What is the best way to ship something from the Internet to Asia?
September 3, 2007 5:20 PM   Subscribe

I would like to ship a gift from North America to Southeast Asia. Shipping costs from Amazon are very high - >= the cost of the item (a hardcover book). Would it be best to ship from Amazon, buy it locally and ship from here, or find an online retailer in Southeast Asia that stocks the item I'm looking for (would need suggestions here as well!)? I need 3-4 weeks shipping time max. Also, would I generally need to worry about customs if I ship this as a gift?
posted by mebibyte to Shopping (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Finding an online retailer in southeast Asia would probably make the most sense. Although to help you we would really need to know which country.
posted by grouse at 5:26 PM on September 3, 2007

Borders has a store in Singapore, so they might be able to ship from there. Also Kinokuniya, a Japanese bookstore that has a few stores in the US. These companies might also have stores in Malaysia, where English is widely spoken and there is a market for English-language publications.
posted by Quietgal at 5:36 PM on September 3, 2007

I'd buy it locally and DHL it, that's what I used to do at least.
posted by whoaali at 6:03 PM on September 3, 2007

It depends on the weight of the item. It costs around $11 to ship one book from Amazon.com to Southeast Asia. It cost me around $6 in shipping costs when a Malaysian friend asked me to mail him an English-translated manga (bought locally).

Check if the book is listed on Acmamall, formerly Acmabooks. The website looks shady, it used to look much better and more trustworthy. (I once ordered a Harry Potter book from them, while living in Malaysia.) If not, Acmabooks seems to offer a special-order service. Haven't tried it out myself though.
posted by Xere at 7:35 PM on September 3, 2007

Also Arthursbooks. They and Acmamall seem to ship pretty much anywhere, but shipping rates get ridiculous outside of Malaysia and Singapore.

If your friend is outside of Malaysia or Singapore, Amazon.com is still ridiculously expensive, and no other service shows up ... it may be cheaper to do social engineering and get someone in one of those countries to buy the book there, then ship it out cheaply from the local post office. The slowest shipping they have will likely get there within 2 weeks, at most.

I recall Brunei having this really gorgeous, well-stocked bookstore, but can't find any online storefronts.
posted by Xere at 7:47 PM on September 3, 2007

Customs depends on the country. When I lived in Thailand, I was sent a gift (a set of classical music cds) where the value was about US$60, and I ended up having to pay perhaps US$25 in customs fees. But lots of other times, I had no problems (including a shipment of pricey books from Amazon).

I suggest that you buy it in the US and ship it, as book prices in the US are generally cheaper, with 3-4 weeks to ship it yourself, you should be able to get there for a reasonable price via airmail or courier.

If you want to buy from a locallly based store (Thailand), another suggestion is Asia Books.
posted by AnnaRat at 7:47 PM on September 3, 2007

Best answer: Apparently one can't do surface mail from the USA any more. This changed in May, and is having a big impact on sites like eBay and Amazon. Everything goes airmail now.

Shipping costs for you personally are likely to be much higher than what Amazon can achieve shipping direct, so your best bet is likely to find an online retailer who's close to the recipient, and that accepts US credit cards or other payment methods.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 8:57 PM on September 3, 2007

MPH Bookstores in Malaysia might be able to help you.
posted by divabat at 2:57 PM on September 4, 2007

Response by poster: Hi everyone! Thanks for all your answers. I checked all the online retailers listed, and they either did not offer the book, did not allow online purchases, or did not accept a billing address in North America.

SMeoCMP is right in that it is actually cheaper to buy from Amazon and have them ship it as a gift (I ended up saving about $4 on shipping)
posted by mebibyte at 12:30 AM on September 7, 2007

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