The below references are resources for researching, sourcing, pricing, and selling books. Links with a "$" next to them are paid services. Numbers in brackets at the ends of descriptions are the dates the resource was added to the list by [month/year].
ORGANIZATIONS - Library
ARL. The Association of Research Libraries is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries at comprehensive research-intensive institutions in the U.S. and Canada who share similar research missions, aspirations and achievements. Click on “Who We Are” on the home page and then “List of ARL Members” to see a list of ARL members and their websites. [6/19]
IRLA. The Independent Research Libraries Association was established in 1972 in order to address the future of independent, privately supported research libraries. From its inception, IRLA has dealt with common needs and aspirations – how to preserve the precious cultural heritage represented in its vast collections, how best to serve the public and the world of scholarship and how to finance and manage costly, fragile libraries that must survive largely without the security of public or university support. Its 19 members include the American Antiquarian Society, the Folger Library, the Morgan Library & Museum, the Virginia Historical Society, The Newberry Library, the Linda Hall Library and the Huntington Library. The members and their websites are listed on the IRLA homepage. [6/19]
The Oberlin Group of Liberal Arts College Libraries. In the mid-1980s, the late Bill Moffett (then Director of Libraries at Oberlin) formed a steering committee that called a meeting of about 60 selective liberal arts college library directors. The first meeting was held at Oberlin (hence the group’s name) in November 1986. From the beginning the Oberlin Group has functioned informally and with minimal structure. Its main purpose has been to share information among the directors in a collegial way and to establish an atmosphere of encouragement and support. Membership is currently restricted to 80 institutions. For links to all 80, press “About” on the website home page and then “80 Members” in the last paragraph of prose that comes up. TB guesses that about a third of the Oberlin Group colleges have full-time special collections librarians, including Amherst, Carleton, Mills, and Oberlin Colleges.
RBMS. The Rare Books & Manuscripts Section of the ALA/ACRL (American Library Association / American College and Research Libraries). Information about the forthcoming and previous annual RBMS conferences, educational opportunities (including a list of library schools), a list of Leab exhibition catalog award-winning catalogs, a list of recent thefts of rare books, and much other useful information. [6/19]
ORGANIZATIONS – Book Trade and Bibliophile
ABA. Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association [UK]. Founded in 1906, the ABA is the oldest organization of its kind in the world. It is the senior trade body for dealers in antiquarian and rare books, manuscripts and allied materials in the British Isles. The website features a variety of resources, including list of forthcoming book fairs. [6/19]
ABAA. Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America. The Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America was founded in 1949 to promote interest in rare and antiquarian books and book collecting, and to foster collegial relations. All members agree to abide by the ABAA's Code of Ethics. The ABAA website has many useful resources, and the site is well worth browsing. [6/19]
CABS, That’s us! You can also find us on Facebook at
FABS. Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies. The website contains a list (with addresses, websites, contact persons) of the 30-odd members. This list might be very useful if you are looking for book collectors’ clubs in your area. [6/19]
ILAB. The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers has, as its members, 22 national associations representing thirty-four countries and about 1,800 individual affiliates. It strives to uphold and improve professional standards in the trade, to promote honorable conduct in business, and to contribute in various ways to a broader appreciation of the history and art of the book. Its website has many interesting and informative features, including a directory of its member organizations with links to their websites, a list of affiliated individual member firms arranged by country (with a world map showing their locations), information about international internships, antiquarian book news, and a stolen books database (click on “About ILAB” on the home page). [6/19]
IOBA. The Independent Online Booksellers Association. IOBA was founded in 1999 by a group of concerned online booksellers. When the internet began to take on a life of its own around this time, and several pioneer used/out-of-print/antiquarian book search services opened their electronic doors for business, many used and/or academic and/or antiquarian booksellers became their partners in these ventures. Even at this early date, however, it became obvious that there needed to be a reconciliation between the wonderful efficiency and relative anonymity of online selling with the importance of maintaining traditional values of honesty and accuracy. Forming a trade association gave online dealers an opportunity to address the key issues of establishing trust between bookseller and book buyer, helping to train future generations of new booksellers, advocating for its members, and acting as a clearinghouse for information. The IOBA home page provides links to a directory of members, members’ blogs, and other useful information. [6/19]
