Books, Books, & More Books from Costco

November 11th, 2008 · 9 Comments

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.

Book Selection from Costco

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.

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9 Responses so far ↓

  1. 1 Ann // 2011.10.18 at 11:11 am

    I love Costco…grandsons worked there while going to college and so I know first-hand about quality control in re to meat, chicken, etc. I enjoy going to the warehouse and looking at the holiday decor…best you can buy for wrap, ribbon, tissue, gift bags…What did we do without Costco?

  2. 2 Ann // 2011.10.17 at 9:58 am

    Have heard that Costco (N. California) will be phasing out the books. I do buy Amazon, but still purchase from Costco…love browing the books and each time I go to Costco (every two weeks), I always hit the book and magazine section. I certainly hope they are not phasing out the book section…any response???

    • 3 Kimberly // 2011.10.18 at 10:33 am

      @Ann – I haven’t heard anything about actual Costco locations getting rid of the book area. I know they stopped carrying books through Costco.com because not enough people ordred them. Perhaps the books don’t sell well in the Northern California area.

  3. 4 Kimberly // 2009.11.03 at 9:43 am

    If I am looking for something specific, the first place I’m likely to go is Amazon because they have a much wider selection than Costco, obviously. However, for the casual browsing for a new book, I’m much more likely to pick something up at Costco because I’m there all the time and always look at the book tables. Plus, there are certain authors that Costco always has newly released books for, and in that case, I know they’ll be cheaper at Costco, or at least just as cheap as Amazon, so I just pick them up when we’re there.

  4. 5 nathan // 2009.10.30 at 8:47 pm

    It seems that the ability to browse more titles by the same author, read reviews, and excerpts sends the advantage to amazon, especially if you have a prime membership.

  5. 6 Rickie Miyake // 2008.11.12 at 5:14 pm

    I noticed that even with sales tax, the books you chose at random at Costco are still cheaper. Most of the books I purchase aren’t real popular titles (John Lennon is the exception) so Costco doesn’t stock them and I buy most from Amazon. I like browsing at Amazon. I never use B&N because they cost more, plus Amazon’s site is configured so well they make it way too easy to buy things! However, when it comes to almost everything, if I can buy it at Costco then I will. I am a Costco addict! Every Saturday morning that’s where you can find me, lol.. whenever we travel, if the place has a Costco I have to check those out, too!

  6. 7 Kimberly // 2008.11.12 at 4:40 pm

    You raise a good point, Rickie, regarding the sales tax. I don’t pay sales tax on Amazon purchases either, so I decided to figure out how that changed things. I calculated that I would still end up saving $2.84 buying these books at Costco and paying sales tax (8.25%) vs. buying the books at Amazon. However, this would obviously depend on the books you are buying and your local sales tax rate.

    I’m just curious, do you get ideas for books that you’d like at Costco & then go buy them at Amazon? I like to browse to find new authors and feel like I just have a hard time doing that at Amazon or even a brick and mortar store like Barnes and Noble.

  7. 8 Rickie Miyake // 2008.11.12 at 3:35 pm

    I love Costco but the advantage of Amazon (at least in California) is not having to pay sales tax. Now with our wonderful two faced governator Arnold Schwarzenegger proposing to raise it so we will be paying 10.25%, not paying sales tax makes a significant difference. I just purchased John Lennon’s biography from Amazon. Costco was cheaper but after adding sales tax, it cost more than Amazon (I have Amazon prime as well, so no shipping charge).

  8. 9 Sharon // 2008.11.11 at 2:21 pm

    Interesting! I’ve never bought books at Costco, because I have Amazon prime, and just assumed the prices were better at Amazon since Amazon always beats out Barnes and Noble. I figured I could wait the two days it takes to get it. Now I see I’ll have to start taking a better look at the book tables at Costco!

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