So, what’s the best way to find books online? There are thousands of large bookselling sites, and individual booksellers, and Google searches don’t always work well for turning up the results you want.
Book marketplaces make finding books easier. Member booksellers each load their listings to a searchable database on the marketplace website, making it possible for you to search the offerings of hundreds or, in the case of the largest services, thousands of booksellers, all in one fell swoop. Millions of books can be searched in just seconds. When you order a book, it’s shipped from the individual bookseller.
Here’s a rundown of 30 book marketplaces, worldwide. First up, some great indie ones, then onto the big guys.
Independent bookselling marketplaces
There are lots of good bookselling sites out there, aside from the big ones we all have heard of (see farther down the page for those). These sites usually feature experienced, knowledgeable booksellers and have a strong emphasis on quality.
The Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America was founded in 1949 with a mission to promote interest in rare books, along with professionalism & ethical standards in the book trade. ABAA lists books from its member booksellers on its website.
2. A Book Search
A Book Search says they feature “old, rare, and out of print books. We are committed to providing a clean, fast, accurate and direct interface between the customer and the bookseller.” Small, but good quality. Based in California, with mostly US & UK booksellers.
AntiqBook‘s slogan is “fine books, fair prices.” They hold booksellers to a high standard and won’t accept hyperbole, inaccurate book descriptions, or shoddy business practices. Based in the Netherlands with over 8 million books and hundreds of booksellers worldwide.
Antbo offers antiquarian books. Their site is available in German or English, and booksellers are based in Europe and North America.
Biblio was founded in 2003 and is independently owned. This company is dedicated giving customers and booksellers alike excellent service, and to charitable works.
Over 5,600 booksellers sell on Biblio, so there’s a very large selection of books – over 100 million! It’s the best of both worlds – indie, and big. (There’s also a UK site, Biblo.co.uk.) It’s my favorite place to buy books online.
6. Bibliophile Bookbase
Bibliophile is based in Switzerland with a few hundred booksellers located around the globe, but mostly in the UK, US, Ireland, South Africa and Australia. The website has been online since 1999 and is available in English, French, German and Italian.
Bibliopoly is owned by Bernard Quaritch Ltd, a bookseller for over 150 years, and features the inventory of 25 high-end book dealers, located worldwide. The website is available in English, Spanish, Italian, German and French. [Update: October 25, 2014 The site was down when we checked today. Hopefully it will be back up soon!]
8. Book Lovers
Book Lovers is based in the UK and operated by a bookseller, who personally approves new book dealers to ensure quality. Currently includes over 50 (mostly UK) booksellers offering about 350,000 collectible books.
9. Books at PBFA
Books at PBFA lists books offered by members of The Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association. Booksellers adhere to a code of conduct and are mostly UK-based, with a handful from other countries.
BuchFreund is a German book marketplace, with listings from many German antiquarian booksellers. Their site is available in either the German or English language.
The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers‘s slogan is “the world’s best books, the world’s best booksellers.” Their site lists books sold by almost 1,800 ILAB member booksellers, who must meet a high standard to join.
the Independent Online Booksellers Association is a trade organization founded in 1999, for reputable booksellers who sell online. The site lists books from a portion of IOBA’s 300-plus members.
13. Livre Rare Book
Livre Rare Book searches 497 bookshops with over 3.4 million books. This French site is also available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian.
Maremagnum is based in Italy, and lists over 8 million books and ephemera for sale. Its sellers are located worldwide, and the website is available in Italian, French, Spanish, and English. Shipping within 2 days is guaranteed.
Scribblemonger is US-based and includes about 300 booksellers.
16. Tom Folio
TomFolio is a co-op, founded in 1999, whose members must adhere to a code of ethics. They offer books from about 120 reputable independent booksellers from the United States and a handful of other countries, along with a small selection of antiques and collectibles.
Uniliber is a Spanish site but is available in seven languages, including English. It offers nearly 4 million books from 300 bookshops, most of them Spanish.
Formerly called World Book Market, Bookzangle describes itself as “an international group of booksellers who believe that quality of books and quality of service far outweigh quantity of listings.” Established in 2004, they have high standards for their sellers, who number a few dozen. Booksellers are based in the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
The big guys:
These are the huge bookselling marketplaces, each of them listing the inventories of many thousands of booksellers. If you want the biggest possible assortment of books to search though, this is where you want to go.
And, when I’m trying to find out what a particular book’s current retail price range is, these (as well as Biblio, listed above) are often the places I look first, because the pool of books for comparison is so large.
However, on these sites the booksellers aren’t as closely vetted as on the smaller bookselling marketplaces, so you wind up with many very knowledgeable, reputable booksellers, along with a few newbies who don’t really know about books. So, read descriptions carefully.
AbeBooks was established way back in 1996, making it one of the first sites of its type, and it is one of the biggest. Amazon now owns ABE, but it’s still run as a standalone operation with offices in Canada. Thousands of booksellers worldwide list their books on ABE.
You can search AbeBooks using the form below or by visiting this page.
Though Amazon started out as a seller of new books, it’s now becoming quite popular with booksellers who list used, out-of-print, and collectible books there. (Do read descriptions carefully, and email the seller with any questions, as anyone with an Amazon account can list there.) Check it out here.
Alibris has been online since 1998 and offers many millions of books offered by thousands of booksellers. It is the largest independently-owned book marketplace and they are involved in several social responsibility campaigns. Offers DVDs, too. There’s also a UK site.
Meta search sites
Want to search a bunch of these marketplaces at once? There are sites which will let you do just that.
- MareLibri searches 9 of the sites listed above; available in 13 languages. Very nice.
- Via Libri searches 18 different websites which include the inventory of 20,000 booksellers worldwide. You can register your wants and they will notify you when the books are available.
- Addall is independently owned and searches a few of the sites listed above, along with textbook sites and behemoths such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Walmart
- Used Book Search searches books on the major bookselling sites, and has a nice feature where you can just see books located in particular countries.
- BookFinder4U is another independently owned site which searches over 100 bookstores including the biggies and some indies. Two search forms: one for used, and another for new books.
- ISBN.nu searches a number of bookselling sites. It shows pictures of book covers and has a really nifty interface.
- Bookfinder is owned by AbeBooks (which is owned by Amazon), Bookfinder searches those sites as well as other major bookselling marketplaces and websites, including many of those listed above.
We’ve also put together a list of individual booksellers you’ll want to know about. It’s sort of Beat / small press-centric, but also has some dealers who have a large range of book offerings.
Check it out here.
Know of any more?
If you know of other book marketplaces or even individual booksellers that we should know about, please leave a comment!