This weekend (June 18-19) we will be attending a conference in Cambridge with the promising title of: Mania and Imagination: Perils and pleasures of the private collector, present and future. Odd though it may seem, I am actually excited by the idea of spending two days discussing the current and future state of book collecting. Especially the future bit. The conversations I am most often engaged in along these lines generally trend towards irritation and despair. Things like PODs, kindles, robopricing and the relentless decline in the value of books once thought to be rare have put a sour taste in the mouths of many who first entered the world of book collecting in the pre-digital age. Optimism about the future of collecting books seems to be a scarce commodity among the bibliophiles of my generation.
But I’m expecting that the conference in Cambridge will reflect a more hopeful outlook. I find it hard to imagine that many participants would pay a fee and travel all the way to King’s College, for two days, just to grumble about how the current and future prospects for collectors have been ruined by the internet.
I do, I admit, wonder what the perils referred to in the conference title might actually be referring to. Mania? That, of course, would be nothing new. But perhaps it is changing its form. That could be interesting. And there is a session devoted, simply, to Dilemmas. I am eager to learn what those might be. (I think it must be the problem of how to adjust to a world where the digitally-driven flood of collecting opportunities exceeds our capacity to evaluate or purchase them. Could it possibly be anything else?)
So I am looking forward to seeing old friends, perhaps meeting a few new ones, and having a generally stimulating weekend talking about old books. And I will also be taking notes, which means you may hear more about this again in the future. The glorious future.
If you have been giving any thought to selling books on your own website, or if you already have a website but haven’t yet figured out how to get collectors to actually visit it, then we have an announcement that we think should be of interest to you: LibriDirect has now officially been launched. And what is LibriDirect? It is, in a nutshell, how independent booksellers can use viaLibri to bring customers to their websites.
This is, of course, something we have been working on for years. It began with developing tools to harvest websites and put the books of independent booksellers into search results on viaLibri. It was a good start, but the technical requirements, though simple, were an obstacle for many of the sellers who wanted to sign up. We realised early on that we also needed to develop a solution where the technical requirements were already taken care of. We needed to build websites ourselves that came with all the necessary features already built in. And these we named LibriDirect because their purpose, above all else, was to bring booksellers into direct connection with the online customers who bought their books.
But it also became more than just that. In the process of creating websites we found ourselves reexamining the entire question of how to sell books on the internet, especially in the wake of the incredible growth of social media and the dramatic transition of the internet from a primarily textual to an overwhelmingly visual medium. We are quite optimistic about what these trends will mean for the future of book collecting, and, by extension, bookselling.
It was with these things in mind that we took a stand at the London Olympia book fair where we hoped to talk with booksellers about the future of bookselling and to demonstrate, in particular, how LibriDirect websites can help them find their future customers in the advancing digital age.
However, if you wanted to learn more, but couldn’t drop by, you have not been forgotten. We have prepared a special page that describes many of the things we things we might have told you if we had had the chance. Just follow this link to and discover what LibriDirect can do for you.
Unless you have been paying very close attention you probably hadn’t noticed that viaLibri has recently started building websites. We are doing this, in particular, for booksellers who want to be connected directly to the collectors who find books to buy when searching on viaLibri. Of course, for several years now we have been “harvesting” data from existing individual websites and using it to create “Direct From Bookseller” purchase links. But for us to do that you already had to have your own website, and it needed to be set up in a certain way. Now, if you don’t have your own website we can go ahead and build one for you. And it will, of course, be fully connected to search results from viaLibri and the Libribot wants manager.
Today we launched one of these new websites for our old friend Janette Ray and are eager to invite all our followers to pay it a visit at www.janetteray.co.uk.
I have always enjoyed looking at Janette’s books at fairs, and have even visited her shop in distant York. Anyone with an interest in architecture, design, planning, landscape architecture or similar subjects should find click on her website to be worthwhile. You should also note that her books can only be purchased online directly from her site, and nowhere else. They will, of course, be searchable on viaLibri (as well as on the ILAB and ABA websites) but you have to go directly to Janette if you want to actually buy one.
And if you think you might want a website of your own like Janette’s you should get in touch. If you happen to be in London this weekend we will have a stand at Olympia and will be happy to discuss the possibilities (see our previous post). If you will be somewhere else this weekend you can always just contact us via email. We look forward to hearing from you either way.
