Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2003 Issue

Abebooks: Internet Visionaries


CEO Brent James courtesy of Abebooks

By Abby Tallmer
Abebooks began as the Advanced Book Exchange in 1996 as a mere scribble on a notepad. Keith Waters, then a government web programmer, and his wife Cathy were running a used bookstore in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Cathy often spoke of how difficult it was to find certain out-of-print titles for her customers. She knew the books were available in bookstores somewhere, but how to find them?

A short time later during a rather dull business meeting, Keith began to scratch out a solution, one that combined books, databases, and the Internet. He sought the help of Rick Pura, a senior programmer and database administrator and together they came up with Abebooks, a marketplace to buy and sell rare, secondhand and out-of-print books online.

Abebooks found immediate success providing booksellers with an affordable means of selling to a worldwide market. Today, buyers shop Abebooks for an unprecedented selection of over 40 million titles. The Abebooks team is now over 80 strong and works hard to pursue new customers and develop new markets. The acquisition of Germany’s JustBooks has resulted in the development of Abebooks.de in Germany, Abebooks.fr in France and Abebooks.co.uk in the UK. These sites feature language-specific customer service and country-specific purchasing features.

Prestigious organizations such as the Canadian Information Productivity Awards (Excellence in Information Technology) and Forbes Magazine (“best of the best in the rare book category”) have recognized Abebooks’ efforts. With offices in Canada and Germany, and services in French, German, and English, Abebooks truly has become the world’s largest online marketplace for secondhand, rare, and out-of-print books. And it all began as a scribble on a notepad.
                  (From Abebooks: “Our Story”, publicity leaflet)
No matter their opinion on the subject, there is scarcely an antiquarian bookseller or collector who hasn’t heard of or used Abebooks’ multifaceted services. They are an international corporate success story, and their rise to prominence in the used and rare book world has been chronicled in such esteemed publications as The New York Times Magazine (“An Actual Internet Success Story” by Richard Rayner, June 2, 2002) and Maclean’s (“Turning Old Books Into Gold” by Ken MacQueen, January 27, 2003). Like any established corporation they have developed both a thriving base of loyal consumers as well as the occasional less-than-thoroughly-faithful user who might avail him or herself of Abebooks’ considerable features while almost perversely resenting his or her dependence on the very product that is so helpful – one might almost say indispensable – in today’s book world.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> MITCHELL, John (1711-1768). A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America. Copperplate engraving with original hand color. London, 1755. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Brown Pelican (Standing), Plate 251. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $175,000 to $225,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Fish Hawk or Osprey, Plate 81. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London: 1827-1838. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> GONZALES DE MENDOZA, Juan (1545 - 1618). <i>The Historie of the great and mightie kingdome of China…</i> London, 1588. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> VERBIEST, Ferdinand (1623-1688). [World Map] Kun-Yu Ch'uan-Tu. Engraved twelve sheet map with vertical sections joined to form six sheets. Korea, Seoul, c. 1860. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> SANGGI, Chong (1678-1752). Korean Atlas. Manuscript map on mulberry bark paper. C. 1750-1790. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Plate 66. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AKERMAN, Anders (1721-1778). & AKREL, Frederik (1779-1868). Pair of Celestial and Terrestrial Globes. Stockholm, c. 1800. 23 inch diameter, each. $60,000 to $100,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.

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