Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2004 Issue

Google’s Froogle: Is It There Yet?

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Froogle does allow you to search only within the field of "Books", but on Abebooks, that's an automatic limitation, and Alibris allows for that selection. Froogle also allows you to search certain specific categories, such as biography, but when you get back a list of 32,000 items, this isn't of much help (a keyword search on Abe for "biography" brings up 1,716,210 responses) .

If you go to Froogle and search its "books" category, you will find whose listings they are picking up. This does not necessarily mean that all of their listings are being found, though surely some are. Froogle finds its listings in two ways, one by submission, the other by searching the internet on its own. Any titles a site submits to Froogle in the proper form will be found, but others may or may not be found depending on whether the Google search engine can spot them on its own.

Alibris shows up as a site Froogle finds. Surprisingly, it says it finds only 329,000 listings, not many for a site which claims over 40 million books. This can partly be explained by the way Alibris lists books, with many copies appearing as a subset of the main listing. As a result, Froogle may be finding only 329,000 different listings, but a much larger number of individual copies. Still, this seems too few and I cannot determine whether Froogle is finding only some of the Alibris books or giving a short count. On the other hand, if you search for listings from Abebooks, you will find nothing on Froogle. This, obviously, is a shortcoming for Froogle since Abe, at 50 million, is still the largest listing site in the world for old books.

The ABAA (Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America) makes its listings available to Froogle. Froogle counts 367,000 listings from their site. The ABAA site is not massive in its quantity of books, being limited to listings from its 470 members. However, they do offer many rare and more valuable titles that are not posted on the massive listing sites. Since the ABAA does not have one of the more highly trafficked websites, being included in Froogle may help them reach more buyers with their unique listings.

Another of the smaller listing sites that may get a boost from being found on Froogle is Tom Folio. Froogle says it finds 75,000 listings from this site. Booksamillion shows up with 207,000 listings. Used Book Central shows 68,000 .

Many individual booksellers with their own listing sites also show up. Powell's is the largest of the independents, and they show up as having 168,000 listings. Jonathan Grobe Books shows up with 11,800 listings. Wessex Books has 20,200. The Brattle Book Shop shows 710. However, most independent booksellers, including many of the biggest and best known, do not have listings from their websites appear on Froogle. If their books can be found, it is only because they are also listed on a site that Froogle searches, most likely Alibris, ABAA, or Tom Folio.

Rare Book Monthly

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    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [RUTH, George Herman “Babe” (1895-1948)]. Signed photograph. Circa 1930s. 191 x 248 mm. $1,500 to $2,500.
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    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: EDISON, Thomas. Patent for Edison’s Improvements on the Electric-Light, No. 219,628. [Washington, D.C.: U.S. Patent Office], 16 September 1879. $2,000 to $3,000.
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