If your goal is to find all used book stores or booksellers that have a walk-in store in your area you probably don’t need to read this article: simply pick up your Yellow Pages and look under “Books – used.” Walk-in only stores, because their customer base is the local community, will almost always pay for a Yellow Pages ad. But if your goal is to find those legitament small businesses that are mail-order only book stores or online only booksellers working out of your area you’ll need to know these online searching tips. (And no, using Google isn’t one of them. Google is great, but it is not the end all for online research.)
If your online only used book store is of any significant size it most likely lists on at least one of the following three online book marketplaces: Abebooks, Alibris or Biblio. All three provide the option of searching for booksellers that list with their service based on location. (Amazon, of course, is another large player in the bookselling world, but they don’t provide any easy way that I could find to search for their Amazon Marketplace booksellers by location.)
How to search Abebooks for used book stores and booksellers in your area:
From the Abebooks home page select the “Booksellers” link at the top of the page. This brings up a page that allows you to search for booksellers or book stores by name or by the beginning of their name or by using the pull down menu for country and state/province. Abebooks does not offer the option of narrowing in further by city, unfortunately, but with some quick browsing you should be able to see if there are any used book stores in your area that sell books on Abebooks.
How to search Alibris for used book stores and booksellers in your area:
From the Alibris home page select the “Find a Seller” link at the top of the page. This brings up a page that allows you to search by seller name, country, state/province, zip code, or city. With a few simple clicks you can see if there are any used book stores or booksellers in your area that sell books on Alibris.
How to search Biblio for used book stores and booksellers in your area:
From the Biblio home page select the “Bookstores” link at the top of the page. This will bring up a page that has the option to “Find an independent used bookstore near you!” by inputing your zip code. As you read further down this page, you see you can also search by country, state/province, name, and even bookseller associations.
Let’s do a test run of these searching techniques. As some book stores will list their inventory on more than one site, you should expect to see some overlap in book store and bookseller names among the three book sites.
Estimate how many used book stores and booksellers sell books online in Seattle, Washington:
At the time of this article’s publication (November 2009) Abebooks has 61 online booksellers from Seattle, Washington; Alibris has 77 Seattle booksellers and Biblio has 37. This tells us that there are at least 77 booksellers selling books online from the Seattle area. We can expect the actual number of booksellers and used book stores in Seattle to be considerably higher when we consider those smaller sellers which only sell books through Amazon and those which sell only on Abebooks or Biblio, and not Alibris.