PBFA. Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association (UK). Website resources include list of forthcoming fairs, advice to beginning collectors, and books offered for sale (with useful subject divisions) by members – generally with more illustrations than you get in corresponding ABE or Alibris listings by other dealers. The website is not set up to handle orders for member dealers’ books directly; once you’ve located an item of interest, it’s easiest to purchase the book via ABE or Biblio or wherever else the dealer has placed it, or with an email enquiry directly to the dealer. [6/19]
DISCUSSION GROUPS – LISTSERVS
BOOK_ARTS-L is a listserv based at Syracuse University, founded in 1994 and owned by Peter Verheyen, with about 3,000 subscribers worldwide, among them practicing bookbinders, book-artists, marblers, papermakers, printers, collectors, curators in libraries, and people just interested in these wide and varied fields. All members [membership is free] may post anything they feel might be of interest to others. This has included everything from discussions such as what is a book, to technical Q&A, to offerings of services and supplies by vendors in the book arts, as well as exhibition notices and advertisements of related books for sale, including "fine press" books, especially if available in sheets. [6/19]
ExLIBRIS-L. Exlibris provides an environment for discussing matters related to rare book and manuscript librarianship, including special collections and related issues. It is not intended to be a primary medium for the sale and purchase of books (See Section VI below), though dealers are invited to announce new lists and catalogs. Membership is open to anyone who wishes to subscribe. [6/19]
SHARP-L. The listserv of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing, sharp-L, is a sensible, moderated list, typically producing perhaps a dozen messages a week on subjects related to the Society’s interests. The link above provides information on joining the list, which is free: it is not necessary to be a member of SHARP to subscribe to sharp-l. There is some overlap between sharp-l and with ExLibris-L and BookArts-L, but not annoyingly so.
DATABASES – VARIOUS SUBJECTS
American imprints. The catalog of the American Antiquarian Society includes not only printed books owned by the AAS (these will show up in WorldCat), but also newspapers, prints, broadsides, and other material that will often not show up elsewhere. The AAS’s collection of pre-1877 American imprints is the best in the world. [6/19]
American Library Directory Online. Comprehensive and current information on libraries across North America. In the online version, subscribers can view detailed information about more than 30,000 public, academic, and special libraries in the United States and Canada. Profiles include address and phone numbers, e-mail addresses, special collections and holdings, personnel and finances.
Strategies: (1) You can sign up for a 14-day free trial of the service. The ALD is also available in hard copy; new editions come out every other year. (2) The most recent 2-volume edition (2017-2018) is $399 (though about $200 new via amazon.com). Many organizations buy each new edition as it comes out and sell the old one. You can buy a copy of (say) the 2013-2014 edition on viaLibri for $100 or less. Some of the names of personnel will be out of date, but the addresses and lists of special collections won’t have changed significantly. (3) There are a great many more libraries in this country than people generally realize or know about. Look up your own town or state in the copy of ALD in the CABS Reference Books collection, and see how many entries you recognize.
Ancestry.com can be flaky, but sometimes even without a subscription it can be helpful in determining dates of a person's life or connections within a family, via a free Historical Records and Person search (see links at the bottom of the home page). [6/19]
Author's Signatures. Tomfolio maintains a database of references for author signatures and is continuously updated. [5/22]
Broadway. The most comprehensive reference to the Broadway stage online.
Digital books. A large number of books in special collections have been scanned and made available at the above three sites. There is overlap between them, and which to use is likely down to preference. Useful when needing to compare a copy at hand with something else, but the digital copies should not be treated as necessarily complete. A number of bibliographic references have also been digitized here, and with a free account you can create an online reference library.[6/21]
Dust Jackets. A quick and dirty way to check points on a jacket if you are in the field and don't have a reference at hand.
