Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Friday, 15 August 2008

Browsing lifted to a new level

Given the high standards of literacy and articulacy commentators to this blog have shown, a post about ABE Books is probably unnecessary. But just in case…

ABE is an example of where the web has not just altered the scope of an activity, it has changed its nature. What’s more it helps a deserving and generally under-funded stratum of the retail world.

ABE is an umbrella under which shelter 13,000 second-hand-book shops (Gosh, that’s hard to hyphenate.) round the world, providing them with exposure and a reference service way beyond individual resources. And using ABE has unexpected charms.

There’s a British author called John Lodwick, killed in a car crash in the sixties, whom I read with enthusiasm. His books are long out of print but I decided to push out the ABE boat. My trawl brought in seven or eight titles. But the charm came from where the Jiffy-bags were filled. One was in Tennessee, another in Pennsylvania. Hard to see how those shops would otherwise have got my custom.

There is a tiny catch. Some of the books cost a mere 50 cents but, not surprisingly, packing and postage is several multiples of that. I for one don’t object.


marja-leena said...

I remember when Abe books started out in a garage in Victoria, BC, run by two couples. It's grown so huge now that Amazon has bought it, did you know. I hope it doesn't change. My beef is that everything is now in US$, even if you are buying from a Canadian seller, and yes, the shipping is usually way more than the book itself. I've had some wonderful finds of out-of -print books.

Barrett Bonden said...

That's sad news. I always feel guilty using Amazon (for books) since they obviously undercut bricks-and-mortar bookshops. Now, with ABE as a subsidiary, they get "the ha-penny and the toffee" as my granny used to say.