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How to use viaLibri search functions:

General:

You may use viaLibri to search for old and rare books offered on eighteen different web sites which aggregate the inventory of over 20,000 antiquarian booksellers world-wide. Enter at least one author, title, imprint OR subject. When multiple terms are specified within a single field, or across multiple fields, only books that match ALL the specified critieria will be returned.


The viaLibri search process works in two steps. The primary step occurs at the level of the individual listing sites and duplicates the returns that would be obtained by searching on each site directly. However, some search criteria cannot be handled directly on some or all of the listing sites. For these, a secondary filtering of results is conducted on our own site. The final list of matched books will reflect the results after both steps have been applied.


It should be borne in mind that there is a fixed limit to the number of books that can be matched at one time from any of the listing sites. This limit will often be exceeded when searching with keywords or for works by popular authors. When this happens viaLibri provides an option to continue searching until all available matches have been returned. A button marked "Continue This Search" will be displayed if there are more items to find. Clicking on it will produce a new set of matches. This process may be repeated until all possible matches have been returned.



Phrases

You may use viaLibri to match phrases as well as individual words. A phrase is specified by placing the phrase terms within double quotes (" ").


For example:

    Keyword:    "King Arthur"

will return all books which include the phrase "King Arthur" in their title, imprint or book description, but will not include books where the words only appear separately.

Phrases are only recognized when entered into the keyword field, but will be searched for in title, imprint and description fields. If you want to restrict your results to books where the phrase only appears in the title or imprint you must enter the terms without quotation marks in the field you want searched and also enter them with quotation marks in the keyword field.



Exclusions

The viaLibri search function also includes the option of filtering from final results all matches that include specified exclusion terms. An exclusion is specified by placing the term to be excluded within square brackets.


For example:

    Title:   Mockingbird [Kill]

will return all books which include "Mockingbird" in the title except those that also include the word "Kill".

Exclusion terms may be used in the Author, Title, Imprint or Keyword fields. An exclusion term may be the only term used within a particular field, as long as at least one "inclusion" term is used in one of the first four fields. When multiple exclusion terms are used a matched book will be excluded from the results if any one of the exclusion terms is found. The exclusion process usually takes place as part of the secondary filtering process. Thus, in the above example, 100 matches for books with "Mockingbird" in the title might be returned from the primary search, but the final results could easily present less than half that number.

It is also possible to exclude a phrase. For example: [book club] or [print on demand] will exclude listings which match these phrases, but not other listings which only include the separate words. When excluding phrases quotation marks should not be used.

Permanent Filters

Registered users are also able to set up general exclusion terms and phrases which will automatically be applied to all searches. To set up a general exclusion you need to follow these steps:

   1 - Login to your account. (If you do not already have an account you must register first).
   2 - Click the "More" tab at the top of any page, and then click "Your Account Details".
   3 - Enter any exclusion terms in the field marked "Keyword Filters:".
   4 - Click the button labeled "Click To Update Your Account Information".

Exclusion terms must always be entered in paired brackets using the syntax described above. All records which include any bracketed keyword or phrase as part of their title or description will be filtered from all displayed results, including those searched for using the Wants Manager. Multiple filters are allowed, although an excessive number may impair search performance. To use this feature your browser must accept cookies.

PLEASE NOTE: Great care should be taken when setting up exclusion filters to make certain that wanted books are not also filtered out in the process. ALL items with text that includes the specified character string will be excluded. For example: using [POD] will filter out items with descriptions or titles that include terms such as "podium", "antipode" etc. This feature is most accurate when used with phrases that are regularly found as standard descriptions for types of items that are not wanted, but will not be found with other types of books.



Wants Manager

The viaLibri Wants Manager feature allows users to store specific search criteria on our site and then repeat the searches whenever they return. The Wants Manager remembers all the matches that have been made in the past and can execute a new search that will return only items that have been uploaded to the internet since the last search was performed.


