Chronology of Used Book Portals on the Internet
I present below a comprehensive list of the many used-book websites that have come and gone since the early days of the internet. That's right, some of these are gone. In other words, there are some dead websites on this list.
Anyway, this list focuses on portals: websites where many used-book dealers list their books in one big database, and where members of the general public can search for and purchase them.
As one who has been selling books on the internet since 1997, I find myself continuously marvelling at how fast these websites spring up, change, grow or die, and all too often get taken over by major corporations that shut them down or transform them from friendly places into venues that I would not even recommend to someone I don't like.
Each portal is listed in chronological order under the year they were launched, revamped, or closed. Under each year the sites are listed alphabetically.
Please note: The earliest multi-dealer used-book portals listed below were not websites as such, since the used-book business on the world wide web (the commercial part of the internet) did not really take off until about 1994.
Also please note: This is an ongoing collection. A few portals are missing from this list. If I do not have the year in which a portal was launched, revamped, or folded, it is not listed here. Further information will be gratefully accepted and added to this page, so please email me if you have it.
See the bottom for definitions.
ADI (Antiquarian Databases International, bulletin-board-based service, launched, folded soon after)
booknet (fax-based service, launched and folded)
muze (launched, description-generating software)
bookbytes (bulletin-board-based service, based in US, launched, folded soon after)
bookquest (bought out and shut down by interloc)
interloc (launched, pre-web dealer-to-dealer service only, based in US) Interloc, from interlocutor (middleman) was the first major successful portal. It is now called Alibris.
gemm.com (Global E-commerce Mega Marketplace, launched) Gemm began as a charming portal for sellers of used and collectible LPs, CDs, 45s; now it has no charm and sells everything.
virtualbookshop.com (launched, folded by 2002)
abebooks (Advanced Book Exchange, based in Canada, launched)
antiqbook.com (based in Netherlands, launched)
bibliocity.com (based in Australia, launched)
bibliofind.com (based in US, launched) Bibliofind was the best engineered site. Its all-word search was an invaluable tool for research and selling.
bookmatch.com (launched and folded)
collectorz.com (description-generating software, launched)
interloc.com (launched their first truly web-based service)
maremagnum.com (based in Italy, launched)
virtualbooks.com (launched, folded by 2002)
zvab.com (Zentrales Verzeichnis Antiquarischer Buecher, Central Catalog of Antiquarian Books, based in Germany, launched)
In 1997, Abebooks and Bibliofind vied for supremacy as the top two used-book portals on the internet; Interloc was a close third.
booklovers.co.uk (based in UK, launched)
buy.com (launched, selling everything including books)
half.com (launched, selling everything including books)
mxbf.com (based in US, first meta-search of used bookstore portals, launched, name soon changed to bookfinder)
addall.com (launched, meta-search of used bookstore portals)
antikvariat.net (launched, based in Scandinavia)
bookfinder.com (formerly mxbf, revamped with new name)
bn.com (Barnes and Noble website launched, new books only, with a used-book search engine that searched only abe)
half.com (bought out by ebay, but continued to operate separately)
popula.com (auction portal, similar to ebay but independent and fairly run)
rarebooknet.com (launched, folded by 2002)
x.com (payment transfer service, soon to be revamped as paypal)
abaa.org (Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America, website launched)
backissuefinder.com (used periodicals only, launched)
bibliocity.com (bought out and shut down by alibris)
bibliofind.com (bought out by exchange)
bibliophile.net (based in Switzerland, launched)
biblioworld.com (revamped as 21northmain)
bookavenue.com (based in US, launched)
bookgraveyard.com (based in US, launched)
bookradar.com (meta-search of used bookstore portals, launched)
digibib (Digital Bibliophile Community, based in US, launched, folded soon after)
exchange.com (bought out and shut down by amazon)
gbmbooks.com (Global Book Mart, based in US, launched)
iberlibro.com (based in Spain, launched)
justbooks.de (based in Germany, launched)
paypal.com (formerly x, revamped with new name)
21northmain.com (revamped, formerly biblioworld)
Amazon Marketplace (seller platform for isbn books, launched)
Amazon zShops (seller platform for pre-isbn and antiquarian books, launched)
bibliofind.com (bought out and shut down by amazon)
bibliopoly.com (based in UK, launched)
biblioz.com (based in Australia, launched)
ephemeranet.com (based in US, launched)
eurobuch.com (meta-search of used bookstore portals, based in Austria, launched)
half.com (merged into ebay)
ibooknet.co.uk (based in UK, cooperatively owned, launched)
muze.com (now being used by half and ebay to generate product descriptions)
tomfolio.com (based in US, cooperatively owned, launched)
wantedbooks.com (revamped, formerly bookquarters)
abebooks.com (bought out by justbooks, but kept the name)
bibliology.com (based in UK, launched)