European library holdings. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology – European metasearch site for library holdings. [6/19]
English Short-title catalogue of books published before 1800. Includes books in English no matter where published, and all books published in the UK, Ireland, and North America no matter what language.
Film. The most comprehensive film database online.
Heraldry.Descriptions and meanings gleaned from a variety of sources. The most commonly accepted meanings are given, though scholars vary in the their opinions concerning the reliability of any "commonly held" historic meanings for coats of arms and crests. [6/19]
Japanese language books. CiNii (pronounced Shee-Nee) is the database of a Japanese library consortium, similar to OCLC. [6/19]
Modern Library. Scott Kamins’ site for detailed info on Modern Library issues (and one path to acquiring the flawed but essential ML reference work – the “Toledano” price guide). [6/19]
Newspapers. Useful for identifying provenance, doing genealogical research, and scouting up contemporary reviews of books.
OCLC – Same data set as WorldCat but with more information and more powerful search options. [6/19]
Rare Books Reference Works. A library of 230+ rare book reference works, including a few of the essential antiquarian references for continental books, such as Brunet, Vicaire, Cohen-de Ricci, etc. This was originally a fee-for-service site run by a private organization in France, but it was taken over by Stanford University Libraries in 2017 or so and is now completely free. [6/21]
Research library websites. Link from the LOC website to hundreds of university & institutional libraries worldwide. [6/19]
Plays. More on plays.[6/19]
Scholarly journals. Available to a great many high school and college students and faculty, so if a family member is a student… Most academic libraries have subscriptions, available free for onsite use. [6/19]
Scholarly journals. A tool that bypasses paywalls on an almost comprehensive number of scholarly articles. The url changes regularly but a search typically will bring the tool up without trouble. Very useful for when you're tracking down article citations. [2/21]
Science fiction. The Locus Index to Science Fiction and various other guides to genre fiction in hardcover and the pulps on CD-ROM. [6/19]
Science fiction. Comprehensive bibliographic information for Sci-fi books and magazines, including works in translation. [6/21]
Sheet music consortium. [6/19]
USTC. The Universal Short Title Catalogue is a collective database of all books published in Europe between the invention of printing and the end of the 16th century. It is hosted by the University of St Andrews (Fife, Scotland). [6/19]
WorldCat. The most comprehensive library catalog online. Once on the site, it’s useful to go straight to Advanced Search, rather than using the Omnium Gatherum box on the home page. [6/19]
BOOK SEARCH ENGINES & AGGREGATORS
Addall. Enables searches by in-print books, used books, magazines, music, and movies. [6/19]
Bookfinder. Books listed in order of ascending prices; invoke the Show More Options option for filtering by author/title/keywords/price range, &c. [6/19]
Invaluable. Lists of auction houses, forthcoming auction sales; provides catalogs of forthcoming online auctions; with an free account, you can bid online. [6/19]
Live Auctioneers. Another auction aggregate site. It tracks both upcoming and past auctions from multiple sources. Accounts are free. [6/21]
viaLibri. Search any combination of author/title/keyword, with option to exclude unwanted terms. Allows filtering, ordering by date, year, price, seller, &c. Similar to addall and bookfinder (see above). [6/19]
Worthpoint. A tad pricey at $20 a month, but is good for researching ebay sales records going back further than 6 months, and material that is more peripheral to books, such as ephemera. The site also has some useful secondary tools, such as a digital reference library of over 1,000 books and price guides, and a database of autographs and hallmarks. [6/21]
Auctions. Provides information about regional and local retail, wholesale, storage, online, and other forthcoming auctions. [6/19]
Craigslist. Search in ‘for sale/books’ and on the term ‘books’ in ‘for sale/garage and moving sales’ and ‘free.’ [6/19]
eBay. It is sometimes possible to buy individual titles and/or lots at bargain prices by monitoring eBay’s “Books” category, especially if you further refine your search to “Antiquarian and Collectible Books” and then by a specific chronological period (e.g. “1850-1899”). [6/19]
Estate sales. Locate upcoming estate sales in U.S. and Canada (note: use “search” and/or “advanced search” to zero in on books in a particular radius, along with other qualifiers).[6/19]
Library sales. Schedule of upcoming library sales in the U.S. and Canada. [6/19]
ABAA Glossary of Terms. A short list of all of the major abberviations and descriptive terms most commonly found in American booksellers' descriptions. [6/22]
Bookbinding styles (cloth). The British Library’s enormous bookbinding site. It allows you to do a keyword search for a specific binding style. [6/19]
[website no longer active]
Bookbinding styles (leather). The online catalog of a 2004 University of Miami exhibition called “Bound to Please: An Exhibition of Fine Leather Bindings” provided images of major leather bookbinding styles. The site is no longer available directly, but the entire exhibition can still be accessed in full via the WayBackMachine website.
