No Title? No Author? No Problem.

flashlightcolorEvery bookseller knows the feeling. A customer comes in looking for a book. They can’t remember any words from the title. They can’t recall the author’s name or much of anything about the book. They think that maybe it was in the store’s front window last fall and the cover is red, but that’s about it.

Most of us have developed some tricks by now.  Asking the right questions about character’s names, plot points or where they heard about the book can make an answer spring to mind.  Sometimes it’s as simple as remembering a bit of the jacket or realizing that the customer means The Good Thief, not Good Teeth.

Still, sometimes we have to leave our fantastic memories and venture online to find an answer.  Thankfully, Saikat Basu of has compiled a list of places you can go online to find a book title and author, even if you can hardly remember anything about the tome.  I often use Google, Google Books and Amazon to find books using character names and quotes, but Basu offers more efficient ways to use these resources than I ever came up with.  Not only that, but he offers up a ton of sites I never thought of – Worldcat, BookFinder, A9 and many others.

More often than not, your friendly neighborhood bookseller or librarian can find a book for you using their superhuman bookishness.  But if you need to step online to find a book, commit this list of sites and techniques to memory.  Hopefully, you’ll never have to go bookless again.

Oh, and I have to ask my fellow bookslingers – what’s the strangest / hardest / most obtuse book request you’ve ever had?  And did you find the book?


9 responses to “No Title? No Author? No Problem.

  1. Absolutely wonderful list of resources – thanks, Josh!

    My favorite obtuse title request story was when a customer came in and asked for “Roger’s Dinosaur Book” when what they really wanted was “Roget’s Thesaurus” — makes me laugh every time I think about it.

  2. Looking for title/author of historical (Viking?) romance of mute/blind girl with dog who gets senses back.
    It starts out with a large manor or castle of a young girl being raided; Raiders kill parents but spare young girl and maid. Raider takes young girl home and gives to his wife to raise, but the horrors of her parents’ slaying is too much for such a young child to deal with and leaves her blind and mute as a way to cope. She grows into young woman still unable to see or talk and has a huge dog as her only friend. I think she falls in love with Raider’s son but not sure. I remember the cover had a bluish tone and snowy backdrop with the young woman and her dog in the foreground.

  3. looking for a book about a schitzophrenic girl/patient that was admitted into a mental instituiton for about a year as a teenager.

    she was originally admitted for anorexia but through treatment it was found that the anorexia was jsut a cover up for her needed help with schitzophrenia…

    the girl’s middle name is jane i think…

    i think it was written by the one doctor helping her, possibly in early 2000… like 2000-2004…

    it may have been based in philadelphia pa, new jersey or new york.

  4. Alison Leffler

    I am looking for a book written in the style of Nicholas Evans (The Horse Whisperer).
    It is about a lady who is a naturalist/biologist and I think she is studying wolves but not sure. She goes up into the mountains of Montana/Wyoming area to live in a cabin. She ends up meeting the son of a rancher(I think) and he helps her. There is a black rat snake that lives in the rafters of her cabin. Her and the rancher son end up having a relationship and she has to come off the mountain because she is now pregnant. Rancher son either leaves or dies.

    It is not The Loop by Nicholas Evans.

  5. The book I’m looking for is about a twin highlander. The one brother is put to sleep for hundreds of years so he can wake in our time for the woman he loves. The woman had to go back in time to warn the man she loves that the castle he sleeps in will burn down so his twin must watch over him and move him before this happens.he does not recognize her so she locks him in the privy til he does. she then goes back to the future to this castle where he sleeps and is suppose to wake him in our time.
    thank you

  6. I’m looking for a children’s book that my mom read to me when i was little. The books main character was Pheobe, a little girl who enters a pumpkin carving contest on halloween. Her brother Sam also entered but wouldn’t show Phoebe his pumpkin until the pumpkin carving contest. Phoebe goes to the pumpkin patch to get a pumpkin and decides to carve a cat. This is all i know about the book, the front cover and back cover is missing so i only have the middle of the story.

  7. Based on a true story. A father, a widow, takes his 3 children, a boy & 2 girls, on his boat. They have problems, I can’t remember but they lose their boat. They try to walk to civilisation. The freezing weather slows them, the girls can no longer walk. the father & son leave the girls & take off for help. They get to a cabin & had to give up:feet turning black from freezing. When they are finally saved they figure so much time had passed the girls must;ve died. Finally after a few weeks they decided to go back. The daughters were still alive by sucking on snowballs for water. I think it took place either B.C. Canada or Alaska.

  8. The first book of a trilogy, fantasy maybe. About flatlanders or drylanders.. a ‘people’ who control the weather within their walls and are entertained by the dry/flatlanders who are have different skin and the ‘good’ people believe they are ‘dirty/diseased lepers’. The main character escapes the ‘good people’ in search of his mom/mom’s mission to help the leper people.

    I would like to read the other two books but I don’t know author/title. It had a cool celtic symbol (trilogy) on cover of first book.

  9. Shelia Williams

    The book has a lady holding an umbrella walking in the rain on the cover. The book is christian fiction. I don’t remember the author’s name.