A subsidiary of eBay, Half.com has been in business since 2000 and sells books, music, movies and games via third-party vendors. Half.com is a popular go-to site for online book purchases, particularly by college students seeking good deals on textbooks. Half.com says it offers products at “half off the list price” – hence the name.
Half.com features lots of new and used print books, as well as some ebooks and audio books. To the increased delight of college students who were visiting Half.com for cheap textbook prices, the site also now offers textbook rentals for a period of a month, quarter or semester. Some of the print books can be rented as well.
Half.com offers most of the features you’d typically expect to find in an online bookstore, including Browse by Category, a sale section and a wish list that you can save for later reference. Although the Browse by Category results are somewhat difficult to read due to the small fonts and pictures, viewing a specific title is easier on the eyes and purchasing options are broken down into categories of Brand New, Like New, Very Good, Good and Acceptable. There are also descriptions listed by the vendors such as “spine cracked” or “some minor cover damage” so you can get a better idea of the quality of book you’ll be purchasing if it’s not brand new. There is also a small sidebar that will suggest similar books to you based on the one you’re looking at.
In comparing a list of New York Times bestselling-books on Half.com with the other online bookstores we reviewed, we found that although Half.com’s prices are on the lower end of the spectrum, it certainly doesn’t offer the titles at the promised “half off the list price,” nor does it carry a hearty selection. We had a lot of luck finding print and audio versions of the titles, but ebook versions were sparse.
We didn’t find Half.com’s basic search function to return results as accurately as we would have liked – the advanced search function worked much better, and we recommend using this to find what you’re looking for more efficiently.
Another downside of Half.com is the lack of reviews: there are no editorial reviews, and users can rate books from one to five stars but the site doesn’t offer the option for them to write a review. If you know what you’re looking for or reading the book jacket’s plot description is enough for you, then you may not mind shopping Half.com – but if you want more information before opening your wallet, you’ll have to look up reviews elsewhere.
Half.com has an F rating by the Better Business Bureau. Of the 278 complaints filed against Half.com in the past three years, the company has failed to respond to 169 of them.
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