How to Find and Buy Rare Books on AbeBooks
If you are new to AbeBooks trying to find the single book you want out of the millions of rare and collectible books available can be a little daunting. Below are a few tips to help you easily find whatever you happen be looking for.
Make a Detailed Search
The most important thing you can do is include as much information about the book you are trying to find as possible, this will help reduce the number of false positive search results you will receive. By including the author, title, publisher and publication date into your searches so you can easily narrow search down to the specific edition of a title.
Include more details into your search via the advanced search box which is located by clicking the “More Search Options” link in a search box or “Advanced Search” on the red navigation bar at the top of the AbeBooks website.
Highest Price First
If you are in the market for a first edition or collectible copy of a certain title but are unsure of all the publication details needed to detail your search more carefully one fast way to see what variety of stock is available is to change the sort order of your search to “highest price.” Scan through the highest priced items to see what is on offer, once you locate the edition or characteristics you desire you can copy down the necessary bibliographic information and try searching again, this time to see if an equivalent copy can be found at a better price.
The highest first sort option is available in the “sort results by” drop box which is located just below the refinements box on the right hand side of your screen.
Refine by Images
Again if you are not sure of all the bibliographic information for a book (ie publisher, publication date, etc) but know the cover that you desire you may wish to refine your search by “Bookseller supplied images.” This will allow you to scroll through search results for the book title you want until you see the edition and publication with the desired cover art. Once you find the right edition copy the publication details and re-search to see if there are any other copies listed that are in better condition, are closer to you, or are cheaper.
The bookseller supplied images filter option is available in the “features” drop box which is located in the top left corner of the refinements box.
Ask Bookseller a Question
If ever you are unsure about a specific listing, and AbeBooks online glossary and help pages are unable to explain your quandary, you can always send the bookseller a message to ask for a photo of the item or for additional information about the book.
The Ask Bookseller a Question link is located on every listing in the search results below the “Book Description” on the far right side. It can also be found on every “Book Details Page” by clicking “Bookseller & Payment Information” and then “Ask Bookseller a Question”.
Boolean searching on the internet essentially means using the words AND/OR/NOT within your searches to increase the accuracy of the results. An example of where this would be useful is if you wanted to find copies of 1984 by George Orwell but you do not wish to see Spark Notes study guides. This could be accomplished by bringing up “Advanced Search” entering “Orwell” into the Author field and “1984 NOT Spark Notes” into the Title and then turning “Boolean Searching” to on.
Most Recently Listed
Sometimes you will be looking for a specific book for a long period of time, perhaps the book is very rare or perhaps you are particularly keen to find it for less than the current market value. Whatever the reason you may wish to search on AbeBooks by “Most Recently Listed”. By displaying books which have been most recently added to AbeBooks first you can sometimes spot a bargain before another collector.
The Most Recently Listed sort option is available in the “sort results by” drop box which is located just below the refinements box on the right hand side of your screen.
When you have searched for a book on AbeBooks and are, for whatever reason, unable to find it you can place a “Want” on this book. Enter the details for your search as normal. AbeBooks will then re-run this search several times a day and email you once someone has uploaded a book for sale which matches your search criteria. AbeBooks will continue to email matches until you decide to delete your want. It is very important that you make your want search as exact as possible and that you perform a search first to determine if any items are available.