Cloth bookbindings (history). The University of Rochester’s library website provides an excellent introduction to the subject. [6/19]
Controlled Vocabulary. RBMS's list of recommended terms for the description of rare books in a special collections context. [3/23]
Cyrillic Translations. Leave settings at [Standard: Choose from 4], [Phonetic: AATSEEL Student], then cut and paste your Cyrillic text into Google translate (http://translate.google.com/#ru|en|) [6/19]
Dust jackets. Helpful free source for identifying vintage jackets, esp. mysteries. Not bibliographically stringent, but the site owner actively works to identify as many first edition jackets as he can. [6/19]
Identifying first editions. Do I have a first edition, or not? The definitive sources are generally in print, but this site, First Edition Points, offers a free database of some of the popularly collected titles, including pictures of many points of issue. [6/19]
Identifying publishers’ first editions. Allen and Pat Ahearn’s Quill & Brush web guide to the identification of publishers’ first editions is not nearly as complete as McBride, but it will readily answer most questions. [6/19]
Illustration process ID. The Image Permanence Institute of the Rochester Institute of Technology maintains an online Graphics Atlas, an object-based approach to the identification and characterization of prints and photographs. The site’s primary interest is with photographic processes, but there is a good deal here regarding pre-photographic processes, as well, copiously illustrated with high-resolution images. [6/19]
Illustration process descriptions. The Getty Institute’s Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) contains terms, synonyms, definitions, and relationships for objects, styles, materials, and other topics related to art, architecture, and related material culture. If you put in a term like “mezzotint,” you will summon up nearly a dozen links providing information about the process. One of them -- “mezzotint (process)” – provides a list of the names of the process in various European languages, and a great deal of other information, with links. [6/19]
Illustration process descriptions. This is a glossary of a great many abbreviations found on printed images, e.g. "scul." "sculp." "sculpcit" etc. all with the meaning "has engraved".
Illustrators, engravers, &c. The Getty Institute’s Union List of Artist Names has entries for an enormous number of persons who contributed in some way to the graphic arts. You can (for example) put the name of an engraver in ULAN and (more reliably than Wikipedia) get back dates, biographical information, links, and so on, for an enormous number of persons. The whole site is well worth exploring. [6/19]
Language Keyboards. Provides a point and click keyboard for dozens of langauges. Useful not just for transliteration or searching for a title in a foreign language, but also identifying the language of a book. [2/21]
Language of Bindings. The Language of Bindings Thesaurus (LoB) is a thesaurus of bookbinding terms for book structures dating from the ninth to the nineteenth century. You can browse alphabetically or by general concept.
