Monday, September 21, 2009

READERS BEWARE: Stay away from Books-A-Million

Books-A-Million (BAM) claims to be the third largest book retailer in the USA (after Barnes & Noble and Borders). It sells online at and operates about 220 stores in 21 states, mostly in the Midwest and Southeast and the District of Columbia. The company was founded in 1917 as a newsstand in Alabama. For the fiscal year ended 1/31/09, net sales decreased to $513.3 million, down 4.1% from the prior fiscal year.

For $20 per year. BAM offers a “Millionaire’s Club Discount Card” that gives members an additional 10% off purchases online and in stores, even on items that are already discounted. Members also receive special offers and coupons, and find out about new releases, author signings, sales, and more.

I have never been to a BAM store and can’t comment on their physical environments. The book listings on their website show that there is absolutely no reason to buy from them unless you have no other choice.

BAM’s web prices are higher than other online booksellers’ prices. They use phony, inflated, “retail prices” and then offer alleged discount club prices that bring the purchase price to just a few pennies below the cover price. Their prices are typically a few bucks higher than Amazon, B&N, or

To make it even worse, shipping takes much longer than with other online sellers. They want two to three days to process an order and then four to 10 business days for free shipping. They say the total time from ordering a book to receiving a book could be six to 13 business days.

One of my books has a $19.95 cover price. Amazon and B&N usually sell it for $17.95. BAM falsely claims that the “retail price” is “$21.95 and the “club price” is $19.75.They state that club members will “Save 10%.” In reality, club members will save 20 CENTS from the list price— a whopping ONE PERCENT. They say it “usually ships in 5-15 days,” while competitors ship within 24 hours.

This is not an isolated incident. Another book of mine has a $29.95 cover price and is frequently discounted to $26.95. BAM claims the “retail price” is $32.95 and “online price” is also $32.95. The “club price” is $29.65— you save ONE PERCENT.

Ted Kennedy's True Compass is available to everyone for $19.25 at BAM charges $21 unless you pay $20 to join their club. Members will pay $18.90— a big-deal 35 cents less than the Amazon price with no membership fee.


  1. Michael, I just checked my books and they are all priced the same, or lower, than Amazon.