For the lover of rare books, bookfinder.com is one of the most horrible things spawned by the web. Horrible in the sense that it becomes possible to find any book you ever wanted to have, and you realize that you do not have the financial means to do so.

Founded in 1996 Anirvan Chatterjee, bookfinder.com is a meta search engine of most of the major new and used bookstores - it presently searches: 1BookStreet.com; A1Books; Avanced Book Exchange; Alibris; AlphaCraze.com; Amazon.com; Antiqbook; Barnes & Noble.com; Bibliology; Biblion; BookAvenue.com; BookCloseOuts.com; Fatbrain.com; ecampus.com; ElephantBooks.com; Half.com; ILAB; Powell's Books; TextbookX; Textbook Source; TomFolio.com and Used Book Central - 40,000 booksellers and 40,000,000 titles, making it the largest book catalog anywhere.

Forty million books. Yes. All available to be shipped to your door, generally within the week. Be afraid.

Bookfinder.com is decent for finding books that have been published in the past six months - there are always a lot of copies, but there are not many bargains to be found. For titles published in the last couple years, one can usually find a copy in good condition, cheap, or poor condition, really cheap. But one could buy these books anywhere - any bookstore could order them - many of them are still in print.

What makes bookfinder.com amazing is the selection and quantity of old and genuinely rare books. Books that one previously might feel lucky to find once or twice in a lifetime can be found in seconds, and for more reasonable prices, because bookfinder.com introduces real competition. Always wanted a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible? There is one, for $95,000. Maybe a copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle? A nice copy is available for $110,000. For the person of more modest means, there are still a lot of amazing books out there. Dozens of editions of Principia Mathematica, both Isaac Newton's as well as Whitehead and Russell's work. Really obscure random scholarly works. All sorts of books, as well as magazines and other media.

Bookfinder.com is also valuable as a price guide, though one should probably pay a lot more attention to the low end of the prices - these are asking prices, and do not necessarily correspond with any reality.

It is not perfect, and the classic search display (still a choice!) provides considerably more information than the new version. There are often problems accessing some of the other engines, at times, as many as half of them. For the most part, however, it works reasonably well.

Some say that search engines like this will cause the death of the neighborhood used bookstore. This is unlikely. Many used bookstores are doing much better with books for which there is a limited audience, because they can reach a much broader audience and find that 1 person in a million who desperately wants the title.

My bookfinder.com related purchases have been relatively limited - mostly titles that would be very difficult to find anywhere else. Some of them include:

So, in short, do not look at bookfinder.com. It will quickly steal all of you money and replace it with the books you have always desired.

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