Book Depository: Ordering from the Philippines (Updated Oct. 26, 2021)

Book Depository

Update 3 (Oct. 26, 2021): Added an FAQ section to address a few questions that keep coming up :)
Update 2 (Oct. 20, 2020): Got refunded for the second book I ordered just before lockdown, but said book also turned up at the local post office and I had to go pick it up
Update 1 (Aug.14, 2020): Got refunded for one of two books I ordered just before lockdown

Thought I’d share my experience with Book Depository because I’ve googled about this a few times. Why not add my own experience to the internet, right? LOL. Okay, here it is.

Note: I do not work for Book Depository so I cannot answer any specifics about your orders from them. Best to go to their website and send them an inquiry if you have questions about your orders. :)

First, what’s Book Depository?

It’s an online book retailer that offers free delivery to over 130 countries worldwide. They ship from the UK and Australia, and their prices are only slightly higher than other retailers, but I’m assuming that’s to cover shipping.

You can pay via credit card or Paypal. Based on my experience, if you pay via Paypal, the address where you’re sending your order need to match your Paypal address. I once tried to use Paypal to buy a book that was going to someone else, but it wouldn’t push through so I had to use a credit card. Something like this happened to me before, but on a different online shop. (It was a Big Cartel shop; Big Cartel is a platform for artists and makers.) I couldn’t use my Paypal to order something that I wanted shipped somewhere else. I think it’s some kind of check and balance thing maybe, which is good, but also kind of inconvenient for me, personally. Anyway, there’s that.

My Book Depository History

The first time I ordered a book from Book Depository was in 2012. I ordered a huge book for my father and I think it took almost two months before it was delivered to my door.

Book Depository’s shipping info (for the Philippines) estimates 7-10 business days if shipping from the UK and 10-14 business days if shipping from Australia. I believe that’s a fair estimate, but I think it’s because our local postal system leaves much to be desired that it takes so much longer for stuff to get delivered.

I ordered four more times after that but they were for other people (winners of my blog giveaways) and I’m not sure how long it took, but I’m pretty sure they all got their books. I’m assuming that because I didn’t get any complaints.

The next time I ordered something for myself was in 2016. It was the Q&A A Day for Writers Journal and I think it also took over a month before I received it. I ordered three more times after that — all books, all cheaper than what was available in local bookstores at that time (I took advantage of the sales and promos) — and it was more or less the same. More than a month before the books arrived straight to my door. I never had to go to the post office.

That time I ordered a deck of cards, not a book

Middle of September I purchased an oracle deck. It was on sale (almost 50% off!) so I just had to get it. The deck is available here in the Philippines but I figured I was getting it for so much less. I wasn’t sure that it would get delivered to my door, but I was willing to risk it. The deck shipped out from the UK end of September.

Fast forward to sometime this month (November), more than six weeks later, and I still didn’t receive the deck. I thought about calling our local post office, but I couldn’t find a working phone number. I decided to haul ass to the post office and inquire in person.

I wouldn’t advise doing this though if you don’t have a parcel notice from your local post office. I obviously didn’t have one, but a few months ago my hubby managed to pick up a package from the post office without a parcel notice, so I thought it wasn’t going to be a problem. (Edit: I asked him about it after I published this post and he said he had a tracking number from the sender so the post office was able to locate his package.)

I live in Taguig City, by the way. The main post office is an old structure and it’s pretty cramped inside. The parcel section looks chaotic, but they do have some kind of system for organizing the packages. I mean, they know where to find things as long as you have a tracking number or a parcel notice.

Picking up my package at the post office

This bit might deserve a whole other post, to be honest, but I’m putting it here. You can skip this part if you don’t want to read my rambling about my post office experience.

So I went to the post office and asked about my package. The guy at the parcel section asked for a tracking number. Oops. I told them that I ordered my stuff in September and haven’t received any parcel notice. I also asked what kind of tracking number they were looking for and he explained that the sender usually provides a tracking number, but in my head I was already sure that I didn’t have one. I took out my phone and pulled up the email from Book Depository and it only has the order number — pretty sure that wasn’t it.

Anyway, the guy asked where I lived and when I told him he went over to another section where some guys were organizing mail. He asked this other guy to help me by checking if there was a parcel notice for me. It took about two minutes but they found it! Apparently, it was just there, ready for delivery to our building. The other guy handed it over to me and said something about delivering only once a month. Huh? They only do delivery once a month? Is that what he meant? I wasn’t sure and I didn’t ask anymore because I was itching to get my package. I thanked the mail guys and went back to the parcel section.

So, back at the parcel section, I gave the parcel notice to the guy and he looked for my package on the shelf near the door. (So I was just practically standing next to my package and didn’t know it.) He found it and told me to pay at the admin section. I paid PHP112 bucks (storage fee or something) for my parcel. The last time I picked up a book here (I won it from a giveaway and it was mailed by the author), it cost 100 bucks, but that was a few years ago. Anyway, I went back to the parcel section to get my package, thanked the parcel guy because he was actually super helpful, and headed home.

And that was it. My stuff from Book Depository took more than six weeks to land in my hands.

Update 1 (Aug. 14, 2020): Ordering during the lockdown

March 2020, I ordered two books the day before we went into lockdown due to COVID-19. It just happened to be the last day for a discount code and I decided to use it. Anyway, most of the world went on lockdown and I saw Book Depository’s advisory about the delivery disruption. I thought my order would be cancelled (per their advisory), but then later I received two separate emails (two days apart) that my books have been shipped. I figured my order got through before they officially stopped delivery to the Philippines.

