Friday, March 5, 2010

Barnes and Noble vs Amazon

I'm in a scrounging for books frame of mind this week. I've been reading a couple of interesting books but have decided to wait and review them with other related titles.

In the mean time I was poking around the Barnes and Noble and Amazon websites. I like to compare them. I also find it very interesting to have open in one window and open in a different one, but that's another story. Anyway, at Barnes and Noble my click pattern goes like this: Kids>Subjects>See All Subjects>History. Here I can search inside of this little history niche for sports or dogs or art or whatever which often conjures up some unique history titles. In contrast, at Amazon I click first on Books>Children's Books>History & Historical Fiction. Here I can't search in this narrower history field. And check out how different the top selling children's history lists are at each site:

I see some titles I gotta read! I also see some titles on that Amazon list that make me go “huh?” Would you call 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea a history book??? And that Leprechaun in Late Winter title kind of threw me for a loop. But it turns out it does introduce a historical figure, Lady Gregory. And what is up with two Anne Franks and two Holocaust titles appearing within the top ten on the Barnes and Noble list? I also notice that no single title is shared by both lists.

The bottom line is that I like searching for books at But I like how the reviews are organized at Amazon. I like that shipping is free on orders of $25 or more at Amazon and usually order from them. But if I need a single title I call my local Barnes and Noble and if they don't have it they order it for me and I pick it up at the store without paying shipping. And I love their store. Sometimes, on those rare evenings when the kids are hither and yon, and we're not sure what to do with ourselves, my husband and I go hang out at Barnes and Noble. It's nice.

So, which site do you prefer?


  1. To be honest, I haven't tried searching as you suggested. I usually have a book in mind. Last year I had several B&N gift cards to use and I was frustrated that nearly every book I searched for was cheaper on Amazon, sometimes significantly so. In the end, I found books that were about the same price as on Amazon and then ordered those. As I recall B&N had free shipping on orders over $25. I tried to place one order using all 4 gift cards, but they would only take three at a time, so I had to go all the way back out, figure out how to combine my order to make two orders, each over $25. Just a frustrating experience.

    I will definitely try searching on B&N as you suggest. I have been frustrated with Amazon in that respect. Too many results seem to be skewed towards what is popular and not what is relevant to the topic.

  2. I do see that the free shipping on orders of $25 or more is offered at both places. I just checked, but I didn’t see mention of it on either site until I started filling up a shopping cart. I think Amazon offered it first, and me being a creature of habit have always associated it with them. I know how frustrating gift cards and computer ordering can be. Don’t even get me started on an experience I had with an i-tunes gift card!

  3. I am definitely a BN girl. I find I have an easier time searching their site, and something about its bookishness really appeals to me. I mean, Amazon is selling EVERYTHING and BN is about books. I like that. Plus, I often receive BN gift cards and with their loyalty card, I often get items for about the same price (or cheaper) as Amazon.