February 6, 2009

Out of Print Books and the MIT Press Bookstore

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:08 am by mknight1130

About 10 years ago, I took a position as a book seller for the MIT Press Bookstore, http://web.mit.edu/bookstore/www/index.html. Surrounded by scholarly materials on linguistics, computers, technology, history, cognitive science, art and architecture; I was in awe of this learning environment. At this time, every December, staff members got to pick a free book as a holiday gift. My mind would churn through the titles. Many, such as High Noon and Hal’s Legacy appear on my bookshelf.

We had quite a collection of Out of Print books at the MIT Press bookstore. These books were hard to get at the average bookstore, because they were no longer being published, and it was hard to find a distributer. As a bookstore associated with the MIT Press, meant that the collection of MIT Press books was quite robust. Even still, there were some titles no longer in stock and well desired by collectors.

So, I and the other booksellers got introduced to Powell’s Books Search Results, http://www.powells.com/s?header=Advanced%20Search (Moving to Portland had not entered my mind at that point). We relished this search engine because it was flexible. It is still a great search engine today. First, the class of book can be identified: used, new, ebook, and rare, among others. Second, there is an option to enter an ISBN – a standard, unique number that distinguishes one title from another. Third, there is the option of format: paperback, electronic, audio, DVD…etc.
Also, there are additional options for publisher, section and exact title. This further narrows the search and eliminates numerous extraneous records.

The Powell’s search results displays a list of titles. Upon clicking further, the basic information (e.g. title, price, book cover). Some titles come with a synopsis including the publisher’s comments and general reviews. Towards the bottom of the record, includes all the publishing details. The user can rest assured, after using the Powell’s search engine, that a appropriate book will be found in a timely manner.

I have since left my days at the MIT Press Bookstore behind, in Cambridge MA. But, I am so glad to know about Powell’s search engine to sate my cravings as a bibliophile.


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