Jakarta. Payday is approaching and we bet you’re already making a mental list of new stuff to buy. Bookworms are now probably dreaming about going through shelves to browse books and smell their covers.
But some of them – just like Marcel Proust – might not even want to get out of bed at all. Why go outside, when you can get all the books you want online?
There are plenty of options if you want to buy Indonesian-language books. Chain bookstores like Gramedia and Toko Gunung Agung have their own online stores.
There are also smaller shops like BukuKita.com and Bukabuku.com, or indie stores existing mostly on Instagram like Dema Buku and Indie Book Corner.
But what if you want to read books in English? How can you get the cheapest prices and skimp on shipping? Read on, this list is for you.
Yes, this is the same ubiquitous store you see at Indonesian airports and most of Jakarta’s malls. Periplus also has a newly expanded online store with quite a large collection of mostly best-selling books and popular magazines. It also offers many local payment options, handy when you've forgotten your PayPal password again.
Pre-orders are also available for sure-fire best-sellers, basically any title by J. K. Rowling or Lang Leav. All you have to do is pay a Rp 100,000 ($7) down payment and the rest later when the book is ready for shipping.
This Indonesia-based chain bookstore has been around since 1985 and has a membership program called Periplus Elite Club that offers generous discounts.
But the best thing about online shopping from local stores like Peripuls is that there are always many promo deals available in partnership with local banks.
Shipping is a bit of a mixed experience with Periplus. You'll get best-selling books in a matter of days. But books that have to be imported will usually come much later. Though the store promises 12-20 working days, a month is probably a more realistic prediction.
2. Open Trolley
Open Trolley is based in Singapore but also has an Indonesian website, opentrolley.co.id. Compared to Periplus, Open Trolley has a simpler, easier to navigate website.
It also has book recommendations for you, categorized by genres and themes, for example, "Love Poems" and "Children Books about Grief."
With over 10 million books in its collection, you can waste a whole weekend in your bed just browsing for your favorite titles and some serendipitous finds. But don’t be shocked by the price tags! The books on Open Trolley are generally more expensive than on the other stores in this list.
Shipping from Open Trolley is swift, but there is one thing that might bug you after you checkout: payment confirmation. If you transfer the payment from a BCA or Mandiri account, it will be confirmed almost instantly. But if you pay using other banks, you'll have to wait for Open Trolley’s staff to confirm your payment manually, which can take up to 3 days.
3. Books & Beyond
Like Periplus, you can also find plenty of Books & Beyond branches in malls in Greater Jakarta. Collection-wise, Books & Beyond is no match for Periplus or Open Trolley. But the books here are the cheapest.
Two good things: you can also shop for toys and stationery at Books & Beyond online and it offers the largest range of e-payment options.
The downside? It only ships with JNE.
4. Book Depository
UK-based Book Depository earns a lot of praise for its huge collection, boasting over 17 million titles. But the best thing is the free delivery to 100 countries, Indonesia included. The prices listed on the site already include shipping and taxes.
Bookworms often praise Book Depository (mostly for its free shipping) over Amazon, but it has actually been an Amazon company since the online shopping behemoth acquired it in 2011.
Now we come to the three most annoying things that always happen when you buy from online stores that don’t have a local site or branch: you have to pay with a credit card or a PayPal account,; it's more difficult to track your order; and you have wait up to 1.5 months for your book to arrive.
Yes, Book Depository has great prices, but you still need that extra patience.
If all else fails, you can find pretty much anything new or used on Amazon. Just make sure that the book you’re looking for ships to Indonesia.
Usually people go to Amazon for the cheaper prices, even after shipping (and after comparing them with the Book Depository prices).
For example, a hardcover edition of Yuval Noah Harari’s hit "Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow" is $26.50 on Book Depository, $38 on Open Trolley but only $19.85 on Amazon. It's true Amazon’s prices don’t include shipping and import taxes but if you order 3 books or more, they might still end up the cheapest option.
Just like Book Depository, Amazon is also for you patient online shoppers – admittedly, a rare breed. Also, depending on where you live, sometimes books from Amazon don’t get delivered straight to your door. You might have to pick them up at the post office and pay your customs fees (if necessary) there.
- If you want more payment options and easy tracking of your order, go for Indonesia-based online bookstores (Periplus and Books & Beyond) or those with an Indonesian site (Open Trolley). But if cheap prices are everything and you don’t mind waiting, go for Book Depository or Amazon.
- Looking for bargains and don't mind the musty smell of secondhand books? Try browsing on applications such as Carousell and Prelo. Marketplaces like Tokopedia and Bukalapak also have some secondhand book sellers if you look carefully. Otherwise, Instagram is also a good place to find out-of-print gems. Try @tokoami, @sarasvati.bookshop (which also sells books in French, Dutch and German) and @bedakbuku.