SHAFAQNA – There is a lot to be said for the digitized Islamic texts gradually being made available online through the work of many hard-working volunteers. If you’re like me, those online documents are great for looking something up, but when you want to read a book cover to cover or carry it with you, nothing compares to an actual book.
So where can you find Shia Islamic books? I asked people on Shia forums to share their sources and conducted Internet searches, and here are the fruits of that labor for your use.
The following websites seem to be the top choices for Shia Islamic books in terms of accessibility, selection, and quality.
This is the online catalog of the Al-Khoei Center in New York with English titles, as well as Arabic, Urdu, and Farsi. Cheaper prices can sometimes be found elsewhere, so it pays to shop around. But this site has a strong selection that is regularly updated, the best search options, fast shipping, and interactive features such as reviews by readers and updates. You can also make secure donations to Shia Islamic charity needs from the store just as you would purchase a book.
This site has a variety of books but specializes in the low-cost P.E.T. publications. Based in the US; low shipping costs. You do have to click a few too many times to put a book in the cart, but it is well worth it!
This site ships from UK has an up-to-date selection including some unique gift items and DVD/CD offerings. The overseas shipping is compensated for by the selection.
This site offers a smaller selection, but is notable for its excellent item descriptions, good prices and some unique or rare offerings. It is run by the family that has published a number of great prayer books and children’s workbooks under the name Tayyiba Publishers. They ship only in the United States.
This website is based in Canada. It has a good selection that includes some titles rarely seen or unable elsewhere. A few nice features are that you can add multiple items from a page to your cart at once, you can easily convert currency, and you can pay conveniently by PayPal. It is a little harder to search than some sites but worth spending the time.
The ultra-ubiquitous publisher ships from Iran, so to use this site you have to be willing to tolerate shipping times counted in months rather than days or weeks. It has a very large selection in a variety of languages, including English, Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, French, Azerbaijani, Turkish, Russian, Tajikistani, Spanish, German and few others.
And here are the runners-up: these sites may be less appealing due to lower selection, increased shipping costs or delays, or poorly functioning websites.
This site offers a decent selection, but some links don’t work, and some item descriptions are a bit vague.
Appears modeled after Khoei.org in design, based in Dar e Salaam, Tanzania. Good prices, but that will be countered by shipping costs and time. Descriptions of books lacking, yet has a good selection.
This site is based in Pakistan, books in Urdu only, payment in Rupees.
Free books by request, shipped from India. Limited selection but some unique titles and good Da’wah titles.
Online purchase does not seem to fully arranged, but many are available in PDF format for free download as well as purchase – high quality works.
No books here, but good multimedia: Qur’an and D’ua multimedia, including for iPods.
Specializes in Arabic language books.
Located in UK, accepts Paypal.
Beautiful quality publisher of a few Shia books. Their online shopping capability seems to be down, but you can order by contacting them or can find many of their titles at other sellers.
Br. Hamid Waqar self-publishes translations and works not available elsewhere, including English translation of risalahs of Ayatollahs Khameini and Khomeini. Can purchase for download or print.
Muhammadi Trust publishes beautiful books. You can view their covers and read description but they do not seem to sell them directly from the site.
You can download or request free copies of Musavi Lari’s excellent works in many languages.
Based in Pakistan, the old classic mainstay of basic Shia books. It does not seem to be functioning for online sales at this time.
Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an. The online sales feature is not currently functioning.
Excellent beautiful editions of works new in English. Very small selection, but must-haves. Based in Canada. You can also find these at other sellers.
Good selection, based in Tanzania.
This one has no English interface available, but was recommended by a few people.
And now for a few more sites to keep in mind. These sellers do not specialize in offering Shia material and are not owned by Shias as far as I know.
Not Shia, but has good selection of neutral children’s material and multimedia.
Also not Shia, does stock a few Shia titles and is notable for its extensive collection of numerous versions of Qur’an and Qur’an translations.
Both AbeBooks and Amazon have an ever-increasing collection of Shia books. Try these if you are looking for a specific title, especially if it is out of print – the used book sellers can offer surprising finds with the great ease of the AbeBooks and Amazon interfaces.