Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2007 Issue

Comparing The Book Finding Sites

Bkfinder

BookFinder lists editions, with individual copies seen by clicking the link.


By Michael Stillman

And you thought there was a proliferation of bookselling websites! There is certainly no shortage of places where a bookseller can go to sell his wares online. It is extensive, perhaps excessive. There are the big name sites, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, eBay and Half.com. There are the big names in pre-owned books (a term borrowed from used car dealers), Abebooks, Alibris, Biblio and Choosebooks/ZVAB. There are European and English sites, such as Antiqbook and Antikbuch24, Bibliophile.net, ibooknet, Livre-rare-book, and Maremagnum. There is the Australian Books and Collectibles, and the Canadian Chapters Indigo. There are the not-as-well-known sites such as Elephant Books, Abooksearch, and A1. Then you have the member sites, such as ILAB, ABAA, IOBA, and Tom Folio. Froogle belongs somewhere in here, though I'm not sure how to classify it. Of course there is even AE's own Books For Sale. There are lots of choices, though sometimes too many choices can lead to confusion.

You might think the solution to the complexity is to have a search engine that searches listings from all of these different sites. There is such a site. In fact, there are way too many of these sites. And while none searches all of the listing sites, there are some that search a great many. The multi-site search engine is a preferred method of search today for many book buyers. However, just when it looked like this might be a less confusing way to find books, we now see a proliferation of these multi-site search engines. You almost need another place to search all of them. Do we really need so many?

We went out and did some search engine searching. Here are some of the mega-search book-finding sites we found. It is in no way guaranteed to be complete. There are undoubtedly more. However, only a few are really useful to the book collector. The majority seem to find new and recent used books, but rarely find the antiquarian or rare books collectors seek. We found only five that are useful for the rare book collector. Many others are fine for those who want books to read.

There appears to be a big three in the listing site search engines, BookFinder, AddAll and FetchBook. It is hard to know for certain how much traffic each site has, but the common wisdom that these are the largest is backed by Alexa's useful though imperfect traffic numbers.

BookFinder is likely the most used of the meta searchers, searching 64 sites, including all of the majors - four versions of Abebooks, five of Amazon, Alibris, Barnes and Noble, Half, Biblio, Choosebooks, plus many smaller sites, non-U.S. sites, the member sites ILAB, IOBA and Tom Folio, and some individual stores. They offer an advanced search with most fields except date. They show estimated shipping costs. Searches are not always speedy, but are thorough. Unlike most sites, they find the older and rare material. BookFinder was recently purchased by Abebooks, but is independently run and scrupulously holds to its objectivity. They show titles of different editions of a book after a search, which are then clicked for individual listings. In other words, listings are shown in a manner reminiscent of Alibris rather than Abe. Link: www.bookfinder.com

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Sergio Trujillo Magnenat, <i>Bogotá 1938 / IV Centenario / Juegos Deportivos Bolivarianos,</i> 1938. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>McQueen Drives Porsche,</i> designer unknown, 1970. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>Joe Bridge, <i>Bignan / A Des Ailes,</i> 1921. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Graham Simmons, <i>The Army Isn’t All Work,</i> 1919. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Je ne fume que le nil,</i> 1912. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>Attack of the 50 ft. Woman,</i> designer unknown, 1958. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Raymond Tooby, <i>Festival Guiness / Have You Tried One Yet?,</i> 1952. $600 to $900.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Francisco Tamagno, <i>Terrot & Co. / Dijon / Cycles Motorettes,</i> 1909. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>A. Hori, Oakland / General Motors, circa 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>Travel? Adventure? Answer – Join the Marines!,</i> circa 1918. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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