booksandcollectibles.com.au (based in Australia, launched)
borders.com (revamped, made into a redirect to amazon)
classicforum.com (formerly clik-books.com, bought out and shut down by alibris)
gbmbooks.com (folded but was revived in 2002)
ioba.org (Independent Online Booksellers Association, booksearch launched, linked to abe)
searchbiblio.com (launched, meta-search of used bookstore portals, now a redirect to biblio)
titlesdirect.com (launched, soon revamped as myownbookshop)
Amazon Seller Central (selling platform launched for large retailers, launched)
bibliodirect.com (announced, possibly never launched)
bookgraveyard.com (revamped as bookquarters)
bookopoly.com (bought out by biblio)
bookquarters.com (formerly bookgraveyard, revamped as wantedbooks)
fetchbook.info (meta-search of used bookstore portals, launched)
gbmbooks.com (revived but folded in 2006)
giaq.de (Genossenschaft der Internet-Antiquariate, Cooperative of Internet Antiquarian Booksellers, based in Germany, launched)
half.com (feedback system merged into ebay feedback system)
interloc.com (bought out and revamped as alibris)
goindaba.com (description-generating software, launched)
librarybooksales.org (portal for nonprofit friends-of-the-library sellers only, launched)
liquidatedirect.com (description-generating software, launched)
monsoonworks.com (description-generating software, launched)
myownbookshop.com (formerly titlesdirect) MyOwnBookshop was launched by an independent bookdealer and had the best search engine hands down. For example, a search for first editions returned only true firsts, and a search excluding book clubs actually excluded book clubs.
paypal.com (bought out by ebay)
Pondview Books (cover name used by alibris to sell on bn) This is only one example of a corporate-owned portal selling through another corporate-owned portal, thus setting up multiple layers between bookseller and bookbuyer. They apparently dropped this name when it became public knowledge.
wantedbooks.com (launched, formerly bookquarters)
Yahoo Warehouse (selling platform, folded)
abebooks.com (bought out by Hubert Burda Media, based in Germany)
bookopoly.com (bought out by biblio)
FillZ.com (launched, description-generating software)
iobabooks.com (formerly ioba.org, formerly hosted by abe, now hosted by choosebooks)
previouslypublished.com (meta-search, launched)
bookpursuit.com (based in Netherlands, launched)
booksatpbfa.com (based in UK, launched)
booksku.com (description-generating software, launched)
choosebooks.com (bought out by zvab)
findbookprices.com (meta-search, launched)
half.com (nearly shut down by ebay, then they decided to keep it)
iberlibro.com (bought out by abe)
myremainders.com (meta-search for remainder sellers only, launched)
worldbookmarket.com (based in Australia, launched)
abbookmart.com (launched and folded)
bookfinder.com (bought out by abe, but kept in operation)
ilab-lila.com (International League of Antiquarian Booksellers / Ligue Internationale de la Librarie Ancienne, portal launched)
iobabooks.com (formerly hosted by choosebooks, now hosted by biblio)
theartofbooks.com (description-generating and order management software, launched)
FillZ.com (bought out by abe)
Amazon zShops (folded)
bn.com (portal for used-book dealers, launched)
biblion.com (bought out by biblio)
vialibri.net (meta-search of used bookstore portals, launched)
yahoo.com (selling platform, partnered with ebay)
booklovers.co.uk (bought out by worldbookmarket)
marelibri.com (meta-search / meta-portal formed by five European portals -- antiqbook, livre-rare-book, maremagnum, prolibri, and uniliber -- each portal is owned by professional, independent, new and antiquarian bookdealers)
Yahoo Auctions (selling platform, folded)
abebooks.com (bought out by amazon, but kept in operation)
gojaba.com (aimed at buyers in Sweden, Russia, Brazil, Poland, owned by abe, launched)
marelibri.com (new members joined: antikvariat, booksatpbfa, biblio)
portal. A website where many bookdealers list and sell their books. Every entity listed above is a portal unless otherwise stated.
antiquarian. General term for old, rare, high-end used books.
description-generating software. A software product that supplies ready-made data, and sometimes also stock photos, for sellers of books, CDs, DVDs, video games, etc, based on International Standard Book Numbers.
launched. The year in which the entity began operation online.
meta-search. A website that searches several portals at once; the meta-search website itself sells no books.
redirect. A website that does nothing but take you to another website. (Example: searchbiblio.com is just a redirect to biblio.com) Redirects result when a website buys out another website but wants to keep the name to gather in customers.
remainders. General term for new books that have not sold fast enough and have been drastically reduced in price by the publisher or distributor. Some bookstores sell only remainders.
selling platform. A term used by website owners to refer to a system whereby independent dealers can join the website and sell through it. Some websites have more than one selling platform; for example, ebay has auctions and stores.
Visit my bookstore www.gwenfoss.com
Check out the cooperatively-owned bookdealers' portal www.tomfolio.com
Marvel at the largest glossary of used-book terminology on the web http://tomfolio.pbworks.com/glossary