibris is that the site is very difficult to read and it can be time-consuming to find what you're searching for. We tried viewing Alibris in a few different browsers and found it to be a challenge each time. In addition to many of the images failing to load, we also found that the information didn't load correctly when clicking to read the details about a specific title - there was often a full page of white space that we had to scroll through in order to view the titles for sale, user reviews and editorial reviews.
In addition, the reviews on Alibris are laid out with no margins - they run the full width of the page. This makes it easy to lose your spot while reading and creates an additional challenge if you're reading on a tablet rather than a full-size screen.
Alibris doesn't carry ebooks - if you're looking to use your Kindle or NOOK, Alibris won't have any reading options for you.
The Bottom Line
While Alibris offers an extensive selection and a great Free Shipping program, browsing search results and title details was extremely difficult and time-consuming. With so many other online bookstores offering easy-to-use, hassle-free shopping, Alibris has to improve the functionality and design of its site if it wants to be competitive.