One of the most significant losses I truly felt at the onset of the pandemic was the inaccessibility of bookstores. Gone were my days of whiffing pages, caressing spines, and scanning aisles for handsome editions; in the spirit of social distancing, I had to make do with endlessly scrolling online bookstore catalogues. Of course, this led me to a new obsession: purchasing books I wouldn’t have enough time to read, and exploring the best online bookstores available. And then came the announcement: Book Depository would deliver to the Philippines again.
My experience ordering from Book Depository to the Philippines during the pandemic
What sets Book Depository apart from other online bookstores are its extensive selection of books (over 20 million) and free worldwide shipping (with no minimum spend). However, for most of the pandemic, they stopped shipping to the Philippines due to logistic difficulties. So when they brought back their services, I already had a long list of obscure books to buy. It didn’t help that when they reopened, they gave massive discounts on most of their books. My bookish heart was ecstatic!
Admittedly, I had to stop myself from checking out a cart worth ₱30,000. A friend advised me to try ordering just a few books to observe how the UK-based bookstore operated during the pandemic. So, after months of hesitating and researching Book Depository Philippines reviews, I finally ordered three books on 29 Apr 2021.
How long does Book Depository take to deliver to the Philippines?
On its website, Book Depository claims to ship orders to the Philippines in 20 to 30 business days. That doesn’t include the time the package would stay at the local post office (for some reason, the PO likes to simmer the books for weeks to months before delivering them to you).
Personally, mine took way longer than the ETA, so I asked to get refunded.
Fortunately, Book Depository’s customer service is quick and reliable — in less than a week, they refunded me in full.
After completely forgetting about my order, I finally received my books on 8 Oct 2021. You do the math. I got in touch with the customer service department to let them know I’d received my books despite the refund, but they let me keep them, anyway. (Yay, free books!)
How much is the shipping fee?
While Book Depository claims to provide free shipping, the delivery person charged me a ₱220 handling fee. Other Book Depository reviews claim the handling fee is only ₱112; meanwhile, others say they never had to pay anything.
Regardless, PHLPost riders apparently only started charging this fee during the pandemic, as it supposedly covers their hazard pay. Personally, I think it’s a reasonable price as it comes per delivery rather than per book. However, it may be best to confirm what this fee is for, or at least ask for a receipt from the rider.
It’s also worth noting that since the pandemic, Book Depository has been delivering all items straight to the customers’ doorsteps.
Is it safe to order from Book Depository?
Technically, it is. You won’t be held at gunpoint, but your wallet will certainly suffer.
Jokes aside, unless you desperately need a book ASAP, ordering from Book Depository is a proven feat. As I previously mentioned, if your orders never reach you, you can always ask for a refund. However, I’d suggest trying it out with a few books first, so you won’t be risking large amounts of money from the get-go.
Does Book Depository accept cash on delivery (COD)?
No. Book Depository only accepts credit or prepaid card payments. I used my BPI Debit Mastercard and found it effortless to pay. Some Book Depository reviews say PayMaya works as well.
If you don’t have a card yet, I suggest you open a digital bank account, which will also benefit you in the long run. Book Depository accepts PayPal, VISA, MasterCard, AMEX, and Maestro. Meaning, cards like the GCash Mastercard, ING Visa Card, or Grab Mastercard should work as well.
TL;DR: Pros and cons of ordering from Book Depository in the Philippines
Obviously, ordering from Book Depository has its pros and cons. Aside from the painfully slow delivery, the bookstore also doesn’t provide tracking numbers once orders are shipped out.
Also, a point to consider: Book Depository is now owned by Amazon, which has time and again been criticised for tax evasion and monopolistic behaviour. The multinational company has also received backlash for its alleged unethical treatment of workers and customers, as well as its discriminatory product selection. (About the latter, I would say Book Depository has an incredibly diverse and inclusive book selection.)
On the other hand, Book Depository’s breadth of collection and frequency of book sales continues to be nonpareil. So consider all these as you face your moral dilemma. You’re welcome.
Alternatives to Book Depository in the Philippines
Outside Book Depository, I’ve tried ordering hard-to-find books from indie sellers like Blithe Books Independent Bookstore. With a very accommodating team, Blithe Books has helped me source the exact editions I wanted.
Bookshelf PH also has a promising collection of both local and international books, but I especially appreciate their catalogue of Filipino books.
There are several other online bookstores you can shop from nowadays. In fact, you can explore the following bookstores and publishing houses on Shopee or Lazada.
- Fully Booked: Shopee, Lazada
- National Book Store: Shopee, Lazada
- Precious Pages Bookstore: Shopee, Lazada
- Bookshelf PH: Shopee, Lazada
- Biblio: Shopee
- Anvil Publishing Inc: Shopee, Lazada
- UP Press: Shopee, Lazada
- UST Publishing House: Shopee, Lazada
- Ateneo de Manila University Press: Shopee, Lazada
- Adarna House Official: Shopee, Lazada
- Rex Book Store: Shopee, Lazada
- OMF Literature: Shopee, Lazada
- CSM Publishing: Shopee, Lazada
- Kado Publishing: Shopee
For a more detailed list of online bookstores, you can read my previous article here.
I hope this Book Depository review helps you decide whether to shop here or not. Have a fruitful year of reading!