Dover Publications: Great Book Selection Starting at $1
Written: Oct 21, 2003 (Updated Dec 20, 2004)
My son just turned 4 and we decided to invite his entire preschool class to his birthday party. Of course, that required me to make up goody bags. For other parties I had bought treats at Oriental Trading Company but I found that most toys are sold in units of one dozen. If you have 14 children at the party but have to buy 24 of each toy, you end up with a lot of extra stuff. Plus, Oriental Trading Company generally charges shipping for purchases under $60. Trying to think of something new, I found dover publications.
Dover Publications has lots and lots of little activity and coloring books for $1 or $1.50. They make perfect goody bag treats or stocking stuffers. The nice part is that they come in tons of themes: dolls, astronauts, circus, Christmas, Halloween, you name it, so you can give activity books that match your party theme. There are also mini-books of stickers and fake tattoos. The nice part about buying these mini-activity books as party favors is that they are sold individually so you can buy just the number you need.
In addition to the mini-books, there are lots of other, larger-sized, activity and coloring books. The site also sells classic novels at lower prices than you would find on many other sites. Most of the classics are older ones that no longer have any copyright. As a result, Dover can sell them cheaply because they don't need to pay royalties.
Dover also has a smaller selection of postcards, stationary and other odds and ends. There are lots of vintage designs available on their merchandise that seem unique and interesting.
THE WEB SITE
If I had to grade the web site, I would give it a B. It operates pretty well. The search engine will pretty much find what you are looking for but I had to try the terms a couple of ways (for example "Clown" and "Circus") to find all the activity books that would fit a circus party theme.
The web site does not have all of the bells and whistles that Amazon has. There are no customer reviews and the site doesn't recommend books that you would like.
Ordering was pretty easy. I didn't have to go through multiple pointless steps.
PACKAGING AND SHIPPING
I ordered 19 mini-books. They came packed in a large cardboard envelope which adequately protected the books during the shipping process. The web site said that the books might take up to 9 days to reach my house. As it turns out, the books arrived in 3 days.
The shipping costs for the 48 continental U.S. states are printed below. They also ship to Canada and elsewhere for slightly higher shipping.
Pre-tax Total Order / Shipping Cost:
$19.99 or less $5.00
$20.00 to $49.99 $6.50
$50.00 or more $8.00
I got an email when the site received my order. I did not get an email when my items shipped.
Returns could be difficult. If I had to make a return, I would need new packaging because I had to rip the packing envelope to get it open. Also, there was no information on the packing slip on how to make returns and there was no postage label to use for a return package.
Here is the information on returns from the web site: Dover books may be returned, no questions asked, for up to 30 days from the date you receive them for a full refund of the original purchase price, less shipping and handling. Please visit our Returns Department to obtain a packing list and label before shipping an item back to us.
STEALS AND DEALS
I don't think there are any ways to get discounts on this site. I couldn't find any coupons on line. I joined their email service about 3 months ago and they have never sent a discount.
Update on 12/5/03: I did finally get an email from their subscription service that offered me free shipping on orders over $50.
I think this is a great site and would return here for more mini-books or other classics.
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Books and Magazines: Amazon.com; ValueMags; Magazine Values.
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Photo Developing: Shutterfly; Snapfish.
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Miscellaneous: 1-800 contacts; Movie Tickets.com; Drugstore.com.
Rebate Sites: Upromise; Ebates.
Before you start shopping, check out my tips on how to save money by shopping on the internet . I have also included some coupon codes and plan to add more as I find them.