Registration is now required if you want the Wants Manager to remember your wants. After registering, you should click the checkbox marked "Remember me on this computer" at least once when logging in with your login name and password. After that viaLibri will remember you each time you return and will retrieve your want list automatically. If you return and find that your saved searches are NOT being displayed, then logging in again should retrieve them. Earlier saved searches can also be preserved if registration takes place after the records were created. Any searches which are displayed at the time of registration will be associated with that login and will be available when using it during subsequest sessions.


After your wants have been saved in the Wants Manager Libribot will continue to search for them and notify you when newly listed items are found which match your criteria. More details on Libribot will be found HERE.

The Wants Manager provides a form for creating a new permanent want. The form is similar to the open search form displayed on the viaLibri home page. When a search has been made using this form the search criteria will automatically be saved for later use.


Saved search criteria appear on the Wants Manager page within a chart that is displayed below the search form. The chart includes separate columns for all the search criteria that have been recorded. Each listing is accompanied by 3 buttons marked "Libribot Matches", "New Matches", and "All Matches". Clicking on the first button will retrieve a list of all items matching that want that have been previously found by Libribot. This may includes items which are no longer available. The second button will execute a search for currently available items that have been posted to the internet since the last time a search was performed. (This function is currently enabled only for the following sites: ABAA, AbeBooks, antikvariat.net, antiquariat.de, booklooker.de, Bibliophile Bookbase, Bibliopoly, Booksatpbfa, Find-a-book, MareMagnum, UKBookworld, Uniliber and ZVAB. Other sites will be added when technically possible.) The third button will execute a search that will find all items from the sites listed above which match the displayed criteria. Another row marked "Last Search" shows the date and time for the most recent search performed using those criteria. The final column displays the date and time of the last search for this want along with a button to click if you want to edit or delete the want record.


The rows of wants displayed by the Wants Manager chart may be sorted by Author, Title, Keyword and Last Search. Clicking on the column heading will sort the chart by the values shown in that column. Clicking again will reverse the order. The default order is by "Last Search" with the oldest search date shown at the top.


Search Criteria

Author Search

Author searches are executed exactly as they would be on the individual listing sites.



Title Search

Title searches are executed exactly as they would be on the individual listing sites.



Imprint Search

Imprint data generally include the publisher or printer and the place of publication. Not all listing sites include this as a separate category of information. For sites which do maintain separate Imprint (or "Publisher") fields our search will be executed as it would be on the source site. For the listing sites which do not provide separate imprint data we try, instead, to find this information at the beginning of the description field where it is usually found. In these cases some imprint information may not be found, and occasional false matches are possible.



Keyword Searches

Keyword searches are generally executed exactly as they would be on the individual listing sites. There is, however, some variation in the way this is done on different listing sites. In most cases, keyword searches will match author, title and description fields. In the case of sites which offer more than one way to search for keywords, viaLibri will use the method that is likely to produce the largest number of results. Keywords are usually the most useful method to use for searching randomly for early or rare books on a given subject. However, common keywords which match a very large number of book records may have limited usefulness. These can also sometimes be slow. Some of the sorting and filtering criteria described below can be useful in separating the wheat from the chaff, but for the most part they will not increase the speed at which results can be returned.



Sorting

viaLibri can sort its search results, ascending or descending, by any of the following criteria: Year of publication; Price; Author; Title; Bookseller. The default sort - by publication year beginning with the earliest - is likely to be the most useful for book collectors. After they are first compiled, the results may also be re-sorted by any of these criteria. The publication year used for sorting is not specified as such in the book records retrieved from the various listing sites. Instead, the year that is used is one that we are able to extract from these records by parsing the descriptive text included with them. The results obtained in his way are almost always accurate, but occasional misdating is inevitable. Further details below.



Printed After... Before...

A specific range of publication dates (after, before, or both) may be specified as part of search criteria. Although several of the listing sites include their own features for specifying date ranges, our experiments have shown that for most of them a substantial number of books will often be excluded from results whenever any type of date filter is applied. For this reason we perform filtering by publication year as part of the secondary search executed on our own server and use a publication date assigned to the book on the basis of our own data extraction techniques.


