Books older than 1980

Sean Barry sjbarry at UCDAVIS.EDU
Sat Apr 19 00:05:21 CDT 2003

> On Sat, 19 Apr 2003, Vr.R.E.M.J..-B. BEJSAK-COLLOREDO-MANSFELD wrote:
> dear colleagues,
>  is there any chance to look for old/older antiquarian books? I would
> like to check references etc...

The best online source in my experience is Bookfinder:

which queries the inventories of hundreds of used/rare book dealers
worldwide, simultaneously.  By one hour after I discovered this resource I
had found several _dozen_ long out of print books that had defied three
decades of my best efforts and mountains of persistence.  Best of all you
can often pick and choose among widely diverging prices from several
dealers for the same title.  Also, some rare, expensive titles are not so
rare or expensive if you're willing to trade overseas--some of my best
bargains have been from used book dealers in South Africa, Australia, and
Britain, all found through Bookfinder.  ABE ( is
also a good source, but Bookfinder queries ABE along with most of the
other umbrella sources (Alibris, etc).  However, you can register your
"wants" indefinitely for free with ABE and they'll notify you by e-mail
the minute a member bookseller posts a match to one of your wants.  I've
maintained an ever-shrinking want-list with ABE for years (I still can't
seem to find Bagnara's "Chromatophores and Color Change," but that's about
all). "Patience and persistence" used to be the name of the game in the
pursuit of rare books, but the Web has made the game much simpler.  For
very rare high-end titles (such as first editions of "The Origin of
Species," which can command over US$30,000) you'll have to go to auctions
(Sotheby's, not ebay), and persistence still pays dividends for really
rare titles.  I admit that none of this is as much fun as finding a
long-sought title in a back-alley bookstore in some obscure town, but
those stores were becoming rare themselves long before there was an

Sean Barry

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