Having started in 1993 as Interloc, which was a database for professional booksellers, Alibris was launched in 1998. With its headquarters in Emeryville, California, it remains a private company with less than 100 employees. Nevertheless, it has grown to become one of the largest online marketplaces for independent sellers of new and second hand books, movies and music. It claims to offer in excess of 100 million books from thousands of independent sellers around the world (sort of a niche Amazon). Around 15 million people are reckoned to have accessed its site in 2008.
Finding what you want is easy because items are organized by category - books, movies, music and textbooks. You can browse the list and enter details to search - title, author, ISBN or keywords for a book. There are also featured sellers and a list of current best sellers.
If you find an item that you want but don't wish to buy it just yet, you can put it on a wish list. In this way, you can build up a list of things you're interested in, so that you can buy them later or let someone else access the list and buy you the present you really want. Not likely to replace the usual wedding list haunts, but certainly it makes life easier if you can drop a subtle hint around your birthday or christmas about a "huge list of books that you've never been able to afford yet ...".
Of course, they may have a little trouble finding the site if you say the name out loud. www.alibris.com is definitely one of those you need to bookmark if you plan on coming back later as, whilst common errors such as www.albiris.com will get you redirected to the right site, others like www.allibris.com, www.alibis.com or www.albris.com will sending you completely in the wrong direction.
The company was founded to sell books and these are still the largest part of its product range. They include new and used textbooks, rare, collectible and signed books. Students can buy their textbooks and then sell them back when they've finished with them. You can also earn some money by writing and submitting a review of a book that you've read.
Books, movies or music are listed from casual sellers who just want to make some cash and clear things they no longer need, as well as professional sellers looking to increase their sales channels. And everything does get maximum exposure because it's also featured on various partner sites, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Borders bookseller. In fact, the company is currently making efforts to extend its coverage and has entered into partnerships with Akademos, an academic bookstore and marketplace, Bibliocity, Better World Books and Borders, covering both the US and UK sites.
The service isn't restricted to individual purchasers, with the needs of libraries and other institutions also being handled. They can search for replacement and new books, including those that are rare or out of print, or let the company's library team find the books they want. Orders are then consolidated, dispatched, possibly repackaging and shipping overseas when necessary, and invoiced. This means that many organizations use the company as a one-step shop to replenish their collections and fulfill orders.
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