Comparing The Book Finding Sites
Power Book Search accesses 60 sites, about all of the majors and lots of others. Searches only title and keywords together. Shows shipping costs and time. Another site which misses the old books. Link: www.powerbooksearch.com
Vialibri is a new meta-searcher reaching 11 sites, mainly those for old books, including Abe, Alibris, Biblio, Antiqbook, Choosebooks, Maremagnum and even ILAB. Offers an advanced type search. Allows search for just rare books, and finds lots of antiquarian titles most other sites miss. Results include complete descriptions. Where a seller posts the same copy on multiple sites, it shows you the price listed on each, which often differs. You can select the cheapest. Much more suitable for the serious collector than the vast majority of other sites. A major step up. Link: www.vialibri.net
Bookfinder.us is hard to feel good about. They have taken the venerable BookFinder's name and just placed it on the ".us" extension instead of ".com." They search 60 sites including those you would expect. They display shipping and tax. No place to find antiquarian books. Link: www.bookfinder.us
As we noted at the beginning of this article, there are undoubtedly more, but this should be enough to get you started. Except where noted, most do not add anything special to the top rated sites. Most sites seem focused on new and recent used books, and do not find the older pre-isbn material, so they do not offer much to the serious collector. An indication of this is that for all of the sites searched, only a few meta-searchers reach the bookseller cooperatives, Tom Folio, ILAB and IOBA, that tend to offer antiquarian and rare books. For the collector of rare and antiquarian books, the recommended sites are BookFinder, AddAll, BookFinder4U, UsedBookSearch, and Vialibri. You can pick which of these you like best. For new and used books, we have a preference for those search engines that have an advanced search, something that lets you specify more than author, title, or perhaps keywords. However, in fairness to those that do not, many of the sites they search do not provide this data in separate fields, so such attempts will in many cases be futile.
So why do we have all of these meta-search sites? Blame Amazon. They started the idea of paying commissions to other sites who brought them customers. These sites are able to earn commissions when someone clicks through to a selling site and purchases a book. Ideally, once set up, they just do their thing and the owner sits back and collects commissions, although anyone with a website can tell you it rarely runs that smoothly. Still, the struggling bookseller can be pleased to know that someone has figured a way to make money in this business.