Internet Book Search Sites:
There are probably more than a dozen sites on the Internet exclusively for
the sale of used books at retail. Of those on which we list, we'd recommend
* www.tomfolio.com - a bookseller cooperative with a very good
browsing feature and category system. The sellers agree to abide by a basic
code of ethics and return policy.
* www.abaa.org - operated by the oldest U.S. professional bookseller's
organization, the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA).
This is more likely to have rare and unusual items with good professional
descriptions. The sellers are also subject to a comparatively rigorous code
of ethics and return policy, and the organization does provide enforcement.
* www.ilab.org <http://www.ilab.org
> -International League of
Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB)- the world-wide organization of the country
antiquarian booksellers associations, like the ABAA. Note that it will
include results from the ABAA site.
The following sites are larger, both in numbers of dealers and books, but
all, in varying degrees charge sellers a commission on sales rather than
just a listing fee:
* www.abebooks.com - the largest, and also likely to have the biggest
range in pricing. Also more likely than any other to have misdescribed
items, and books with little or no description. It takes some practice to
recognize the fly-by-night sellers, but it also provides significant
comparables for pricing purposes. It is also cluttered by print-on-demand
sellers (each often offering the same book at different prices -- many of
them, in fact), and also sellers offering huge catalogs of books that they
do not now own, but believe they can obtain if and when someone orders it.
* www.alibris.com - the next largest stock available, and the most
expensive with respect to commission charged. Also it has been the best
advertised. You may find books listed here at a higher price than the same
book from the same seller on another site so the seller can make up for the
commission structure. And it rather severely limits the ability of buyer
and seller to communicate directly.
* www.amazon.com - the well-known site also sells used books, but it
is very hard to find pre-1970 (that is pre ISBN) books on the site. By
going directly to www.zshops.com, and searching for books, you'll do much
better. Books covered by ISBN's will show up reasonably well on the main
site, but the commission paid by the seller is substantial. (Note: Since
this entry was written in 2005, Amazon has been assigning numbers of its own
to pre-ISBN books. We must admit that we neither understand the rationale
nor actively take part in this program. Perhaps a convincing argument for
this might be offered.)
Other sites include:
* www.antiqbook.com (in the Netherlands)
* www.booksandcollectibles.com (in Australia)
* www.ibooknet.co.uk (in England, a co-op like Tom Folio)
There are lots of other small sites, but these and the ones above are
searched by meta-search engines, that is, sites which will search for a
given title on all, or most of the bookselling sites on the Internet.
However, they may only return a small percentage of the results from those
sites, and the descriptions may be truncated. See:
* www.vialibri.com <www.vialibri.com%20> (This is a new meta search
site that is in beta testing at the moment. Appears that it will have
expanded research and reference capabilities that the other sites don't.
Gallagher Collection Books
Rare, Out of Print Books; Library Related Antiques
Don & Sue Gallagher
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