Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2004 Issue

Searching the Old Book Sites:<br>Something Old, Something New

Zshops

The zShops home page follows Amazon's


By Michael Stillman

Last month I had the opportunity to write about some of the major internet bookselling sites, seven of them to be exact. That article generated its share of comments, which any writer appreciates, because good or bad, at least it means someone is reading. The other nice thing about comments is that they provide an excuse for writing more. Here goes.

For those of you who missed the last article (the link is: www.americanaexchange.com/NewAE/aemonthly/article.asp?f=1&page=1&id=181), Abebooks, Alibris, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ABAA, ILAB, and Froogle came up for review. This month we'll go a little further. First, however, a look back based on some comments.

My methodology was very unscientific. I simply went to the sites and searched for a list of old books to see what I could find. Some sites brought back more results than others, though all provided matches, at least for some titles. However, some sites were easier to use than others. Amazon came in for its share of gentle criticism as I found it frequently to be confusing, and sometimes offered many fewer matches than I anticipated. Based on the comments I've seen, I'm not alone in holding these sentiments. However, it was pointed out that what I needed to do was also search Amazon's zShops to find more matches.

Again, remember I am approaching this as an amateur, or to put it another way, like an ordinary customer. Most customers are not experts in using websites, but their feelings should not be ignored because of that. After all, consumers are the ones who buy the books that you, presuming you're a bookseller, sell. They may not be tech savvy, but they are always right.

I went to the Amazon website to look for zShops. It wasn't easy. There were 15 tabs and buttons on the top of the page, and more links and items for sale than the eye can rationally deal with all over the page. So I took the easy way out. I went to Google, searched for "zShops," and allowed it to find the zShops page on the Amazon site for me. I can now report, it is there. In fact, I then went back to the Amazon home page and found at least three ways you can get to zShops: (1) Near the top of the page is a link labeled "see more stores." Click this link and then scroll down the page it links to. It's right there, the 24th link on that page. (2) There is a list of subjects to browse on the left side of the Amazon home page. Scroll down that list and there it is again, link number 49. (3). There's a search box near the top of the page which says "All Products." However, if you click on the arrow next to it, it gives you a list of places to search, and right there at number 33 is zShops. So why then did I have so much trouble finding it?

Rare Book Monthly

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