The annual London International Antiquarian Book Fair happens next week and viaLibri will be there. We hope you will be there too. If we haven’t yet had a chance to talk in person, we hope you will take this opportunity to drop by booth L07 and say hello.
If you do come by you will also get a chance to meet Alasdair North, our CTO and general technological whiz. Al has taken in hand a great digital leap forward for viaLibri and he will be happy to talk about the future, and your suggestions for it, if you are able to drop by.
There is one thing in particular that will be on our screens for you to see. Our recently launched LibriDirect website platform lets us build powerful but economical websites that connect individual booksellers directly to the international stream of bibliophiles who use viaLibri and Libribot on a regular basis. If you are thinking of getting your own website, or already have a website that you would like to connect directly with viaLibri, then by all means come by. And if you want to make an appointment for an in-depth discussion then please let us know.
Of course, if you would rather just walk around and look at all the wonderful books on display then we will understand. You can always contact us later after the fair is over.
For details about attending the the fair click HERE
And if you would like a free ticket just click this link: http://www.olympiabookfair.com/index.pl?id=2199
To contact us for more information, or to schedule a meeting at the fair, just click HERE.
We have just added ABC Antiquariat Marco Pinkus to the ranks of booksellers with websites being harvested and searched by viaLibri. Located in Zurich, Switzerland, they can now claim the honour of being the first Swiss booksellers to have their websites searched directly by viaLibri and Libribot. (I should note that the honours for the US, UK, Germany, Ireland, France, Denmark, Australia, and Italy have already been claimed).
You can, of course, find books directly on their website, abc-buch.ch, and we heartily encourage you to do so. Otherwise, the only place on the internet where you can currently search for their books is on viaLibri, and on the several ILAB sites whose search engines we built and maintain. So we are especially pleased have ABC Antiquariat Marco Pinkus as our newest partner and thank them for the confidence they have placed in us.
I will be spending most of the next four days wandering the isles at the Paris International Antiquarian Book Fair (AKA Grand Palais). Anyone else who will be there and thinks they might enjoy a break to discuss viaLibri, LibriBot, or anything else of a similar nature, should definitely get in touch. Click HERE to send me a message, and be sure to leave the number for your mobile phone.
We have just added J & J Lubrano to the ever-growing list of booksellers whose individual websites are being searched directly by viaLibri. They have also just redesigned their site, so if you are interested in things related to music and dance you may want to pay them a visit.
In addition to being among the world’s foremost specialists in their field, they are also old friends we have known since our earliest days as booksellers in New England over 35 years ago. So we are more than usually happy to now welcome them on board.
We have just added to our search results a short notation indicating the country from which a listed book will be shipped. The information will be found, in brackets, to the right of the bookseller’s name. If you are concerned about delivery time or shipping costs, this feature will help you to identify books that can be shipped from someplace near by.
Over the years many users have asked us to include this information and we are very happy to be able to do so at last. Unfortunately, a couple of sites do not yet give us the location data we need and cannot be included in this feature; but we think that “most” is still better than “none”.
If you are among our many users who regularly search for early editions only to receive search results that are swamped with modern reprints then our first new feature should be of great interest. We have now added a check box that allows you to exclude from your search results all books which have been assigned an ISBN number.
The general use of ISBN numbers did not begin until the 1970s, so it is fairly safe to assume that any book which has been assigned one will not have been printed before then. Most online second-hand booksellers are careful to include ISBNs, when known, as part of their descriptions. By checking the box marked “No ISBNs” you can thus filter out a large number of modern reprints of older titles.
The filtering is not complete, since there are still some booksellers who do not use ISBN when cataloging their books, but the number that can be eliminated in this way is substantial. When used along with our “No PODs” check box you should be able to avoid much of the annoying chaff that would otherwise clutter your searches for old and rare books. And we have also updated the Search Manager to make use of this new filter, so if you are using Libribot you can also update your wants to reduce the number of unwanted matches.
We have just added a pair of new features that we know will be of interest to at least a few of our most active users. It is now possible to perform multiple deletes of unwanted match results without having to manually check the check box for each separate item. Once this feature is activated you only have to check the items you want to keep.
We have also added the ability to perform bulk deletes of Libribot matches that no longer need to be saved. This feature has been requested by several of our users and we are pleased to finally make it available.
Details on using these new features will be found HERE and HERE.