AbeBooks recently announced to their participating booksellers that they will discontinue listing eBooks on all of their websites. This will be welcome news to those who use their site to find collectible books. While AbeBooks' typical buyer is someone looking for an inexpensive (likely used) copy of a book, the site is also regularly used by the smaller group of customers who buy books for their collections. As the AbeBooks Top 10 prices list for 2017 reveals (elsewhere in this month's Rare Book Monthly), there are well-heeled collectors purchasing books from the site that are clearly not intended for use as reading copies.
The proliferation of electronic copies, which makes it more difficult to find the "real" books, has been a growing phenomenon over the years. They were no problem when "Abe" went live in the mid-1990s. Electronic books did not exist at the time. However, in the past decade, as they have grabbed a significant part of book sales, they have become a distraction for collectors, more listings to wade through to find what you want. No one collects eBooks. How could you do that? This is welcome news for the collector.
There are still other "fakes," notably the ubiquitous "print-on-demand" books. These may be physical books, but they are not collectible (at least not yet, if ever). A search for a rare or obscure title will often bring up dozens of print-on-demand copies, but only one or two, or often zero, early publisher copies. The problem is virtually anyone can offer print-on-demand or eBooks, but few if any dealers will hold a copy if the "real" book is old and rare. These later copies, like digit eBooks, can be a waste of time searching through, but there is a solution to this problem. Actually, there are two solutions available.
First option is when you go to the AbeBooks site, don't fill in the four-field search box that comes up when you go to the home page. Instead, click the "More search options" link to the right of the "Search" button. That will take you to the "Advanced Search" page. Scroll down to the ninth option listed, "Attributes." Then, go over to the last choice among the Attributes, "Not Print on Demand." Select that box. Then fill in the other fields you want to search, such as Author, Title, or Keywords, and click "Find Book" at the bottom. That will eliminate all print-on-demand copies from your results.
The other option is to go ahead and use the four-field search box that appears on the AbeBooks home page. That will give you results that include print-on-demand. However, you will then see a list of attributes by which you can refine your search in the left column. Those include "Product Type," "Condition," "Binding," and the fourth one is "Collectible Attributes." The last choice among "Collectible Attributes" is "Not Printed On Demand." Select that choice and it will remove the print-on-demand copies.
The elimination of eBooks from AbeBooks' websites will go into effect on February 6, 2018.