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Tattered Cover is a Colorado-based chain of bookstores that has taken its large selection online. It has been in business since 1980 and has an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau.

The Good

In our comparison of ten New York Times bestselling-books across the online bookstores we reviewed, Tattered Cover fell in line just behind the three major booksellers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million). You’ll be able to find a variety of new print, ebooks and audio books on Tattered Cover, as well as rent textbooks through its partner site, BookRenterStore.com.

If Tattered Cover doesn’t have the title you’re looking for in stock, click on the Books on Demand page in the main menu. Books on Demand has made waves recently with its Espresso Book Machine, a piece of technology resembling a large Xerox printer that prints and binds any of seven million titles available on its network for you on the spot. This means you don’t have to hunt online for an obscure title or wait for a book that’s backordered – the Espresso Book Machine can print it for you within a few minutes.

Although Tattered Cover’s site could use a facelift (its look is amateurish at best), it does work well: we found each title we looked for quickly and easily and had no need for the Advanced Search option. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, Tattered Cover also features a very extensive Browse section, with each major genre or category broken down into several subcategories.

The Bad

Yes, Tattered Cover’s site does work well, but it still presents some navigational difficulties. For example, that detailed Browse section we mentioned above isn’t found in the main menu, which would be the obvious location for it – instead, it’s on the lefthand sidebar. And the site map is only found on the homepage – which means if you’re on another page and can’t find what you’re looking for, you’ll need to navigate back to the homepage first instead of just scrolling down to the bottom to find the right link.

Tattered Cover’s site is also missing some of the crucial information that should be offered to online shoppers before they commit to a purchase, including terms of service, a privacy policy and a refund policy – none of these is on the site.

If you’re interested in buying used books or selling back your old books, you won’t be able to do so online – Tattered Cover only offers these options in its Colorado store locations.

A final note on Tattered Cover: its prices were consistently some of the highest of any of the online bookstores we reviewed.

The Bottom Line

Although Tattered Cover does offer a robust selection of books, you’ll probably end up paying more here than you would elsewhere. In addition, Tattered Cover’s failure to disclose any terms or service, a privacy policy and a refund policy is a major oversight and a concern for the consumer – you won’t know how secure your personal information is and won’t have any concrete guarantee that you’ll be able to return defective or inadequate merchandise.

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