We are finally ready to launch our newly redesigned website. It’s time to celebrate at last.
We hope you will like our new look and feel, but appearance is probably among the least important changes we have made. Alasdair has added many useful and unique features that I’m sure will make your book hunting both easier and more productive. Among them we hope you will be pleased to discover the following:
- Our site is now mobile friendly and easy to navigate across the full range of devices from smart phones to desktops.
- We have added a sidebar to the left-hand column of the search results page that lets you examine and filter the data received in your search results. This provides a distribution breakdown for location; sources; first editions; signed, and dust jacketed copies; PODs; ISBNs and illustrated items. Use these to create refined and targeted results when initial results are too numerous to read to the end.
- Searches can be limited to books shipped from specific countries only. Multiple countries can be selected, but if only a limited number of satisfactory results are returned from your home country you can try looking elsewhere guided by the totals shown in the sidebar .
- Our popular library search tool has been updated to allow users to mark their most frequently used catalogues and automatically group them at the top of the list.
- Browsers can limit their searches to illustrated items only.
- Timed online book auctions are now also being included in searches. At present this is limited to eBay and Catawiki, but we expect to be adding other auctions in the future. Libribot will start searching those auctions soon.
- We can now block from all your search results any booksellers you may wish to exclude. Clicking on the round “stop” symbol next to the dealer’s name is all you need to do. We are also often able to recognise when one bookseller is listing the same books using different names. In that case we will consolidate the multiple listings under a single name, and if you choose to exclude one of those sellers then we will exclude them all.
- On our home page we now have a simple search form (author, title, keyword) as well as our usual advanced form that includes over 20+ filtering options.
- We now have a flexible selection tool that simplifies several bulk operations including Libribot and clipboard management, special list creation, social media sharing, search result pruning and social media sharing.
This is only a partial list of the new features and improvements that are being introduced today. If you want to explore even further how to make the most of viaLibri we suggest that you try reading the lengthy search help pages that have also been updated to accompany our redesign. You will find them here:
And more exciting things are on the way. In the future we plan to continue adding new features as they are developed rather than waiting to group them together in a single major update, as we are doing today. Going forward, we plan to always have some new feature or upgrade in the works. The “beta” badge you see next to our logo reflects that. We will probably remove the badge before too long, but the condition it refers to should be perpetual. And for the substance of that future content we hope that the valuable suggestions and feedback we have always received from our users in the past will also be perpetual. The newly redesigned website you see today has come from there.
For at least a couple of years now we have been hard at work building a new and improved version of viaLibri. That task is now nearly done.
A section of the home page can be seen above. All that remains is a bit more “beta testing” as we track down any elusive bugs and gather still more helpful feedback from our valued customers, colleagues and friends.
So, if you are at all curious to see what the new incarnation of viaLibri looks like then please visit our beta site and have a look for yourself.
Finishing touches are still being worked on, so please forgive any faults you discover. If you do notice anything buggy we hope you will alert us to it.
You will find a contact link among the other features now gathered at the bottom of each page.
Likewise, if you find that there are new features whose behaviour you believe could be improved then we will be happy to hear from you about them. There may not be time enough to include them in the current release, but the next to-do list list has already been started.
You don’t need to do anything special when you arrive, but if you want to try out all our new features we recommend that you start by logging in to your existing account. Your clipboard, Libribot matches, want lists, and other personalised data and settings will still be available as they are now. For the immediate future you will be free to switch back and forth between the old and the new. Nothing will be lost. But once you have become comfortable with our changes we hope you won’t want to stay in the past any longer than necessary. But don’t worry. The final transition will be finished very soon.
The most interesting phenomenon of the last month or so, at least from a bibliophilic perspective, has been the arrival of a new way to buy and sell books online: virtual book fairs. The idea followed in the wake of the cancellation of multiple traditional physical book fairs as a result of the coronavirus. By my count there have already been at least seven virtual fairs, beginning with a digital version of the Paris Book Fair opening on April 23 and followed by fairs organised by IOBA, PBFA, Marvin Getman, ABAA, ABA (“Firsts”) and, most recently, the Rose City Virtual Book Fair.
For those who did not join in, the fairs were basically of two types. The first group consisted primarily of a listing of “exhibitors” with links to PDF catalogues available for browsing. This replicated the fair lists that are now regularly sent out by many of the dealers as a preview of what they will be offering in their booth at a traditional physical fair. For many dealers the sales generated by these lists often exceed what they receive at the actual event. In this way the virtual fairs were able to do much to compensate revenue lost when planned-for fairs did not take place.
The second group consisted of books that were aggregated into a joint data base where each exhibitor was able to include a fixed number of items (12 to 50) that could be searched, sorted and filtered in a variety of ways. This is not too distant from the group search engines that we are already familiar with, except that here the individual dealers are given much more prominence and are better able to present themselves to potential buyers than in the search engine venues that people are already familiar with. Buyers were also encouraged to believe that the books that were on offer were all new to the market. Those who took the time to double-check this on Google, or even viaLibri, often discovered that this was not always the case, but it was for sure that at most of the fairs the sellers made an effort to put some of their best or most unusual items onto their virtual stands.
Most of the data-driven fairs were also interesting because they left the sold items on display, still priced, but flagged to let you know that someone else beat you to it. Unlike traditional fairs, I doubt if there were any books that passed through 2 or 3 virtual stands before the doors first opened to the public. And given the number of sold stickers I saw at some fairs it is clear that, at those fairs at least, there were many sales taking place. I will admit that I had limited expectations regarding attendance, and the organisers apparently did too. The ABAA and Firsts fairs were overwhelmed by visitors at their openings, which resulted in both sites being virtually frozen for at least twenty minutes, if not more. Whether those visitors waited, came back later, or just gave up, I don’t know. But I think the prospects for future online book fairs are very good. Several of the sponsors of the recent fairs have announced that they plan to have monthly fairs in the future.
I am very interested in hearing the comments from other buyers and sellers who participated in any of the VBFs that have just taken place.
Did they find them a good way to buy or sell?
Will they show up at future fairs?
Will the old-fashioned book fairs return to their same prominence after the call for social distancing has been revoked?
The sad but generally expected cancellation of the ILAB Congress in Amsterdam was announced yesterday, along with similar news for the book fair that would have accompanied it. That news was followed today by cancellation of the September York fair, Europe’s largest.
The status of other future book fairs, or at least those scheduled for sometime in 2020, is now an open question.
The most notable response, so far, has been a quick scheduling of the alternative online events now generally referred to as “virtual” book fairs. At least a couple of these have already taken place and another 3 that we know of are planned for the next three weeks.
Everyone is hopeful that these virtual fairs will find enough real buyers to help sustain booksellers and collectors until they are ready to emerge from lock down. If you are interested in doing a bit of virtual book hunting we list below 3 events already on out calendar. If there are others you know of please let me know.