News From Around the Listing Sites
By Michael Stillman
This past month, Abebooks announced some changes in their bookseller policies regarding print-on-demand books and multiple listings of single titles; Barnes and Noble reportedly asked some booksellers to take part in a new used book program; and ILAB became the first site to offer book searches in Chinese.
The changes at Abebooks pertain to listings of books that aren't books, or at least, not traditional books. Specifically covered by the new policy are "print on demand" books, photocopies, and audio books. The flooding of listings with these less than traditional items has led to much consternation among booksellers, who feel their books are being lost in this flood of untraditional formats. Abe's new policy does not outlaw or eliminate these types of listings. However, it requires that these types of "books" be clearly labeled for what they are. Print on demand books must now clearly state, "This item is printed on demand." Photocopies must state, "This is a photocopy." Audio books must state, "This is an audio book."
Requiring a clear statement of such things as a book being printed on demand should help those seeking traditional books to sort through unwanted listings, but can it actually help remove these listings so such buyers won't be forced to wade through the detritus in the first place? Sort of. Abe points out that it will enable searchers to avoid this material using Boolean searches. Quickly, how many of you use Boolean searches? How many know how and where to do this, or even what it means? The answer is that if you go to Abe's Advanced Search screen, you will find a line headed "Boolean Searching," with an "on" and an "off" button. The default is off, but you can turn it on. When Boolean searching is on, you can not only specify what you want to find, but what you do not want to find as well. So presumably if you add "not printed on demand" to your search terms and select Boolean searching, that will eliminate the print on demand titles. I guess if you add "not printed on demand and not photocopy and not audio book," with parentheses placed in whatever is the right position to make this work, you can eliminate all of the above. Possible, but it sure does not sound convenient. A button that simply allowed searchers to eliminate these types of books would be much easier for the 99.9% of us who do not have advanced degrees in symbolic logic. It sort of makes you feel that Abe really wants us to see these listings whether we like it or not.