Leather. J. Hewit and Sons (Edinburgh, UK) is a major provider of bookbinding skins; the company’s website is full of information about leather. While on the site, take a look at Skin Deep, the company’s informative twice-yearly newsletter. [6/19]
Manuscript Society Criteria for Describing Manuscripts and Documents. Standards for description, abbreviations, and definitions. [6/22]
Marbled paper. Site mounted by the University of Washington. Lists pattern names (and gives alternates) with images (note the “Browse Collection” feature). [6/19]
Marbled paper. Iris Nevins is one of the best-known American paper marblers. Her site provides images of many of the traditional marbled paper patterns, conveniently displayed in thumbnail images on her home page. She has a large stock of marbled and decorated papers for sale. [6/19]
Early Office Museum. There is much information here about various c20 ways of duplicating texts in an office or do-it-yourself or other informal or underground environment. There are separate pages devoted to typewriters,; date, cancelling, time, number, and name stamps; copying machines (including copying presses, copying pad baths, roller copiers, loose-leaf copiers, stencil duplicating machines, &c.), and suchlike, with detailed descriptions and pictures. [6/19]
eBay. Use the advanced search/completed listings option to see actual prices realized on recent auctions.
Terapeak. Allows you to research a full-year history of eBay auctions and Amazon sales. A free trial membership is available. [6/19]
ABEBooks. The ABE advanced search URL, one of the best ways to gauge pricing for collectible titles (and to sharpen your listing skills). [6/19]
The Ahearn APG series – Provides comprehensive and thorough bibliographies and price guides for 19th and 20th century literature – available as a set or as individual per-author guides.
Heritage auction archive – nearly 2.5 million auction records for books, movie posters, art, coins, and other collectibles, with high-resolution images. Provides prices realized if you sign up for an (free) account. [6/19]
American Book Prices Current [ABPC] – The most thorough auction history database available online, including prices realized for all major auction houses in the US and England back to 1975, including very brief descriptions. Subscription allows a customer to call ABPC with queries prior to 1975.[6/19]
Rare Book Hub. Formerly called The Americana Exchange. Free registration gives you access to a detailed calendar of forthcoming auctions, an international directory of dealers, the very readable online periodical Rare book monthly, and other features. Paid memberships are available at various levels, from $365 to $675/year. Like ABPC, the site provides (for paying members) auction prices realized, as well as records of past dealer prices on books (though the entries are not verified and they are thus less reliable than the carefully vetted ABPC records). With a paid membership, you can sell books via the website. [6/19]
Art prices. Subscription plans range from $33/day ($199/yr) to $58/mo ($412/year). [6/19]
Bags Unlimited - mylar sleeves and bags, &c. [6/19]
Brodart – libraries supplies and furniture, jacket protectors, conservation tools, mylar rolls. [6/19]
Comic Sleeves. All three vendors provide mylar sleeves in a variety of styles and sizes. Good for all sorts of ephemera or paper material. [6/21]
Gaylord Archival – jacket protectors, conservation tools, mylar rolls. [6/19]
Joyce Godsey’s web site – supplies for cleaning, repair, etc. [6/19]
Grafixarts. Plastic film; Dura-Lar (an alternative to acetate). [6/19]
TALAS. Supplier of choice for conservators and bookbinders. [6/19]
ULINE – boxes and shipping supplies. [6/19]
MISCELLANEOUS USEFUL WEBSITES
The Bibliophile Mailing List is maintained by Lynn DeWeese-Parkinson for the benefit of sellers and/or collectors of rare, out-of-print, scarce books in all subject areas. Subscribers include librarians, students, scholars, and book lovers of all kinds. Participants will find books offered from a few dollars to many thousands of dollars. Includes an idiosyncratic but interesting list of online book-finding, bookselling, and educational resources. [6/19]
Social Justice, Equity, Accessibility, and Power in the Trade and in the Archives. A reading list of material on the topic of social justice and the trade, with information on material description, library policies, professional association guidelines, and educational materials on the subject more broadly. This is a working google doc, allowing anyone to submit suggestions for material to be added to the list. [12/21]
Powells. Powells buys some ISBN books and pays shipping cost; may be useful for generating revenue from stock below your price threshold, outside your focus, or when thinning stock. [6/19]
Craig Stark’s resources for booksellers. Craig Stark’s web site – a useful place for new booksellers to pick up helpful information. Includes sporadically active discussion group, articles from Craig and others, subscription newsletters, &c. [6/19]
Translations. For quick-and-dirty translation of text from one language to another. [6/19]