Biblio, more precisely, Biblio.com, was not in existence during the Regency. Yet I do feel an article about it has a place here, for a considerable portion of the books in my personal research library have made their way to me via Biblio over the last several years. It seems unfair to keep the secret to myself.
Why I like Biblio . . .
Biblio began its online existence at the turn of this century as a price comparison engine and meta-search site for books. It was developed and maintained by a couple who owned their own used book store, and saw the need for such a service for other independent book sellers. But within a couple of years, Biblio had matured into an online aggregate of many independent book sellers, all making their wares available to the world, at one site.
There are now a couple of other aggregated bookseller sites on the web, but without doubt, Biblio has the best search engine of the lot, regularly returning the most useful search results. Their advanced book search page provides a number of options by which one can filter their results in order to get to the best possible matches. Beneath the search fields section of the page can be found a set of links to pages which provide assistance on how to construct specialized searches for unique materials. In addition, Biblio provides detailed instructions in one of the posts at their blog on how to get the best out of the advanced book search.
And for what might you search at Biblio? Just about anything. The books available there range from textbooks to general reading to rare books. There is a vast range of books on many aspects of Regency and English history. You can also find copies of Regency romances by your favorite author. Perhaps the last book in a trilogy which you were never able to find in your local bookstore, or the early novels of an author you have only recently discovered. Biblio is also a good source for rare books, though their prices are commensurate with their value. If you have an extra $1,200.00 USD, you can purchase all four of Georgette Heyer’s contemporary novels, which were not very successful and were never republished. And, as many of you know, this year is the bicentennial of the publication of Jane Austen’s first book, Sense and Sensibility. If you have a spare $155,000.00 USD, you can own a copy of the first edition of that book, in three volumes. But this particular first edition of Sense and Sensibility has quite a history of its own, which probably accounts for its high price. It is still in boards, which means its original owner never had it bound, nor did any of its subsequent owners. This particular copy carries the signatures of its owner, Lady Frances Shelley, and her husband, Sir John Shelley. Lady Frances was a noted beauty and a close friend of the Duke of Wellington. By marriage, she was also related to the poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley. Another well-known owner of this particular Austen first edition was the composer, Jerome Kern. What other interesting books are to be found at Biblio? You have only to search to find out.
For those, like me, who love books, Biblio hosts an entire community for folks of like mind. This community area includes a forum where members can discuss books and/or sign up for the Biblio newsletter, as well as find a link to the Biblio blog. Customers are also encouraged to post reviews of books here to share their opinions about what they are reading. Other resources which Biblio offers include a page on how to care for books and to repair those which have been hurt. They offer an introduction to book collecting, as well as a glossary of terms for the budding book collector. Biblio is not just a place to buy books, but also to discuss them and learn more about them.
Buying books at Biblio is very convenient, as they offer a number of payment options, including most major credit cards, as well as PayPal. When paying by these methods, payment goes to Biblio, who then pays the book seller. This is particularly convenient when making purchases from book sellers outside the US, some of whom might not be able to accept some credit cards. You also have the assurance of knowing your credit card information is secure, known only to Biblio, not to a host of book sellers. However, many of the book sellers at Biblio, particularly in the US and Canada, will accept money orders in payment, for those who prefer that method.
An important advantage of purchasing books through Biblio is that they will mediate if there are any issues between their customers and book sellers. I have only had one instance when I had to resort to that service, but I was very impressed by how quickly the issue was resolved after I contacted them, and much to my satisfaction. But in most cases, the book sellers from whom I have purchased books have been very responsive and have provided prompt and efficient service. I particularly like the feature which makes it very easy to email the book seller with any questions about the book before making the purchase. Biblio also provides the option for customers to leave feedback for each purchase. Though these ratings are not displayed on the book sellers’ pages, Biblio uses the feedback information to help booksellers improve and perfect their service.
Whether you are a collector of rare books, are seeking books which are now out of print, or just need to stretch your book-buying budget, Biblio is well worth a visit. Perhaps you are trying to find a favorite book you enjoyed as a child to share with your own child this Christmas. Does the man in your life enjoy books on a certain type of car or his favorite sports team? Or, maybe a crafty friend is desperately seeking a book on embroidery stitches or advanced knitting techniques which is now out of print. Is there a gardener you know who is collecting the classics on garden design? More than likely, at Biblio you will be able to find those special books to give as uniquely personal Christmas gifts this year. The Biblio search page is ready whenever you are.