The best way to limit your search to items published during one year only, is to enter the same date in both date fields and in the keyword field.



Price Above... Below...

This feature can be used to set a minimum and maximum price for the books that will be matched. The criteria are applied to the search as executed on the individual listing sites. Even if you are interested in looking for books from all price ranges, it is sometimes useful to set a minimum price threshold when using search terms that are likely to return large numbers of results. This will help prevent better books from being crowded out by cheap and common ones when sorting by criteria other than price.


You can also select your preferred currency from a choice of 7 major currencies. This will be used when setting your price limits, and will also be used for the prices displayed with your search results. The prices shown will be calculated on the basis of published conversion rates updated daily. These prices are given for information purposes only. The actual prices are the ones shown on the listing sites themselves. Because books can be listed in various currencies on different sites, some prices may undergo multiple conversions before being displayed as part of our results. When different prices are shown for multiple listings of the same book it may be a result of conversion discrepencies and not an actual difference in price. You should always check all the prices on the different listing sites before ordering.



First editions

Checking this box will restrict your results to books identified by their listing sites as first editions. The reliablity of these results is variable, both for what is included and for what is not. It can be useful, however, as a blunt tool for eliminating many irrelevant results for items which are common in their later editions.


In many cases a more reliable method for isolating first editions from reprints is to have the sort function set to "Year" "Ascending". This should display the results with all printings from the year of publication shown first. The two features can, of course, be used in combination, making it even easier to quickly separate first editions from later printings.



Signed copies

Checking this box will restrict your results to books identified by their listing sites as signed or inscribed. The reliablity of these results is often questionable, both for what is included and for what is not.



Dust Jacket

Checking this box will restrict your results to books identified as having dust jackets. The reliablity of these results is often questionable, both for what is included and for what is not.



Filter: Strict/Loose

The "Strict/Loose" filter setting determines how viaLibri will handle search criteria which are not supported by an individual book site. Many of the sites we search do not enable searching by first editions, signed copies and/or dust jackets. When one or more of these criteria is checked and the filter is set to "Strict" then no results will be returned from the sites which do not recognize those criteria. If the filter is set to "Loose", then the searches on these sites will be performed as though no boxes had been checked.



Wait: 20 (30, 40, 60, 90) sec.

Although most of the sites we search regularly return results in less than 10 seconds, not all of the sites will respond this quickly to all searches. Delays of over a minute do occasionally occur. An overloaded server on one site will delay the display of results for all the others. The setting on this parameter determines the maximum amount of time viaLibri will wait before abandoning a search on any slow site.



Rare Books or Bargains

Use this feature to specify whether your primary interest is rare books or inexpensive copies of common books. Your choice here will only affect the results you receive if more matching books are found than can be shown in the first set of results. This is likely to happen when searching for works by popular authors, or when searching with any but the most obscure keywords. A search which specifies "Rare Books" will take its first set of results from the most expensive items matching those criteria. A search for "Bargains" will take its first set of results from the least expensive matches. After examining the first set of results you can still continue searching until all the possible matches have been shown. The only difference will be the order in which they are presented. (A few listing sites do not allow this distinction and their results will be unaffected by the choice made here).

On Using viaLibri

The viaLibri search engine has been optimized as a finding tool for old and rare books rather than as a comparison shopping guide. When given the author and title of a common book it can, of course, easily locate all the available copies on the sites it includes. This is a relatively simple task. But its most useful features are those created to help a collector or researcher locate books that meet a more topical interest, where a pre-determined title may not be the natural point of departure. Keywords are generally the most useful approach when searching for subjects or other interests unrelated to a specific author. Frustration comes, however, when interesting results are lost in a flood of irrelevant matches. We have designed viaLibri to help alleviate that frustration. The tools we provide should help to filter out much of that irrelevant noise.

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