IOBA Q & A Column

Q. For books that you have already bought and looked up on the internet, what is your specific criteria (prices too low, too many copies already online) for not putting them online? Or do you put everything online?

Jonathan Grobe Books

A. Why add to the glut and waste keystrokes? If it appears that I can’t get at least $10.00 for a book, then it goes out to .

Ilene Kayne
B is for Book

I use condition and number of copies online as my criteria. I try not to list anything with more than 10-15 copies already available (becoming more difficult as time goes by), anything with underlining or musty odor (unless exceptionally scarce) and then it is fully described in the listing. Some of the ones that are prolific on the net will go well on e-Bay (particularly non-fiction).

Donald & Cynthia Putt
Parnassus on Wheels

If there are more than 50 copies online, I don’t bother, unless most of them are ex-library, book club, damaged, etc. If I have to ask less than $8.00 for a book, it goes on, unless it is too old to have an ISBN.

Stan Modjesky.

Q. Is there anyway to find out if a book is from a book club, such as: Mystery Guild, or Book of the Month Club?

Lynn DeWeese-Parkinson – submitted on behalf of members of Bibliophile, a great online subscription list for book lovers.

A. There is no one way to identify book club editions, and for every “rule” there are exceptions. Here are the main rules for books published in the U.S.:

1. NO PRICE on dust jacket when the book is published by a major U.S. trade publisher, i.e., Random House, Houghton Mifflin, Dutton, etc.

Exceptions: Some Book-of-the-Month-Club (BOMC) editions DO have a price on the dj. Family Bookshelf book club editions almost always have a price. (usually stated as such on the rear flap). Conversely, some small publishers and university presses sometimes do not have prices on the dj. It’s uncommon, but some trade publishers such as St. Martins, who also publish academic/scholarly books, might not have a price on the dj on these academic books.

2. Cheaper, lighter weight and/or smaller format. This is generally true of books published by the Doubleday book clubs, including science fiction and mystery, the Literary Guild, The Family Bookshelf editions, etc.

Exceptions (many): Book-of-the-Month-Club Editions are often identical or almost identical to the trade editions, including stating 1st edition, etc. Older Literary Guild editions are well produced. The Junior Literary Guild (children’s books) are identical except for the price on the dj, and the ‘guild’ on the spine of the book instead of publisher’s name. Many newer book club editions are much closer to the original format, often the same size, and not obviously cheaper.

3. Lacks the publisher’s usual method of identifying first editions, whether it is stating first edition, or a number line, etc.

Exceptions: Frequently BOMC states 1st edition, but has blind embossed dot on the back cover. Family Bookshelf sometimes state ‘first printing’ but these editions are cheaper and lighter in weight so you can tell even if you don’t have a dj. Usually “Family Bookshelf” is stated on rear flap of dj. Many newer mystery and other generic book club editions will have a statement or a number line, but usually no price on dj. These are the books most commonly misidentified as firsts.

4. Blind embossed dot on the lower edge of back cover near spine.

NO exceptions. If a book has this dot, even if dj has price, and the books says first edition, and is in every other way identical to a first edition, it is a BOMC EDITION. This would be an infallible way of identifying book club editions, except that only one book club in the U.S. used this dot, the BOMC, and then only for part of its existence. Even the BOMC did not use this on all of its books, so the vast majority of BCE (book club editions) do not have this dot.

Note: The Borzoi Hound used by Simon & Schuster, and the big colored dots on some of James Michener’s books, etc., are not the BOMC blind embossed dot.

5. No bar code for a book that would normally have one – or a generic book club bar code. The opposite is not true; many book club djs have the identical bar code, with ISBN, as the trade editions.

6. Laid-in material indicating that it is a book club selection; for some small non-fiction book clubs, which basically distribute trade editions, this is the only way to tell.

7. For large trade paperbacks published by the Quality paperback Book Club, a division of BOMC, that might appear like ARCs, i.e., no price, 1st edition stated, there will usually be a code hidden in the rear gutter.

Note: Some book club editions are the “original,” produced only by the book club, especially Guild editions, Nelson Doubleday for science fiction, etc. For some science fiction and mysteries, the book club edition might be the first hardcover edition. (Sometimes there are multiple book club editions of the same title. The Doubleday clubs used a code in the gutter towards the back of the book that can establish priority.)

A common scenario might be to describe a mystery published by Simon & Schuster as a “First Edition ” even though there is no price on the dj. The bookseller will say “it has a number line with a “1” and states first printing. “it is not a cheaply made book” “it isn’t a small size” “it has a headband” or “there is no blind dot”. None of this matters. In this case, the book met Rule #1 (no price on the dj, major US publisher), and it only needs to meet ONE rule.

A couple of last points: It is not accurate to describe all book club copies as BOMC editions. There is often a difference between BOMC books and those by other clubs. The generic terms are ‘book club’ ‘bc’, or ‘bce.’

If the only way to tell if a book is a bce is by the price or lack thereof on the dj, and you do not have a dj, then you cannot call the book a ‘first edition’ (unless you personally threw away the priced dj). Book club editions are almost always much more common than trade editions; so in the absence of evidence that the book is a trade edition, you cannot just call it a first (if, for example, you know that it was also a BOMC edition) The same applies if the corner has been clipped. Unless you personally clipped the price off, you cannot assume that a price had been there.

Special thanks to Chris Volk of for this in-depth information. I might also add that it would be helpful to have reference material, such as Zempel/Verkler. FIRST EDITIONS: A GUIDE TO IDENTIFICATION, to help in determining editions.

Q. Why do some eBayers have a little box around their seller rating with a feedback rating given in a percentage of positive feedbacks? I have just noticed this in the past month or so.

Submitted by David Peterson. Misty Mountain Books.

A. eBay rolled out a feedback enhancement, which it is slowly phasing in, which gives buyers the ability to see right there on the listing page, a seller’s percentage of positives vs. negatives.

Keith Sparrow
Sparrow’s Nest Books

Q. After spending two days making three very quick websites, I feel it’s time to ask what other people do. I know there is a fondness out there for FrontPage, but does anyone use anything less complicated & proprietary? I would rather just be able to open a html file and fiddle with it than what I am doing now.

J. Godsey.

A. I have great confidence in recommending NetObjects Fusion 7. It is by far the simplest and yet most thorough pieces of web software that I have come across after a long search, including Frontpage, which I also have.

Luis Porretta.

And from Jim Hart:

I have used “Programmer’s File Editor” for coding for many years. It is my first choice for HTML, C, C++, Java, Basic, Visual Basic, and the various scripting languages used on the net. PFE will load files limited only by the amount of memory available. You can save text files in either Windows or Unix format. I have loaded and worked on log files exceeding 600 meg with no problem. PFE is a free program. The developer no longer supports it, and there will be no future changes, but I have had no problems with the software after many thousand hours of use on platforms from Windows 3 through Win 95 & NT. I have not used it on Win 98 nor on XP. I don’t think there should be a problem with either, but cannot swear to this. You can download the latest version of PFE from Simtel’s site: .

Joyce also tells us these were other highly recommended programs:
CoffeeCup HTML:
1st Page 2000:
WebPlus 8:
AceHTML 5 Key Features:

Our thanks to all contributors, especially Bibliophile from whence most of the information was culled.

Jean S. McKenna – Editor, Q&A
Chairman, Education Committee

The Standard: The Journal of the Independent Online Booksellers Association

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