Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2007 Issue

Aggregator ViaLibri Will Translate Listings

Via

ViaLibri will now translate text as well as show comparative prices.


By Michael Stillman

ViaLibri announced the addition of a nice tool to its mega-search site – language translation. It provides immediate translation between several, primarily European languages. English-speakers will be able to translate listings from French, German, Italian and Spanish to their native tongue. English listings can be translated to any of those languages plus Portuguese and Korean. It can also translate German, Spanish and Italian to French, and French to German.

For those unfamiliar with ViaLibri, it is a new mega-search site for books, that is, one that searches various book listing sites together. Among those searched are majors such as Abebooks, Alibris, Biblio, and Choosebooks, member site ILAB, European sites Antiqbook, Livre-rare-books and Maremagnum, and a few smaller sites. If you are wondering how a new site such as this can come up with a translation tool, the answer is no, they did not reinvent the wheel. They have incorporated Google's translation tool into their site.

Google's translation tool is not perfect. It translates languages the way I used to translate French to English when I took that language back in high school. "Comedic" would have been a good description were it not for the fact that I was being graded on it. Nonetheless, if it translates to at best broken English, it is usually enough to make out the meaning, and that is better than total incomprehension. Like most of Google's services, it is not perfect, but it is still very helpful.

I regularly use Google Translate already, so in a sense, this is nothing new. However, it is much more convenient. Currently, I have to open a new window on my computer for Google Translate. Then, I have to copy either the text to be translated or the link, paste it in the appropriate box, select the language to be translated, and then run the program. With ViaLibri's new tool, all you have to do is select the language in which to translate and click the button. The internet is all about speed and convenience, and ViaLibri saves me time and effort when I find a listing I need to translate. So, if you are busy or lazy, and I am at least one of these, this is a nice addition.

As to why you might want to translate listings, there is more than the obvious case of when the book is in a language you cannot understand. After all, while some people do collect editions in languages they cannot read, such as Americans collecting early European Americana, I would venture to guess this is probably a minority. However, it is no longer uncommon to find, for example, a book in English being offered by a German bookseller. The book's title may be in a familiar language to the English speaker, but not its description or instructions on purchasing it. In this case, language translation may be essential to enable a purchase of that book, perhaps not to be found anywhere else, from that foreign bookseller.

ViaLibri is a new mega-search site, and probably the first really useful such site for the antiquarian and rare book collector to come along since the turn of the millennium (that sounds impressive). They provide a detailed advance search capability, including dates. This type of targeting may not be necessary for the majority of searchers who are looking for a used copy to read, but for those who seriously collect antiquarian books, it makes it much easier to find the rare edition you want. ViaLibri also offers one other very desirable feature. If a bookseller offers the same copy on multiple sites, it shows both listings. In other words, if the price is different, you can purchase from the site with the lower cost. Now you can save time, effort and money. I like all three, especially the last. You may visit ViaLibri at the following link: www.vialibri.net.

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