Thrift Books


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Thrift Books is an online bookstore, yes, but it also stands out as an advocate for literacy and resourcefulness.

Founded in 2003, the company offers a library of seven million books. Primarily, they offer used books, but their inventory also includes audio CDs, cards, and maps. Even their used books expand beyond just paperbacks and hardcovers; on their site you can search from a long list of formats, including options like board books and spiral-bound books. They sell all of them for a great price.

Their motto? “Read more, spend less.” Since their start, they have salvaged millions of pounds of books yearly. Truly, they are passionate about their cause.

Based in Kirkland, Washington, this company strives to please the customer, but even more so, they strive to promote reading and make the most of every book. 

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The Good

  • Free shipping on orders over $10
  • Great return policy
  • Loyalty rewards program

Anything that makes a company stand out in a positive way serves as an advantage to that company. For Thrift Books, they have set themselves apart as being passionate about books-not just the new and shiny ones that adorn fancy bookshelves but also (and perhaps especially) older books that have been well loved. Ultimately, their work is about making these used books available for reading-for a great price. That's what they've done well.

In addition, this company has a few features that will give customers more confidence and satisfaction:

  • Shipping. Shipping with Thrift Books isn't bad at all. For any order that meets or exceeds $10, Thrift Books will ship it for free. They ship order to other countries as well, which makes their services even more convenient. While it would be nice if they offered free shipping altogether, a $10 order is a reasonable bar to set, particular because their book prices are low anyway.
  • Returns. Plainly put, the return policy with Thrift Books is awesome too. They allow customers 60 days to return an order they aren't satisfied with! Especially compared to competitors who leave you only two weeks or even a month to make a return, a two-month period is very convenient.
  • A customer loyalty program. As somewhat of a surprise, customer loyalty programs are not widely available with online bookstores. But Thrift Books definitely has one, and that's one aspect that sets them apart. Through their Reading Rewards program, customers earn $5 coupons for every $50 they purchase. In addition, you can sign up for the program for free, get a discount if you refer a friend, and enjoy a 20% off coupon for your birthday.Thrift Books has a lot going for it-they have passion, a good cause, and policies that are hard to beat. As a customer, it's nice to know that your purchases support a cause like theirs.

The Bad

  • No new books
  • No selling books back

While Thrift Books does many things right, they do have a few weaknesses. For the most part, these will be deal breakers for customers with disagreeing needs, not necessarily for the average customer:

  • Types of books. Thrift Books is an obvious candidate for used books, but they may not be the best resource for other types of books. For instance, if you prefer reading brand-new books, you won't find many of those here. Granted, their used books are sure to come in a variety of conditions, so it's not like their books are in bad shape by any means. But plenty of customers prefer to be the first and law owner of a book, and Thrift Books doesn't really cater to that customer base. In addition, you won't find a huge collection of ebooks here. Ebooks are becoming increasingly popular for many reasons, so if you're a customer who prefers them, you won't have much of a need for Thrift Books and their library.
  • No selling back books. In addition, Thrift Books isn't a place where you can sell back books. They salvage used books, yes, but they don't buy back used books. Surely you've heard of book companies who regularly rent out or sell books and then buy them back for a portion of the selling price when the user is finished. Thrift Books doesn't roll that way, so don't count on them to make any money off of your used books.As you can see, what Thrift Books lacks is only a negative for certain consumers. In summary, you won't have a need for their business if you prefer new books or ebooks, or are looking to sell your books. This company is an awesome resource for used books in almost any other format, but for these customers, the company just won't deliver.

The Bottom Line

If you're still on the fence about Thrift Books, you might be happy to know that they have customer reviews and editorial reviews on their company website. Especially in an online world, reviews can help make or break your decision to give someone your business, especially when it comes to beloved books! Aside from reviews, however, Thrift Books does provide several features that are helpful to customers and to the use we get out of books. For many readers, they would be a satisfactory option because of their extensive library, shipping and return policies, and especially their customer loyalty program. For customers whose needs don't match up with what Thrift Books offers, however, another company would be more useful.

Overall, this company has succeeded in targeting a great customer base, establishing policies that are flexible and convenient, and setting up a good cause for people to support. Between these features and their positive reputation, they are a great bookstore to give business to.

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