Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2007 Issue

Happy Birthday! - BookFinder Celebrates Its 10th


BookFinder today.

"Long tail" refers to the ability to offer many more goods for sale than was possible in the traditional bricks and mortar store. It's what those stores call "SKUs." Shelf space, cost of goods, and such limit what a traditional store can offer. They can only present a limited selection, forcing customers into a "one size fits all" type of purchasing. The internet, however, opens up the "long tail" of goods. Even small niche items can now be made available, as sellers are able to reach the entire world. No one geographic location could justify a bricks and mortar store specializing in, say, obscure 19th century American poets, but the whole world, now reachable through the internet, can. So now, the "long tail" of goods, those obscure American poetry books, are available to consumers everywhere. In turn, this allows consumers to buy or collect niche items, when in the past, they might have only been able to collect brand-name poets such as Poe or Longfellow.

BookFinder's role in the process now becomes clear. They enable book collectors to search through the inventories of even the smallest niche sellers, wherever they might be. They can collect in that "long tail." To put it another way, BookFinder lets you search through an inventory of 125 million books for the obscurest of titles, something previously not possible even for someone living in New York City.

So there you have a look inside the mindset of BookFinder. They may not recall for sure who the last two of their five original searched sites were, but they can tell you, "Our infrastructure is built on open formats and open source platforms, which helps us deliver results quickly and avoid vendor lock-in." I don't know exactly what that means either, but it does tell us BookFinder intends to stay focused on the functionality and usefulness of its site, not on reminiscing. This is as it should be. BookFinder is a tool, like computer software or an internet browser. It facilitates a process. You aren't looking to have a relationship with your software. You just want it to work. So sentimental reminiscing may not make much sense for BookFinder. What matters is that it performs its tasks well, and always strives for improvement so that technology does not pass it by. BookFinder has done an excellent job of this, which is why after an eternity of ten years, while so many of the old giants have dropped by the wayside, BookFinder is still going strong. Congratulations. And, it was still nice to stop for a moment for a sentimental trip down memory lane for one last look at that distant year of 1997. To be young again.

BookFinder may be found online at www.bookfinder.com (or you can try the old trick of going to ww.mxbf.com instead).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> <i>[Sutro Baths] / On the Shore of the Pacific Ocean,</i> designer unknown, 1896. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> Osvaldo Ballerio, <i>Biscottini e Amaretti Delser,</i> circa 1900. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> Maxfield Parrish, <i>Harper’s Weekly,</i> 1896. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Les Parfums de J. Daver Paris,</i> 1903. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> Jacob Lawrence, <i>Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture,</i> 1968. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> Charles Loupot, <i>Lion Noir, Cirage – Crème,</i> 1949. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> <i>Keep Calm and Carry On,</i> designer unknown, 1939. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> Walter L. Greene, <i>Adirondack Mountains / Lake Placid,</i> 1930. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> Laura Brey, <i>Enlist / On Which Side of the Window Are You?</i> 1917. $1,500 to $2,000.

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