RIP Book Depository: Here's a cheaper, just-as-good alternative


A poster. On the upper half: a headstone emoji next to the Book Depository logo and the closing date of April 26, 2023. On the lower half: a crown emoji and the Blackwell's logo

For those of us who’ve lived in Asia and other places where access to English-language books is limited, Book Depository was a wonderful online resource — we could buy books in English there with free shipping, and all we had to do was wait a little longer for it to arrive at our house. Unfortunately, earlier today, the site announced that it was closing up shop at the end of the month, as part of Amazon’s cost-cutting measures this year. Luckily for us though, since Book Depository was founded many moons ago in 2004, other online bookstores have popped up that also offer a similar mix of English-language books and free shipping.

TL;DR: Blackwell’s has a similarly wide selection of books and is actually cheaper than Book Depository for shipping to Asia.

I profiled some of these in a previous article about how I picked which online bookstores to link to on my book website. But today, I wanted to do a deeper dive into looking for the best Book Depository alternative, based on both breadth of selection and price of shipping, and to try to come up with the closest alternative.

In discussing these alternatives, my friend Cheah Ee Von pointed out that some of the sites I had suggested in my previous article did not have one of the books that she was interested in: Aldo & Hannie Van Eyck: Excess of Architecture. So I will be using that as a proxy for breadth of book selection. As for the shipping cost, I will be setting my address to Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore to see how the alternatives fare compared to Book Depository.

Breadth of selection

I looked for Aldo & Hannie Van Eyck: Excess of Architecture on the online booksellers I previously found (Better World Books, Wordery, Blackwell’s and Book Depository), and from that list only Blackwell’s and Book Depository had the book. Because there was only one viable alternative, I pulled an extra online store from the backlog — Fish Pond — a New Zealand-based online store that sells many things (including books). I didn’t include them previously because I was focusing on more book-specific retailers, but it turns out they do have the book in question in stock. So we have three online stores to compare in terms of pricing: Blackwell’s, Book Depository and Fish Pond.


While Book Depository and its ilk have advertised that they have “free shipping,” they actually bundle a very low shipping cost into the price of the book depending on where the website thinks your location is. Blackwell’s help website is actually honest about this, which I commend them on, despite how confusing it sounds.

To buy and ship to Japan, the book costs:

  • Book Depository: ¥6,168 (46.80 USD)
  • Blackwell’s: ¥5,789 (43.94 USD) 🏆
  • Fishpond: ¥6,900 (52.35 USD)

To do the same to Hong Kong:

  • Book Depository: HK$363.48 (46.31 USD)
  • Blackwell’s: HK$319.60 (40.72 USD) 🏆
  • Fishpond: HK$463 (58.98 USD)

To ship to Singapore:

  • Book Depository: $62.17 (46.89 USD)
  • Blackwell’s: S$56.71 (42.77 USD) 🏆
  • Fishpond: S$60.58 (45.69 USD)

As you can see, Blackwell’s the clear favorite here, at least when it comes to shipping to Asia.

Our pick: Blackwell’s

As we said up top, Blackwell’s not only has a similarly wide selection as Book Depository, it’s actually cheaper to ship books there too (at least based on our three test cases in Asia). In addition, Blackwell’s is owned by Waterstones, which is a brick-and-mortar chain of bookstores in the UK. So in essence, if you buy from them, you’re also contributing to the physical bookstores ecosystem in a small way — a nice cherry on top as we are forced out of buying books from Amazon-owned properties.

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