ABE - a good service or spawn of the devil ?

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ABE - a good service or spawn of the devil ?

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Ago 24, 2006, 6:45am


My wife and I are in the book trade and looking for new outlets - has anyone bought/sold on Abe, and if so, how did you find it ?

I gather Abe tends to polarise opinion - but we`d welcome any comments, favourable or otherwise.

Ago 24, 2006, 6:58am

You should know that AbeBooks is a part owner of LibraryThing, though low-key to the point of invisibility.

I bought one book from AbeBooks a few weeks back, successfully & satisifed - influenced by the LT link. Half-an-hour ago I bought my second - Hofstadter's Le Ton Beau de Marot - and fully expect it to arrive safely & swiftly - fingers crossed. Oh, and I'm in France so this isn't a local delivery.

Ago 24, 2006, 6:59am

The good thing about Abebooks is that you can usually find what you are looking for. The experience of buying a book tends to be dependent upon each bookseller, although I would say that the positive outweighs the negative.

Having said that, I always check Amazon first - the sellers in Amazon seem to be slightly cheaper, as does the postage. Likewise, when I find a book in Abebooks I check to see if the bookseller has a individual website, and if (s)he does have one, am more likely to deal directly with them.

Regardless, I would have to recommend Abebooks as it gives the bookseller an outlet to advertise that doesn't really exist elsewhere.

Ago 24, 2006, 11:32am

I have used Abebooks a few times, to buy hard to find books. (My sister collects Chalet School books and she likes the originals!)
The great thing about Abebooks is that I can buy the book from anywhere in the world that it's available. Also I live in the U.S. and my sister lives in the U.K., so if I am able to buy a book from a British bookseller I can save on postage.

Sep 5, 2006, 1:13pm

In my experience as a customer, it's an invaluable website. I've bought quite a few obscure books through Abebooks.co.uk. I find the search engine very good, and the website is simple to use. As a buyer, I find it much better than Amazon Marketplace, where a lot of the time people don't really have the book they're advertising, for some reason.

My only (very minor) complaint is that there's no option to organise your search results by total price, i.e. including p&p - I've noticed that some booksellers have very low book prices, but charge a lot more for p&p, so you have to work out for yourself which is actually the cheapest option.

In fact, I would love the opportunity to sell my books on Abebooks, but since I'm an individual, I just don't have enough of a turnover of books to make it worthwhile.

Dic 24, 2006, 2:17pm

ABEbooks has enabled me to track down out-of-print books I've been unable to find anywhere else. For that alone, I'm extremely grateful.

They're also a local success story, so there's also a little civic pride there for me!

However, the sellers' shipping charges appear to be individually set, and can vary widely. I usually do a spot of comparison-shopping (e.g. checking what's available through Amazon Marketplace) before I commit to ABEbooks.

However, the great virtue of ABE is that you can create a wishlist of longed-for books. Last month, I was immediately notified of the availability of an out-of-print book that I've been wanting for ages. I was able to buy it on the spot. That's... just wonderful.

Editado: Mar 12, 2007, 10:06am

I agree with eccentrica (#5). I dont use it very often but have used it for buying second-hand books. For example I got a couple on the Lancashire cotton industry and a book on cotton mills in Greater Manchester. I doubt whether I could ever have sourced them in Inverness. One thing I noticed is that sometimes the search turns up more than one copy at widely different prices. I've chosen the cheapest (unless stated to be in poor condition) and been well pleased.

Mar 12, 2007, 10:29am

My problem with ABE books isd the limited payment methods. In the UK they seem to only accept Visa and Mastercard. I have neither and normally use Maestro for on line payments.

I did not find this out unlit I had wasted my time selecting several books, which I then could not purchase.

May 6, 2007, 1:13pm

I found ABE very useful when I realized that a recent book I wanted in hardback was now only available in the shops in paperback. No problem finding one on ABE at a dealer in collectable books, and at a fair price even though I had to buy a copy signed by the author, which was an unnecessary bonus as far as I was concerned!

