It’s been on our to-do list for a long time, so we are now especially pleased to be able to announce the addition of a paperback filter to our advanced search form.
Over the years since our launch in 2006 there have been few added features that have been more often requested than the ability to exclude paperbacks from our search results. The delay was not due to a failure to understand how valuable this feature would be. Our hesitancy was due chiefly to the difficulties involved in implementing it in a way that did not create more problems that it solved.
What we have done is different from anything similar you might find on other sites. Many other sites present you with an option for limiting your results to either hardcovers or paperbacks. This would seem like a logical choice if it were not for the fact that a significant number of the books that are offered on antiquarian book sites are not described by their sellers as either. Binding type is not binary, so many sellers will leave this information blank and give a proper binding description in the full text of their cataloging comments.
This is fine, except for the fact that many of our users only want first or early editions and are seriously annoyed by the quantity of cheap paperbacks that are returned in their search results. If they try to avoid them by checking a binding option for hardcovers only then there is a real chance they may miss something they would want.
My assumption is that the customers who choose “hardcover” as a binding option are really doing so because they want to filter out all the cheap paperbacks that they would get otherwise. So we give them an option that does that instead. It filters out what they don’t want and leaves everything else. It’s not perfect. There will always be a few paperbacks that slip through the cracks, but most of the junk will be removed.
Of course, there may be those who search on other sites for paperbacks only because they want the cheapest copy available of an ordinary book. In that case all you need to do is sort your results with the least expensive first. That should give you the best choice of what you want. And you might even find a hardcover copy selling for less than all the others. Stranger things have happened.