I buy a lot of books at Costco. Since Dave and I both really like to read we almost always get books when we are at Costco, and definitely look through the 3+ tables of books each week to see if there’s anything that catches our fancy. What’s great about the selection at Costco is that it isn’t too overwhelmingly huge so it is definitely browsable. And that’s how you can find books that you wouldn’t normally even know about if you just shop someplace like Barnes & Noble or Amazon. In the last month or so we’ve bought in the neighborhood of 20 books at Costco (this almost makes it sound like another addiction I have). But what can I say, we like to have a constant stock of books available to read.
The selection at Costco is nicely varied and eclectic enough to hit just about any taste. You can see humor, thrillers, biographies, political, sci-fi, fantasy, and chick lit books all right next to each other. They also have lots of children’s books, health and fitness, reference books, cookbooks, and wonderful coffee table books. And if you get stuck in traffic most days and are looking for something entertaining they also have a selection of audio books, as well. I think that the pricing is certainly competitive with other booksellers. I’ve found Costco’s pricing is always much better than at Barnes & Noble (even with the discount card they have). In comparison with Amazon, the difference is slight and their pricing it is usually pretty similar. Of course, when I buy at Costco I don’t have to pay for shipping or wait for it to be mailed to me. I’m going to do a quick comparison of the prices at Costco vs. Amazon for four of our recent book purchases that cover a variety of genres.
- ‘The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry’ by Kathleen Flinn (paperback):
- $8.99 at Costco; $10.20 at Amazon.
- ‘Remember Me?’ by Sophie Kinsella (paperback):
- $8.99 at Costco; $11.20 at Amazon.
- ‘The Gate House’ by Nelson DeMille (hardcover):
- $15.19 at Costco; $16.79 at Amazon.
- ‘The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life’ by Alice Schroeder (hardback):
- $18.89 at Costco; $21.00 at Amazon.
As you can see, Costco has the better price on every single one of these titles (and I swear, I really did pick them at random from my stack) and at Amazon you’d have to pay shipping on these unless you order more than $25.00 worth. But without even taking shipping into account, we saved $7.13 by buying these 4 books at Costco instead of Amazon. So, that’s not too bad. It almost makes me want to compare the other 16 but I’m not quite that crazy.
In the November 2008 issue of The Costco Connection, you can read all about Costco’s book selection and the team of buyers in ‘The Big Little Bookstore’. There are just four buyers that take care of securing the selection available at Costco, and another buyer for the books available on Costco.com. Remarkably, according to this article Costco is one of the top five booksellers in the United States. While they make sure to have all of the bestsellers available they also hand pick titles that are selected by the buying team but always offering around only 200 titles at one time. Their goal is to offer a savings of 30% to 60% off of the suggested retail prices. But you should read the full article for some other interesting tidbits about the book buying team at Costco.