Monday, February 11, 2008

Book Hunting 101

Finding a book can be easy, if you have the right information in front of you.

By Alan Eggleston, bookseller
Originally published 7/08/05 on my blog under "What You Need to Find a Book".

Your search for a book can be a lot quicker if you know a few things first:

If possible, for a specific book get the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) – all bookstores use the same ISBN, which makes a book easier to find in whatever bookstore you find yourself. If you're searching online, enter the ISBN into the search field.
  1. If you don't have the ISBN, know at least the title and author.

  2. If you don’t know the ISBN, title, or author, you may be able to find the work by subject or using keywords that describe the book or parts of its content.

  3. If you don’t have a specific book in mind, you can find choices among books of the same subject or using the same keywords.

  4. If you don’t have a book in mind but you like a certain author, do a search by entering that author's name in the search field. Keep in mind that some authors are prolific writers and you may have to choose from a number of titles.

Some cautions about looking for a book:

  • A book often comes out in hardcover first. Be ready to wait awhile if you don’t want to buy the hardcover edition -- it generally takes about a year before the book comes out in paperback, if indeed it comes out in paperback at all. It can take even longer if the book is popular, like The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, which has been on the New York Times Bestseller List for a couple of years.

  • Don’t expect to find a book using a physical description. Unless you actually run into the book, descriptions seldom work.

  • Some publishers are specialists, such as Scholastic, which publishes children’s books for the educational market. Often their books are available only by special order from schools.

  • Some shoppers remember that they saw the book – such as, it was on a display at the front of the store, it had a yellow cover, and there was a picture on front. That describes far too many books in today’s crowded market.
  • All bricks and mortar bookstores employ booksellers whose job it is to help you find the books you want. However, there is a limit to how much help any bookseller can provide you if you don’t know the title, author, ISBN, subject, or keywords. If you find the right title but the store doesn't have it on-hand, most bookstores would be happy to order a copy for you. They may even call around to other bricks and mortar bookstores to see if they have it.
(c) 2005 e-Messenger Consulting Corp. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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