So we went on lockdown and our postal services closed. Weeks later they began operating again, but a whole lotta mail and packages still weren’t being delivered (I knew this because the PHLPost social media pages were full of inquiries and complaints). I just assumed that my books arrived in PHLPost but were buried somewhere in storage.

In June, I emailed Book Depository and asked if they can give me a tracking number that I can use to track my package with PHLPost. They responded that they do not have tracking codes for their free standard shipping. Oh well. I kind of figured that but I wanted to be sure. So, there was no way for me to track my parcel with PHLPost but I was willing to wait a few more months to give our postal system a chance to get through their massive backlog.

Anyway, a few days ago I received an email from Book Depository that one of the books I ordered was returned to them “as the postal service were unable to deliver to the address provided.” They apologized that it took so long and refunded the item. They also offered a 10% discount as a gesture of goodwill. The refund appeared on my card two days later. How fast was that, right?

The book that got returned/refunded was the book that supposedly shipped out first (based on the shipping confirmation email I received from TBD). I actually felt relieved that the book wasn’t lost in storage in the Philippines. As of writing this (14 Aug 2020), I haven’t received an email about the other book getting returned/refunded, but I’m really hoping it also gets returned so I won’t have to think about PHLPost misplacing it.

Update 2 (Oct. 30, 2020): What happened to the other book

When I didn’t hear anything about the other book, I decided to email Book Depository again and ask if, by any chance, it also got returned to them. I emailed them on Aug. 28, but their first response referred to the first book that was refunded so I had to clarify. After a few back-and-forths they finally replied that the second book was not returned to them, but that a refund has already been processed for it (that email was dated Sept. 25). I didn’t ask for the refund, mind you, but I thanked them anyway because by then I figured the book was lost. The refund got credited back to me that same day.

Fast forward to a few days ago when I decided to check our mailbox in our building. I rarely check our mailbox because we don’t really get urgent mail. Anyway, lo and behold, there was a parcel notice from our post office. The date stamped on it was Oct. 6. Gah. To make a long story short, I went to our post office yesterday, paid the PHP112 fee and got my parcel, which, as you probably guessed, turned out to be the missing book. Wow. It only took seven months.

I thought about emailing Book Depository about it, but then what would that do? Will they tell me to return it? Too expensive for me to send it back to the UK. Will they ask for the refund back? I doubt it. I didn’t ask for the refund – they processed that on their own (it was probably easier than trying to find a missing book). And from what I’ve read on other blogs and reviews, they’re quick to refund or send replacements for lost books (and sometimes the buyer ends up with two copies – the replacement and their original order which arrives later). So yeah, I’m going to keep this one.

So, is Book Depository worth it?

I still think it is, if you’re willing to wait and if your local post office is somewhat organized and efficient enough. I mean, using services like ShippingCart also takes a while, maybe not as long, but they cost a bit more. I think Book Depository is good for books and other paper items that you can’t find in the local bookstores.

[Before the pandemic happened] I haven’t had any problems and I only had to go to the post office once, and that was for a non-bookish item. The one time I had to go to the post office was for a deck of cards. I’m still not 100% sure that books will always get delivered to my door because our local postal system is a bit inconsistent.

[Oct. 30, 2020] I don’t think I would order from Book Depository and use my local address while we are still on any level of lockdown or quarantine or during this whole pandemic for that matter. Our local postal system is still quite slow and I hate picking up stuff at their office. Also, Book Depository is not delivering to the Philippines as of this second update. If I really really really wanted to buy something, I would consider using a shipping or forwarding service (if I deem that whatever I’m buying is worth the additional expense).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Note: These are based on my personal experience and if other people have shared instances that are different from mine I have noted them down. Feel free to read through the comments to see other people’s experiences with Book Depository. :)

Do Book Depository orders get delivered straight to your door?

Pre-pandemic (that is, before March 2020): Yes, most of my book orders from Book Depository were delivered to my door by the local postman and I did not have to pay anything upon delivery. The one time I had to pick up my parcel at the post office was when I ordered a deck of cards and I paid a PhP 112 fee at the post office.

Pandemic Year 1: In Oct 2020, I received a parcel notice from Philpost and I had to go to the post office to pick up my package from Book Depository. I also paid the PhP 112 fee.

Pandemic Year 2: Based on a few comments from this year (2021) and from other feedback I’ve read on different channels, some people have either 1) received notices or emails from Philpost about their parcels and were asked to pay custom/delivery fees first before they get their parcels, or 2) received their parcels at their addresses and were asked to pay custom/delivery fees by the one handling the delivery. (I have not used my PH address for Book Depository orders this year so I have not experienced any of these.)

How long does it take for Book Depository orders to arrive?

It can take 4-6 weeks or longer. Sometimes it can take months.

Does Book Depository give you a tracking number for your order?

For deliveries to the PH: As far as I know, NO, they do not provide tracking codes for their standard shipping.

In July 2021, I ordered a couple of books and had them sent to a US address. Book Depository sent tracking details for the USPS tracker. I don’t know if they alway do this for US deliveries or if they also do this for deliveries to other countries.

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Have you tried Book Depository? How was your experience?