ViaLibri, the “metasearch” engine for books, recently announced the addition of a German version of their website. Launched half a dozen years ago, the German version joins the original English and French edition of their site. All three are reached from the same page, clicking on one of the three flags in the site's upper right corner allowing you to switch languages.
Commenting on the addition, founder Jim Hinck said, “Creating a German viaLibri is very important to our future. From the beginning we have recognized that the rare book market is international in scope. The internet is making it even more so.” Despite our own archaic and out-of-date name of the “Americana Exchange,” we quickly came to realize the scope of the book trade today within a few weeks of launch. Books today of whatever interest are often found in unexpected corners of the globe, even from fields one might think of as parochial, such as Americana. Book collecting and trading is now an international field.
Of course, announcing this addition on an English language website may seem incongruous. While many of our readers are from Germany and all over Europe, presumably they are English-speaking anyway, hence the need for a German site limited. If they can't read English, well... they won't be able to read this either. However, this news does give us an excuse to take another look at viaLibri, which is really a neat site, in case you are not already familiar with it.
ViaLibri has designed their site to be useful for the rare book collector, rather than just the person looking for a cheap, used book. As such, it gives you an advanced search field to pinpoint features of the title you want, such as price range, year printed, and first edition. Once you search, it goes to many listing sites, from the three “A's” - Amazon, AbeBooks, and Alibris – to the organization sites like ABAA and IOBA, to European sites like ZVAB, livre-rare-book, and Maremagnum, to numerous other smaller sites.
Results come back with the complete, or at least a lengthy part of the description included. One click to the linking site will show you the rest if it was too long to fit. For example, if you are looking for a collectible copy of Huckleberry Finn, you need to see detailed information. If all you want is a copy to read, all that matters is the title, author and price. ViaLibri even provides a translation tool. It will translate listings, depending on which version of the site you are using, to English, French or German. You can also translate to many other languages based on your browser settings. There's no need to separately copy and paste these listings into Google translate.
Of course, price is important, and along with showing you the price and listing site where the copy is offered, viaLibri goes one better. If the dealer has listed the book on multiple listing sites, it shows you the price on each. If the prices listed by the dealer are different (and sometimes they are) you can go to the site with the lowest price. A price comparison between different dealers is expected, but I don't recall another price comparison within the same merchant. Why pay more for the same copy?
Perhaps we shouldn't mention this, since the purpose of search and listing sites is to sell books, but viaLibri is a great research site. By providing detailed descriptions of listings all across the internet, you can find out much about the book. But, viaLibri goes one better. It allows you to search numerous library holdings for copies of your book. They range from large accumulations, like WorldCat and Google Book Search, to numerous specialty libraries (Canadian Centre for Architecture, Center for Jewish History), national libraries (British Library, Library of Congress), major public and private libraries (New York Public, Pierpont Morgan), universities (Yale, McGill), and many more. ViaLibri has created a very useful collection of information and we recommend giving it a test spin.
Here is a link to the viaLibri book listing site search: www.vialibri.net
And here's a link to their library search: www.vialibri.net/library_search.php