On-Line Stores and Vendors

Let me assure you that to us here at First National, you're not just a number. You're two numbers, a dash, three more numbers, another dash, and another number.

— James Estes

Most of my regular purchases (books, music, games, that sort of thing) are done on-line, with the exception of occasional browsing at used book stores and used video game dealers. To be included in this list, I must have made multiple orders through a particular site and have had no significant unresolved negative experiences. I must have also had no negative experiences with spamming or unwanted contact from the store.

The Teaching Company

This is a wonderful company that makes something I didn't realize I wanted until I tried it: college courses on DVD, CD, or MP3 download. They find the best college professors from all over the United States and have them tape a full course in their area of expertise. It's a great way to satisfy curiosity or just get a broader understanding of the world. Always buy their courses on sale; they have a strange pricing structure that puts all courses on sale at least once a year in a rolling schedule, and the non-sale prices are much, much higher.

Powell's Books

I order more from Powell's than from any other on-line store. I highly recommend them over any other on-line bookstore; they have an excellent selection, they carry both used and new books and often have out of print books, all their books are shipped together with free shipping for large orders, and I've never had a problem with their site or order process. On top of that, they're an independent bookseller with a great non-corporate attitude, full of people who just love books. Go here instead of Amazon for books, unless you're looking for something really rare that they just don't have.

On top of their store selection, they also have lots of great articles on their web site. They post new reviews of books every day, from a variety of sources (and can also send the reviews in e-mail). They also have a fantastic selection of interviews of authors, which are good enough that I'm reading through all of them, and plan on buying several books on the basis of the interviews.

CD Connection

I have been making all of my on-line music purchases at CD Connection since about 1990, when their ordering interface was through telnet. They have a great selection, reasonable prices, are located right next to me (so shipping is amazingly fast), and really understand on-line ordering. I've found their Golden Ears rating system to be one of the more reliable rating systems for music that I've encountered. And in all the years that I've been shopping with them, I've never received any spam, just prompt e-mails confirming my order and confirming when it was shipped.


I'm hesitant to list Amazon here, both because I'm sure everyone reading this already knows about them (possibly unlike the other stores listed above), and because I'm not particularly fond of some of their corporate policies (particularly their patent policy). They feel a bit too big-business, too corporate for me to be really happy recommending them, and other people have had problems with spam from them (I've not, personally).

That being said, I do use Amazon as my store for video games (for which there isn't another, better site that I've found) and for DVDs (since CD Connection's selection isn't very good). Their marketplace concept works well if I'm looking for something rare. I'm not fond, however, of how I have to pay shipping separately for each different marketplace vendor (a problem inherent in the concept). I don't recommend Amazon for anything available elsewhere, and in particular Powell's is a significantly better book store, but they have some things that no one else handles as well.

Last modified and spun 2018-09-24