On-line bookshops

Critics of the Internet shopping revolution have long pointed out that there's nothing quite like nosing around in a dark, musty bookseller's on a slow Sunday afternoon. And they're absolutely right. But shopping for books on the web doesn't stop you doing that, it just adds a sharp new edge to your literary life
Click to follow
The Independent Culture


Amazon, the US-based on-line bookseller, must be one of the most successful commercial Internet sites in history. Its owners have unwittingly done far more than than merely construct a successful virtual bookshop. Their techniques have been adopted by nearly every on-line retailer: an attractive no-nonsense design combined with an extremely powerful search engine. There's hardly a major commercial web site on the Internet that doesn't have a link to Amazon's main site. Earlier this year, the company opened a UK branch, which means that British users, once registered, can expect to have books thumping through their letterbox within a couple days of ordering them.




With Amazon's way of doing things so popular, it's easy to forget there are other ways to attract readers. Books on-line has come up with its own innovation. When you log onto the main page, you'll see a list of "book clubs" covering topics from science to cookery. The idea is simple: you can sign up for a club in your chosen subject area (it's largely designed for professionals) then buy books and chat with like-minded people. The site also acts as an information resource. It is based exclusively in America, which means there can be a long wait for your books, but the setup does manage to help you avoid the feeling of `thrashing-around-in-infinity' that some commercial websites can arouse.


THE BEST OF THE REST www.books.com HHH

Similar to Amazon in approach and feel but only based in America. It also has a virtual cafe so you can chat to other visitors.

www.bargainbooks.com HHH A friendly, relaxed US-based site.

www.waterstones.co.uk HH

The on-line version of Waterstone's booksellers. Its user interface is perhaps slightly clumsier than some but, like the new Amazon branch, it's based in Britain.

bookshop.blackwell.co.uk HH

Blackwell's has for a long time been an academic bookseller, which has recently begun to build up a high-street presence. However, the website retains a slightly intellectual feel.

www.mayabooks.ndirect.co.uk HH

A small website offering books on environmental issues and agriculture. Offbeat but with an intriguingly alternative array of titles.