Do 'Amazon Beating' Deals Save You Money?

Bookworld has a deal currently running where it will chop ten per cent off the price Amazon asks for a book for Australian customers. On the surface, that seems like a great deal, but the reality is a little more complicated.

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Amazon is effectively the "brand name" for book sales online, so it would appear to be a rather canny strategy to attract customers, and perhaps a way to save some money on books if you're a keen reader. As a side note, if you're not a keen reader, you really should be. That aside, on closer examination, there are a few catches with the Bookworld deal. For a start, it's off its "Citizens" price, which means you've got to be a signed-up loyalty customer.

That's not a huge hurdle, but a larger one is that it's essentially a redemption scheme. Bookworld doesn't actually beat Amazon on price at the checkout; instead you've got to order the book through them, take note of the price at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk including all postage costs, and then fill out a form so that Bookworld can assess your claim. It can't be part of a promotional deal, and the ISBN has to be identical for it to count. It only counts for physical books and audio books. If they agree that the Amazon price was cheaper, they'll refund you plus ten per cent via the same payment method you used to pay.

My wife alerted me to this particular deal, because she was chasing up pricing for Charlaine Harris' latest mass-market Sookie Stackhouse novel, Deadlocked. Yes, she sometimes likes popular trash, just to get that out of the way. In any case, a quick comparison of the pricing for the latest book is an interesting study. At the time of writing, Bookworld claims that its citizen price is 30 per cent off RRP at $31.49 with free delivery. The same thing on Amazon.co.uk is £8.86, plus another £8.48 for delivery. You'd be mad to order a single book through Amazon, but let's continue regardless. A rough currency conversion suggests that's around $26, much cheaper than the Bookworld price, if you're interested. Bookworld relies on a single particular currency converter for its prices, so there is a tiny bit of wriggle room there as well.

There's a larger hurdle that's worth keeping in mind and it's the very simple fact that Amazon is far from your only choice when it comes to book purchasing online. Using Lifehacker favourite Booko to check the price for the exact same book finds it delivered for around $21. Even with Bookworld's redemption scheme, you'd pay $23.40 after waiting.

Or, in other words, while it's feasible to use price-beating deals, nothing beats a bit of online research to make sure that you're getting the best possible deal.

That's my take. What's yours? Tell us in the comments.

Lifehacker's weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.


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