Why do people collect rare books

Find antiquarian, out-of-print and rare books on the Internet

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It is a small sporting challenge to find such books on the Internet and to be the first to catch them. Maybe I can give one or the other a little help with this workshop on how to proceed.

I have been using these methods for a number of years and have proven to be very effective.

All those who have already gained experience in this direction and have achieved success with their own strategies are sure to come across approaches in this article that are already known. Perhaps I can still give a few tips to one or the other “book hunter”. 😉

But there are also people who are just getting used to the Internet as a medium and are now gaining their first experiences. This article is primarily aimed at this group.

General research

Let's take a look at the starting position first. A book is being sought that is not in stock on the well-known large book platforms on the Internet and also at my bookseller around the corner and cannot be ordered. In this case it becomes an out of print book and it is advisable to develop a little initiative in order to still get to the out of print work.

The publisher, whose address or telephone number I have already researched on the Internet, that published the book, is now known and has already been contacted by phone or email. Unfortunately, he informed me that the book has been out of print for a long time and that no new edition is planned in the future.

So far so good. Now we already know that the publisher cannot help us any further. But now we still want to hold the book in our hands one day because it has been warmly recommended to us by other readers in various reviews or because it brings back childhood memories or would look good on our own bookshelf. There are certainly more reasons to get a good book, I don't want to set any limits to my imagination.

How do I get this rare, out of print, antiquarian book? Quite simply, I have to search for it effectively and use all means at my disposal.

No price without diligence ... this old rule also applies to the search for books that are out of print. You have to have a lot of patience, depending on how out of print the book is and you need a bit of luck to be the first to buy the book, because you don't look for such rarities alone. 🙂

The possibility of searching for the book at flea markets or special used book events in the real world should not go unmentioned here, even if the chances of success are rather slim that this particular dealer will have my book on offer and sell me at an acceptable price .

Research on the Internet

We are concerned here with searching the Internet. In my experience, the following 5 book platforms or meta search engines are particularly suitable for this. It is currently the so-called [[Global Player]] in the trade with used books on the Internet.

I will briefly introduce each platform and show ways to effectively search for my out of print book on these platforms.


This dealer probably currently has the largest range of used books and also has many other items on offer.

A search for a book is best saved as a bookmark in the browser. It is certainly advisable to call up this bookmark at least 3-4 times a day to see whether a book I was looking for has been posted.

After the Amazon page has been opened, you simply enter the title and the author of the book in the upper part and after a few letters you usually get some search suggestions and only need to select the book.

After selecting the title, Amazon searches for the book in its database. The result of the search can now be saved as a bookmark using the corresponding link that is displayed in the upper window of the browser. It is advisable to change the description of the bookmark according to your own ideas.

If English-language titles appear in the search results, which can happen if the title of the German edition is the same as the English title, simply select the appropriate category and then save the bookmark with its special filter. An actual search for the book's [[ISBN]], if known, is of course possible and in individual cases, e.g. if too many search results are displayed, even advisable.

The best way to search for out of print books on Amazon is to create your own bookmark folder in your browser and enter the books you want to search there.

Another possibility is to put the book you are looking for in the folder that contains important bookmarks that are needed every time you visit the Internet and that are opened in several tabs at the same time.

This has the advantage that the search for the book that is out of print will not be forgotten and the bookmarks you are looking for are always at hand.

Most booksellers romp about on Amazon, whether they are private sellers or professionals, and many of these providers do not have the time or do not take the time to look whether their lists, which sometimes contain 100 or several thousand books, have one or the other Bargain is hidden.

This is the procedure at Amazon. With all other 4 global players, we can make the search more convenient with the help of search requests that we now want to set up.


With search orders, I give the respective platform the order to search for a specific book for me and, if the search is successful, to inform me via email. How does that work with an example at Booklooker?

Booklooker is a book platform that currently has over 20 million (as of 2011) used books in its database and has been one of the big names on the scene for some time.

After successful registration, which is also necessary on Amazon, ebay and the ZVAB in order to buy books at all, I log into Booklooker and click on the Search Requests tab in the navigation bar on the far left.

Now I create a new search order by clicking on Set up new search order.

The following page opens in which I can now enter a new search request. Before I do that, I click, if necessary, below the save button on Add search criteria. The selection of various parameters increases as a result and it is possible for me to search more specifically for the out of print copy.

The following input mask should now be in the approximate center of your screen.

Now enter the data that are available to you and that appear important. The following information is usually sufficient:

  • Author (the last name is completely sufficient)
  • Title (please pay attention to the correct spelling)
  • Max. Price (the price I would like to spend max. On the book)

The whole thing should now look like this before you click save.

The price is a decisive factor here. If you set the price too low, you will not receive any notifications in the form of emails, as none of the providers is willing to give away the book for an apple and an egg. This occurs especially with classic out of print copies, i.e. with copies that have been out of stock for a long time and for which this is well known.

How to find out the best price in order to buy a book as cheaply as possible, I have described in detail in the article Watching books or other articles via ebay for a long time.

If in doubt, just leave the price field blank. You will then receive e-mails with all the prices set.

After clicking on save what you shouldn't forget, you have the option of creating another search request or viewing the search requests that have already been saved.

That was all. Not that difficult, is it?

Assuming a successful search, you will now receive the offers directly to the email address you specified when you registered.

Now you should also set up your search requests on the 3 remaining book platforms in order to increase the chances of success so that you can soon hold the longed-for book in your hands.


The central directory of antiquarian books has a book inventory of more than 28 million antiquarian or out of print books. Mainly the books of the 4,000 affiliated second-hand bookshops around the world are available there.

