The web has become a wonderful resource for finding secondhand and antiquarian books.

But beware! Many of the search sites are charging a commission on each sale if the book is ordered through their site. This is why the same book from the same bookdealer can be listed at two prices - uplifted for the commission-charging sites, and base price for the other sites.

These notes are designed to help you to (a) find the book you are looking for, and (b) then buy the book at the best possible price. There are many booksearching sites, but the ones listed below are the ones we feel are the most useful.

Become book savvy! Read these notes carefully!

AddALL or BookFinder

These sites search all the other sites. Simply fill in the author and/or the title (or as much as you can remember) and see how many matches come up.

Mostly you will find the book you are looking for and you can follow the links through to the dealer who has the book. Try to get into direct contact with the bookdealer rather than through the intermediate listing site if you wish to avoid paying extra commission.

If your search on AddAll or BookFinder fails, (which means that the book is not currently on offer anywhere in the world at the time of your search) you now know that the book you are looking for is VERY hard-to-find! You can try again at a later date, or you can lodge the title(s) you are looking for with certain other sites - see below.

AddAll and Bookfinder advantages:

AddAll and Bookfinder disadvantages:

N.B. Once you have located the book you seek, ALWAYS contact the bookdealer directly (use Google if need be) if you wish to avoid paying the 13 - 15% commission that is built into many listing site prices.
Alternatively, use one of the independent sites listed below which charge no commission.

IOBA (Independent Online Booksellers Association)
PBFA (Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association)

Booklisting Site Rating: 5 star rating

These sites are run as co-operatives by the actual bookdealers and therefore charge no commission and put you in direct contact with the bookdealer.



Advanced Book Exchange

Booklisting Site Rating: 2 star rating

This site has one of the largest ranges of secondhand and antiquarian books on the web, but charges 13.5% commission and fees.

ABE advantages:

ABE disadvantages:


Booklisting Site Rating: 1 star rating

The best known of all book sites. Excellent for new books, but less so for secondhand books, where their matching system is poor. They charge 15% commission.

Amazon advantages:

Amazon disadvantages:


Booklisting Site Rating: 2 star rating

Although they get many of their books via independent bookdealers, the customer deals with Alibris, not the bookdealer. They charge 15% commission.

Alibris advantages:

Alibris disadvantages:

Other booklisting sites:


In our opinion, the two most useful sites are AddAll and BookFinder, which allow you to search all the major sites in one go. The best of the sites that do not charge commission are IOBA, and TomFolio.

And, of course, then there is our own web catalogue Barter Books!

Booklisting Site Ratings

2 star rating   ABE (Advanced Book Exchange)
2 star rating   Alibris
1 star rating   Amazon
4 star rating   Antiqbook
3 star rating   Biblio
3 star rating   Choosebooks / ZVAB
1 star rating   eBay
5 star rating   ILAB (International League of Antiquarian Booksellers
5 star rating   IOBA (Independent Online Booksellers Association)
5 star rating   PBFA (Provincial Book Fairs Association)
5 star rating   TomFolio
5 star rating   UKBookWorld


5 star rating   No commission charges and strong quality rules
4 star rating   Low commission charges and strong quality rules
3 star rating   Medium commission charges and strong quality rules
2 star rating   High commission charges and variable quality rules
1 star rating   High commission charges and weak quality rules