I have had it with buying books at a bookstore especially if that bookstore happens to be a Crossword – their in-store staff simply don’t make the cut. Having no idea about what books they have in stock they invent irrelevant stories to ward off possible purchases. In short I would not recommend buying books from them. The issue with Landmark on the other hand is the perennial hovering of their in-store staff which is annoying and reminds me of the bookstalls of some “large names” when they appear at the Kolkata Book Fair. Much as I like to buy books after I touch them and read the print size the callous approach taken by these two leave me with no other option but to move to online book purchases. On a side note, Landmark scores over Crossword in being prompt to reply to e-mail book requests and transaction related queries but is just about it.
Runa suggested trying out NDTV Shopping for books. I tried them out and they seem to have understood what good service is about. I ordered, purchased and packed a book to be delivered to my mother at Kolkata on Sunday. She’s received it in an excellent packaging on Tuesday (that’s yesterday) evening. I had purchased two books for myself too on Monday however a glitch with the payment gateway (the usual browser related stuff I assume) put the approval in a limbo. I exchanged a couple of mails with the mail address provided and lo behold !! – the order has been cancelled (which I had requested) and the transaction amount refunded. All this without a glitch. The only thing that could be better was the search engine. That is an important part of the shopping cart experience and the current search engine just does not allow too much modification allowing one to figure out the book of choice. Oh !! The prices are nicely below those offered by the brick-n-mortar bookstores.
Update: As someone who suggested so persuasively on IM, kudos to Indiaplaza (formerly Fabmall) for an excellent job.