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Top 25 Websites to Fuel Your Book Obsession

Updated: Apr 20

Graphics Atlas

Graphics Atlas. “Graphics Atlas is a sophisticated resource that presents a unique, object-based approach for the identification and characterization of prints and photographs”. This is your go-to website for identifying prints and photographs, and it is nothing short of brilliant. You will never again mistake a mezzotint for an aquatint.


Decorated and Decorative Paper Collection. If you lie awake at night fretting about the difference between bouquet and double comb marbled paper, this database is for you. It "showcases a selection of decorated and decorative papers from Europe, primarily Germany, France and Italy, produced between the 17th and 19th centuries. Representative samples include Western marbled paper, paste papers and decorative papers, such as Dutch gilt and lithographically or linoleum block printed paper." And while you’re at it, be sure to become a member of the Facebook group We love endpapers.


Decorated and Decorative Paper Collection

The website of the Rare Books and Manuscript Section (RBMS) of the American Library Association offers several very useful resources. A great one is Standard Citation Forms for Rare Materials Cataloging. Catalogs often refer to bibliographies and other reference works with rather cryptic abbreviations. This tool will help you decipher those references. Other useful RBMS tools are Latin Place Names and Glossary of Common Latin Terms Found in Imprints of Early Printed Books.


Obviously it's a bit daft to read John Carter's excellent classic ABC for book collectors in PDF format, but here it is. Carter's brilliant writing style makes this book a must-read for both novice and experienced book collectors alike. Numerous copies of several editions are available online. Note that the more recent editions are less attractive than the earlier editions, such as the 1972 fifth edition. Other useful glossaries are Bookbinding and the Conservation of books and the illustrated glossary by the University of Missouri.


The Biblio File "is a podcast about 'the book', and an inquiry into the wider world of book culture. Hosted by Nigel Beale it features wide ranging, long-form conversations with best practitioners inside the book trade and out - from writer to reader." There are interviews with several book collectors and rare book dealers, including Simon Beattie, Heather O'Donnell, Adrian Harrington, Jonathan A. Hill, Jason Rovito, and Benoit Forgeot.


The Biblio File

Sheila Markham's in conversation, a series of interviews with booksellers and book collectors, is another great resource. Over the years Markham has interviewed dozens of booksellers and collectors, giving her a unique insight into the fascinating world of rare books. If you're into interviews with bookseller you'll love the Bright Young Booksellers series by Fine Books Magazine as well.


Consortium of European Research Libraries. "The Consortium's purpose is to share resources and expertise between research libraries with a view to improving access to, as well as exploitation and preservation of, the European printed heritage."


Paper Through Time is a research project focusing on historical papers. It includes a valuable essay by Timothy Barrett on European Papermaking Techniques 1300-1800, a great read for everyone who wants to know how paper was made in the handpress period.


Short-title catalogues offer crucial bibliographical information about books printed in the handpress period. The most important are ISTC, USTC, ESTC, VD16, VD17, VD18, STCN and STCV. The STCV, modelled after the STCN, is the golden standard featuring the collation, pagination and the famous STCN fingerprint (which makes it very easy to identify different editions).


ILAB & IOBA. The websites of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers and the Independent Online Booksellers Association.


One of the most interesting developments in the world of rare books is no doubt Marvin Getman's brilliant and user friendly virtual book fair. Developed during the pandemic, "Getman's platform quickly took hold as a new way for buyers to meet sellers. Getman's platform is not only being used for his monthly fairs, it is now being licensed to show producers all over the world".


Fat chance that you haven't used the search engine ViaLibri, but this list wouldn't be complete without it. "ViaLibri searches for old and rare books offered on 34 different multi-dealer websites and over 100 individual dealer websites. Together these sites aggregate the inventory of over 20,000 antiquarian booksellers world-wide". And if you would like to support independent online bookstores, shop at Biblio.com.


Universal Short Title Catalogue

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