Searching The Old Book Sites&#58;<br>Just Who Is The Best?

- by Michael Stillman


The final book I looked for was a rare and very valuable title, History of the Expedition Under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark. This was originally published in 1814 and is the official report of that momentous expedition. Naturally, I would not expect to find too many copies available. Here is what I did find.

Book Site 1814 originalPrice RangeLater reprint
Alibris2$99,999.95-$124,999.95 3
Barnes and Noble0 9
Amazon0 1

Of course what instantly jumps out here is that the copy that sells for $125,000 elsewhere can be had for just $124,999.95 on Alibris. Normally, I round off their nickel discount, but if you're looking to save a nickel, literally, Alibris is the place to go. Everything is a nickel less there.

Time has come now for a few conclusions. Here are mine:
  1. Amazon confuses the heck out of me when it comes to old books. Instead of trying to read my mind, I'd rather they concentrate on making it easy for me to find what I think I want. They also need to find a way to sell books without identifying numbers (ISBNs) as this limits their ability to sell older titles.
  2. Barnes and Noble offers a nice search, but no books that aren't available elsewhere.
  3. Froogle is not that bad, though not up to the dedicated old book sites yet. Worth watching.
  4. Everything and more you can find on the ABAA site can be found on ILAB, and more of everything on the ABAA site can be found on Froogle. They need to work on their search formula and should merge their search with ILAB.
  5. I wish Alibris would keep their extra nickel and in return get rid of their annoying pop ups. If I wanted Omaha steaks when searching for a book, I'd call Warren Buffet.
  6. Abebooks started out as the leader and I have not seen anything from the competition which would, in my opinion, dislodge them from that spot. They have the largest database at 50 million plus books, and their searches work well, find lots of books, and present them in a clear and easy to follow manner. Of course this is all subjective, but for this dummy, Abe is still the easiest and most rewarding site to use.