I am I suppose a bibliophile. I love books – not just reading, I like a ‘real’ book. I don’t have a Kindle because of that, (and a few other reasons that I won’t go into here), as I like the feel and often the very smell of a book. I like the fact that the battery will never run out, and if I am unlucky enough to leave it on the tube, then I can probably buy another without having to pay a large amount of money. Nor do I have to give any details to the shop from which I purchase it. I can pay cash and disappear through the bookshelves, never to be seen again, if I so desire.

Sadly, though modern books often smell of a peculiar plastic. They are often published on ‘art paper’. Sometimes they re-issue books that I have known before, with the same text, but with an artist’s rendition that is nothing like that I grew up with, or particularly like.

Sometimes too ‘they’ decide there is no longer a market for a book, and the title is no longer available and it goes Out of Print, and I cannot simply order it either from work or at home. There are also titles that have been long Out of Print. That I couldn’t, with all good consciousness expect to be In Print. Books for example about the taboos and vintana of Madagascar that were originally printed in Norway in 1960

ruud-taboo-front1I don’t think there are many people looking for that title, and yet it is one that I very much wanted to read.

So, what do we do about those books that have recently been delegated as no longer wanted by the  reading public, or that were published so long ago and are too esoteric a subject for modern publishers to think of reprinting?

You can of course go to book fairs, and search their shelves. I go to one once a month and enjoy searching the shelves and sometimes find things I have been wanting to read. At other times a trip to a fair can mean that there is a new title I’d like to read, if only I could afford it. Often though I can’t find the book I want, though sometimes there might be a small run of the series I would like, but it is the wrong edition. Or more frustratingly I can’t afford it and have to just take the opportunity to look carefully through it and know that one day, perhaps, I might be an owner of such a volume.

vialibriSo, if I know what I want, and have the title and author I will sometimes resort to using the search engine viaLibri


Without going into too much detail, the site searches bookshop data bases for the title and author along with any other specifications that you put in and often in a few moments comes back with a list of stores that have a copy. These volumes are second-hand or even antiquarian and are often rare. Each entry has details of its condition, cost and location. This last is important because of postage charges, which can severely increase the total cost of a book purchased in this fashion and also how long it will take to reach you.

Amongst other things you can specify the title, author, part title, whether you want a dust jacket, a first edition or a copy that has no ISBN assigned to it.  You also need to tick the box that designates the currency in which the price will be given.

Retailers that use the search engine include Amazon, and a company called ABE which is part of Amazon too, and depending on your views you may purchase books from them through viaLibri, or directly from the Amazon site.  Biblio are another group of booksellers advertising their stock through viaLibri and seem to be honest and their prices reasonable.

viaLibri is a very useful tool, however, it is not as much fun as searching through shelves in a book fair and suddenly coming across a book that is wanted; whether I knew I wanted it before I entered the book fair,

or not…