Abr 29, 2008, 3:56am

I have a friend who uses ABE a lot but I've only tried it once and then discovered I could have got the book for £2 less on Amazon.

Editado: Abr 29, 2008, 6:18am

Abe has it`s strengths and it`s weakneses.

One thing to watch out for, the Abe feedback system, asssuming it`s not changed, grades sellers only on how many orders they successfully satisfy (i.e. send out). That`s very different from the more open E-Bay feedback system.

I ordered a book by Walter Tyrer not so long ago from an Abe seller with a pretty unimpressive feedback rating, principally because no-one else had it and it was cheap. Did I ever get it ? No. Now I`m not too bothered - I got my money back OK - but I`ve got better things to do than order books from people who either don`t have them.

In this particular case, the seller has a `bricks and mortar` shop, and simply lists part of his stock on Abe as a sideline. Possibly he`d sold the book over the counter, but I know the volume in question is a very slim, 1940s pulp-style publication with a paper cover and suspect he simply couldn`t find it.

# 10

I was talking to a man in the book trade recently who mentioned that `a friend of his` has a massive stock of books and quite knowingly puts some on abe at inflated prices, even when others have listed comparable copies more cheaply. The logic behind this was so lame as to be frivolous. I noticed my acquaintance became rather defensive when I poked fun at `his friend`s` woolly thinking, so I suspect this `friend` was actually him.

All I would say about that is, whichever site you use - and plenty of people use Abe quite happily - always compare on other selling sites for condition and price. As a general rule, Abe tends to be the province of dealers, whereas E-Bay has quite a number of dealers (myself included) but also has a lot of people who are just clearing out a house or whatever. Abe certainly has the greater number of books, but possibly less chance of a bargain.

Does anyone use Antiqbook ? I use it quite a bit to check prices, but can`t recall ever buying anything on it.

Editado: Abr 30, 2008, 1:53am

It's the first time I've been caught out re price Nick but I would use Abe again. I find the actual site really good as well as I've had a browse on there many a time but not bought from there.

I also tend to look at www.greenmetropolis.com as a comparison to Amazon.

May 2, 2008, 2:28pm

I`ll look out for that. Cheers.

May 30, 2008, 7:23am

I'm forever indebted to Abebooks because the automated search system emailed me when a book I'd been seeking for over 20 years turned up at a bookstore in the UK. Within five minutes I'd whipped out the card and bought it.

May 30, 2008, 8:13am

So, today I learn another thing.

Just checked out abebooks having heard of it on this thread.

Tried 3 hard-to-find books I have been seeking and all are available, and all but 1 are available here in the UK!

Jun 5, 2008, 5:02pm

#14 That's really great!

Editado: Mar 26, 2009, 7:15pm

I've ordered a lot of books from ABE, just checking now, I've made 30 orders, for 51 books. 4 of these orders were cancelled, as the book was listed as in stock, but actually wasn't there, and 5 books were refunded because they were not sent as described. This has happened a few times, where I have ordered a hardback edition, and been sent a paperback, but they have always refunded me, without any hassle.
I find Abe very good for tracking down books difficult to find in shops, but if the book is a common one, it would probably be best to get it from a shop, as it probably won't cost much more, if it does, and it saves postage.
I sometimes find that books can be found a bit cheaper on ebay, if the seller isn't aware of how much they are worth, or there doesn't happen to be anyone else looking for it at the time.
I've never bought books from Amazon, but I have looked on there a few times, and not found the book cheaper. I tend not to use Amazon mainly due to its poor book searching tools, there are no search fields for publisher, hardback, year of publication ect, whereas Abe has pretty much most of the search fields you could want.

Mar 27, 2009, 5:32am

#17: I agree about Amazon's poor search tools. It can be frustrating dredging through pages to try to find what you're looking for. It's the same with music. Putting quotes round the author's name (say) "Elizabeth Braddon", or using the advanced tools makes no difference. The engine still returns every possible permutation of the keywords you've entered.

Having said that, I've experienced very few disappointments through Amazon, and I've bought a lot of books there.

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