Rare Book Monthly
Articles - February - 2004 Issue
Search Engines: A Growing Force in Books
In UsedBookSearch the results are also reported as files from each site. Each file shows you total records found, an important piece of information. They don’t merge the results so you have to search, compare and remember using your own methodology. It isn’t very hard to do this but it’s another step. AddAll sequences all material it provides into a single list – of potentially hundreds of matches – and they let you re-sequence the entire list in price order, by listing site, by author, title and dealer. It’s extremely good if not as complete as UsedBookSearch when there is a large volume of results. Bookfinder gives you files – a lot of them, and they aren’t as easy to use as the other tested search engines. They don’t give you totals and I suspect it’s because the folders don’t contain as many matches. These search engines are surprisingly different.
If choosing a search engine to use you need to know which sites they search, how they search them and whether they search them completely. Using Bevier in the author field I ran a preliminary search and obtained 240 matches on UsedBookSearch, 117 matches on AddAll, and 52 on Bookfinder divided into 36 matches and 16 in the “Also See” category. ABE, the largest used book listing site on the web, had 55 in an identical search. When you then put Bevier into Abe’s keyword field you find 87 matches, on AddAll 154 and on UsedBookSearch 173. These results are surprisingly different although the differences are less than they appear because there are so many duplicate entries. I then ran three additional identical searches on each search engine for Washington’s Farewell Address (WFA), Life and Confessions of James Gilbert Jenkins...(JGJ); and Printers and Printing in New-York by C. R. Hildeburn (PAP). These titles show up in the 10-20, 15 to 25 and 55 to 1,000 quantity ranges.