SeaTurtle Books
for the inquisitive mind

 

 

SEARCHING FOR BOOKS

Have you ever noticed in your search that the same book, by the same dealer, is listed with two prices? From two different sites?   Want to avoid this?

Commission, Commission, Commission!  Many of the search sites are charging a commission on each sale, OVER AND ABOVE the bookdealers price. This is why the same book can be listed at two prices - higher for the commission-charging sites, and base price for the other sites.

These notes are designed to help you to:

(a) find the book you are looking for, and

(b) then buy the book at the best possible price.

There are many, many booksearching sites.  The ones listed below are only a few of the ones we feel are the most useful/helpful.

Become book savvy!  Read these notes carefully!
 
BOOKFINDER 

This site searches all the other sites. Simply fill in the author and/or the title (or as much as you can remember) and see how many matches come up.

You will generally find the book you are looking for and you can follow the links through to the dealer who has the book. Always try to get into DIRECT contact with the bookdealer rather than through the intermediate listing site if you wish to avoid paying extra commission.

If your search on Bookfinder fails, (which means that the book is not currently on offer anywhere in the world at the time of your search) you now know that the book you are looking for is VERY hard-to-find! You can try again at a later date, or you can lodge the title(s) you are looking for with certain other sites - see below.

BOOKFINDER ADVANTAGES:
1. The most comprehensive search of all - searches the databases of all other major search sites - if a book is not listed here, the chances are it is not listed anywhere.
BOOKFINDER DISADVANTAGES:
1. Because it is searching so many databases, each search takes a little longer than normal.
2. Inability to arrange results in price order.
 

TOMFOLIO   

This site is run as a co-operative by the actual bookdealers and therefore charges no commission and puts you in direct contact with the bookdealer.

TOMFOLIO ADVANTAGES:
1. No commission - no hidden extra charges.
2. Able to arrange results in price order.
3. Has a good range of advanced search features to help you reach exactly the book you are looking for.
4. Has a highly developed browse feature allowing you to look through specific interest areas.
5. Has a highly developed Code of Ethics that all participating bookdealers agree to, leading to accurate descriptions and 'no quibble' returns policies.
TOMFOLIO DISADVANTAGES:
1. As yet, a smaller range of books than the major sites. Nevertheless, there is a large range of quality books accurately listed on this site.

Other sites operating on a 'no commission' basis are:  
 

ADVANCED BOOK EXCHANGE   

This site has one of the largest ranges of secondhand and antiquarian books on the web, but charges 5% commission and direct contact with the bookdealer (thereby avoiding the commission) is purposely made difficult. There are ways around this - see instructions below!

ABE ADVANTAGES:
1. A very large range of books.
2. Able to arrange results in price order.
3. Has a good range of advanced search features to help you reach exactly the book you are looking for.
4. Has a facility to lodge wanted books, so that if a title is currently unavailable, they will notify you by email as soon as that title becomes listed.
ABE DISADVANTAGES:
1. Charges 5% commission and has fixed shipping charges that are often more expensive than need be.
2. Lists the books of many amateur and part-time bookdealers - not in itself bad, but beware of over enthusiastic descriptions and unprofessional service on an individual seller basis.
3. Inhibits direct contact with the bookdealer.

To get into direct contact with the bookdealer on the ABE site and avoid the 5% commission, follow these steps:
1. Once you have found the book you are interested in, press the 'Book Details' button. (Not the 'Add to Basket' button - that will lock you into the ABE commission.)
2. Click onto the 'E-mail Bookseller' link. (Not the 'Ask a Question' button - that will again interpose ABE between you and the bookdealer.)
3. You will now have a straightforward email form direct to the bookdealer - either order the book or ask a question, whichever you choose. The book will be offered at the bookdealers straight list price with an 'at cost' shipping charge rather than a fixed rate shipping charge.
4. If you wish to search the bookdealer's own catalogue, click onto the 'Bookseller's Homepage' link. (Not the 'Search Seller's Books' button, which, once again, locks you back into ABE.)
 

AMAZON  

The best known of all book sites. Excellent for new books, but less so for secondhand books, where they charge a 15% commission.  Yes I said 15% COMMISSION. Pretty sad that the big guy bullies the little bookseller like that.....

AMAZON ADVANTAGES:
1. A large range of books.
2. Dealer rating system - not perfect, but a guide.
AMAZON DISADVANTAGES:
1. Charges 15% commission.
2. Their inappropriate ISBN catalogue system often leads to a mis-described book, or even a different book altogether. Be careful of this aspect of Amazon.  Always read your descriptions carefully.
3. Many amateur and even dubious book listers.
4. Impossible to contact dealer direct until you have bought the book (and paid the 15% commission).
5. Condition grades different from book trade standard and therefore confusing.
6. They charge you for the book before they have established it is still available.
 

ALIBRIS  

Although they get many of their books via independent book dealers, the customer deals with Alibris, not the bookdealer. They charge 20% commission, but as they charge no listing fee, the overall uplift is probably similar to Amazon. They do allow you to send queries to the bookdealer, but try to keep control of the sale.

ALIBRIS ADVANTAGES:
1. No quibble returns policy.
2. Has a facility to lodge wanted books, so that if a title is currently unavailable, they will notify you by email as soon as that title becomes listed.
ALIBRIS DISADVANTAGES:
1. Charges 20% commission.
2. Limited direct dealer contact.

BIBLIO.COM:

Biblio.com is a fairly new search site on the www.  Yet they are growing steadily with new dealers and new customers.  Using Biblio will get you in touch with the dealers themselves.  Yet you are going to pay a commission above the dealers price.  This commission is built into the price from the dealer due to the costs of listing with Biblio.  Commission for Biblio to the bookseller is from 7.5 - 15%, with no listing fee.  So the markup will be set accordingly. 

BIBLIO ADVANTAGES:
1. No quibble returns policy.
2. Has a facility to lodge wanted books, so that if a title is currently unavailable, they will notify you by email as soon as that title becomes listed.
3. Inhibits direct contact with the bookdealer.
BIBLIO DISADVANTAGES:
1. Charges 7.5 - 15% commission to the dealer.  Your price will be adjusted accordingly.

 ADDALL.COM:

Addall is a search and price comparison site, similar to Bookfinder (above).  It is primarily set up to assist you in finding the book title you are searching for in multiple sites with multiple comparison prices available from those sites.  They boast that they catalog from 40+ sites, or 20,000 Sellers. 

ADDALL ADVANTAGES:
1. Adequate search facility.
2. Search facility includes shipping destination information.  This eliminates contacting a store that simply does not ship to your destination.  Saves time for both of you.
ADDALL DISADVANTAGES:
1. Does not work with the small book business.  Lists only the larger less customer oriented sites.

SUMMARY:

In our opinion (for what it merits), the two most useful sites are TomFolio  and  Advanced Book Exchange  (provided you use ABE in a way that avoids commission), with BookFinder  being the back-up search site if you fail to find the book you are looking for on the other two.

Above and beyond anything else, if you have a question ALWAYS ask the Bookdealer.  This is a group of dedicated, dignified, gracious group of individuals.  They are always there to help you.  A simple email to the dealer will get you an answer, or they will be able to point you in a direction that may be of service.  So just ask. 
 

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