Unfortunately, I have had the experience several times in the past that a copy that I wanted to order was no longer available from the respective seller. I assume that the individual lists of the second-hand bookshops are not updated by some sellers as often as they might be desirable. If, for example, a book is sold via another second-hand bookshop or book platform or in one's own shop, it should also be removed from any remaining offer lists such as ZVAB.

Since we are less interested in this, because we are looking for newly placed books via search request, I would only like to have mentioned the topic in passing.

So, the procedure at the ZVAB is similar to that at Booklooker. After we have registered, we come to the following picture by clicking on My Account and can log in with our data.

The search order is called search agent here. We click on this now.

Now we can create a new search request by clicking on Add new entry for search agents.

The following input mask is actually self-explanatory. Here, too, it is sufficient to enter the author, the title and the maximum price, equivalent to the input instructions on Booklooker. A description of your search request, which can consist of the title of the book, for example, is essential, otherwise the search request will not be saved. It is also used to provide a better overview in your created search requests.

Above all, it is important to click the OK button so that your settings are also saved.

Finished. Now it is time to wait and drink tea. The search request is processed by the ZVAB and displayed to the affiliated second-hand bookshops. They will contact you directly and submit the offers to you.

I would like to give you the following advice on this. Running a second-hand bookshop is of course not a pastime or a hobby of the respective seller. It is a company that should break even. Therefore, you will also get some offers with, let me say carefully, “inflated” price expectations. But after reading my article about price monitoring on ebay, you should now have determined the approximate market price yourself.

Never pay more than the book is really worth to you and calmly try to suggest a different, lower price to the antiquarian. An antiquarian is also just a person who likes to trade a bit and actually still has a bit of "air" in his pricing. 😉


Now to the next candidate for whom we would like to place searches. There is also excellent software for ebay that makes it much easier to observe the world's largest online marketplace with the help of an ingenious background search. I will present this software to you in one of my next workshops.

This is primarily about setting up a search request. So we registered and logged in on ebay. Under the My ebay overview, in the navigation bar on the left, we see a tab with the name Manage Saved Searches. If you want to set up a search request for the first time, the number 0 should be there. On ebay it is currently possible to create a maximum of 100 search queries.

You should now see the following image section on the right-hand side. Click on Add New Search.

Various parameters are specified according to your own wishes and ideas and after clicking on Find you will receive the results, if available.

You now have the option of saving your search request by clicking on Save this search.

Choose a descriptive name for your search request or leave the default one. Check the box and set the notification period to 12 months. Then don't forget to save.

You can change or delete any search request at any time.


We did it right away. There is only one platform left that we should now take care of.


The metasearch engine Eurobuch searches a large part of the antiquarian bookshops and book platforms represented on the Internet with a book inventory of more than 210 million copies and deserves special attention in our search for out-of-print books.

Although Eurobuch also searches the inventory of Amazon, Booklooker and ebay, it is advisable to set up your own search orders or bookmarks for the respective platforms, as the individual databases are not updated and the search order emails are not sent at the same time.

In plain language, if I receive an email from Eurobuch, in which it is reported that my search order, e.g. on Booklooker or ebay, was successful, the book may have been on sale from the respective provider for 1-3 days. The chance of catching a book after such a long wait is pretty slim.

If I have placed a search request with each of the 4 global players (the exception is the bookmark on Amazon), then I am usually informed of this result by email the next day or with some providers even after a few hours and can strike before it another does.

So we want to set up a search order here too. We have registered with Eurobuch, are logged in and are now looking for our book in the search mask as normal.

I always make sure that the tab is not set to any auctions, otherwise Eurobuch also searches the current auctions on ebay. We cannot acquire these offers immediately, as the auctions only end after a certain time, so we are primarily not interested in them.

After clicking on search, the results are neatly presented on the screen. For the sake of clarity, we click on the Price tab to sort by ascending price.

If no books are found, it may actually be a very out of print book, as even antiquarian or rare books can be found on the internet somewhere in the corners of the internet, albeit at a significantly increased price.

Found nothing or everything too expensive? OK, let's set up a search request and be patient.

Click the Save Search tab on your screen.

The search request has now been saved. Before we take any further steps, first click on extend as shown in the picture below. This extends the duration of the search request by a maximum of 6 months. You can also delete it at any time. To edit it and enter a maximum price, click on edit.

If necessary, enter a maximum price and a comment on the search order and make sure that the checkmark in the middle (provider) on ebay is removed.

Now click on save and you will be informed daily via e-mail about newly posted books from the affiliated providers.


Another possibility to get cheap and out of print books I don't want to hide here, even if this is probably not feasible for the majority of the readers of this workshop. You simply get a job with the 5 major providers of books or meta search engines. So direct access to the database should be possible even before the e-mails informing customers of successful searches leave for their journey.


These instructions only serve to illustrate the effective search for antiquarian or out-of-print books on the Internet using a few examples. It makes no claim to completeness or direct success in the implementation of the measures mentioned here.

It is intended to provide them with assistance and starting points on how to find their out-of-print books more easily on the Internet.

It is certainly not possible to find out-of-print, antiquarian books overnight, but at some point within a month or a year or if you are perhaps no longer paying any attention to the search requests, an e-mail comes in fluttering with an offer from searched book.

So far I have found every book on the Internet that I have looked for the clues in this workshop.

With this in mind, I wish you every success in your hunt for antiquarian, rare and out-of-print books and always remember that you are not looking for such treasures alone.

First come first served ... 🙂

Have you been looking for a book yourself for some time and haven't had any success? You can enter a search request in this area. I will research for you free of charge and without obligation.

I would also like to take this opportunity to invite you to the new advertising market for antiquarian, out-of-print and rare books, which has been open to you since the beginning of February 2010.