Every 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 MakeUseOf.com 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?