IOBA Q & A Column


Fall 2003 (Vol. IV, No. 3) Table of Contents

newlogoQ. This will probably strike the more technically hip out there as a dumb question, but what is a “cookie” in computer language?

I talked to a guy who does tech support and he told me that one of the reasons my computer is acting so sluggish is that it is filled with temporary internet files.

Also in this file are a lot of things called cookies. I’m pretty sure it’s ok to delete the temporary files that represent web browsing of bygone days but what is a cookie and is it ok to delete it?(them?)

Susan Halas
Wailuku, Maui

A. For simple questions like this, as well as surprisingly complicated ones, AskJeeves, is very good at returning the information you seek. Here is the #3 item returned from the search “What is a cookie?”

http://www.cookiecentral.com/faq/

You could delete your cookies, but this can be inconvenient. Currently many cookies are very useful — for example, cookies contain the information that allows Amazon.com to tell when you are buying/looking. Deleting the cookie might have no harmful effects, but you might have to log on with your name and password.

The temporary files that accumulate minute-by-minute are another manner. Every website you visit will cause you to download and save 5-10-20 files, many are simple icons, labels, illustrations, etc., and they linger around forever. They are perfectly harmless but they take up room. So I think it’s absolutely safe to delete temporary *.jpg and *.gif files.

If you tried the AskJeeves search, you will find other shareware products that will help clean out cookies, temporary files, spyware, adware, etc. I recently downloaded SpyBot-S&D (SpyBot Search&Destroy), and used it once, so I don’t have any extensive experience with it. A simple search for SpyBot should tell you much, much more.

If you use IE, access Tools/Internet Options/General and you can clear some of the temporary files. You can even examine the LONG list of files in your Temporary Files directory. If you see some cookies from sites that you no longer use, I think it’s safe to delete those.

Doug McClure

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Q. Can anyone please tell me how to access the OCLC catalog?

(anonymous)

A. Recently having begun to conduct research for a book and collecting specific items for reselling (and buying from this list), I was “reintroduced” to the concept of a “library” after about 35 years! (One day the inspiration hit me to stop and look around as I was driving by!) I was was dumbfounded to discover that there aren’t card catalogs any more (got a strange look from the librarian when I asked where it was) and was pointed to a PC where I was shown a screen to get to on-line catalogs and on-line databases — including OCLC WORLDCAT — all of which can be accessed from home if you have a LIBRARY CARD, of which I am once again a proud owner! Notice that if you try Steve’s link below, it says “This service is only provided for links from OCLC WorldCat partner pages. Your local library system is most likely a partner!

Having once thought that brick-and-mortar libraries where “obsolete,” I’m now “re-educated” and recognize the unique portals they offer for research.

Although I do the research from home, I now find myself visiting the library most every week to “touch” books I’m considering purchasing. Although we have a small library, most of what I’m looking for is somewhere in the local system and I generally can get it delivered to my library within 2-3 days.

Dick Miller
North Andover, MA 01845
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Q. If you’re new at this and can’t afford to buy more than the essentials, but willing to study to learn, which are the most essential and affordable price guides to buy?

Judith Broadhurst
Santa Cruz, CA

A. The Ahearn price guides are essentials, in my mind, but they are not cheap. But keep in mind they are pricing books in perfect condition, and they are a “guide” to values, not definitive. But they also contain an enormous amount of other information that is invaluable. American Book prices CD, also not cheap, also is essential for pricing rare books.

Dan Riker
Basset Books LLC

I second the recommendations made by my neighbor Dan Riker. In addition I would nominate these three specialty guides, all of which at least attempt to help with values:

Lee, Thomas. “20th Century First Edition Classic Fiction: a Price and Identification Guide. “Despite its rather clumsy title this little guide is a gem. The pricing info is as good as in any other guide (i.e., a piece of the puzzle of how to price the book in hand), but the real value here is the information on first editions and points of issue. Tom Lee has generously “opened his filing cabinet” and included things like number of copies in the first printing, book and jacket issue points, tricky book club editions, and other such. Obviously it is quite selective as to the authors included, but the latest edition covers 64 of them and 1,000 of their books. At something like $25 it is a real bargain, and perfect for someone like me who does not specialize in modern firsts.

Broadfoot, Tom. “Civil War Books: a Priced Checklist with Advice.” (Fourth Edition). An amazingly comprehensive single volume reference. Unlike the Ahearns’ guide mentioned by Dan, the prices for a lot of the books listed here tend to be low–partly because the latest edition (4th) is from 1996.

Howes, Wright. “U.S.iana (1650-1950).”.Definitely an essential reference for Americana. Its concise bibliographic details are of far more use than its outdated pricing information, however.

There are many other “essential” references, depending on your specialties–particularly bibliographies as opposed to price guides.

Rock
Back Creek Books

No single simple answer. It depends on what area you focus on, what specialties you want to emphasize. If you deal in Americana, you really need a copy of Wright Howes’ USiana. If you focus on Western Americana you need (in addition to Howes) Wagner/Camp/Becker: The Plains and the Rockies. If you emphasize cowboys or outlaws, you need Ramon Adams’ Six Guns and Saddle Leather. Then there are other guides for medicine, for science & technology, for natural history, and on and on……..

Trussel’s website has a good list of references at http://www.trussel.com/f_books.htm
Try Littera Scripta at http://www.litterascripta.com/Refworks/index.shtml
These are useful.

C.O.Patterson
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Q. After searching ABE, Addall and Bookfinder, what, if any, data bases are left unsearched? Wasn’t there a search engine for independent book web sites? How many, if any of these will Google search? Thanks for any and all assistance.

Madlyn
Center Aisle Books

A. Madlyn (and others):

BookRanch
Fetchbooks
Myownbookshop
Tomfolio
“the one that doesn’t belong” — bookranch — a dealer site as opposed to general search. I can only attribute that to good marketing and a dry wit!

Dick Miller
North Andover, MA

A. Google is great for book searches. I got two queries off it yesterday that were both pretty vague, on the order of “I’m looking for information about Jose Maria Perez Martinez [a made up name] and found out from Google you have a book that mentions him. Please let me know if it is available.”

Well, he wasn’t someone I remembered & I couldn’t figure out quickly what the book was, so I went to Google and did a search for Jose +Lynn +all the rest of his name +book. A link popped up that took me right to the catalogue on my home page where for some unknown reason I mentioned a reference to him in the comments on a book for sale. I was very impressed. Google knows my inventory better than I do!

I use Google for book searches all the time. It works best if you toss in a +book into the search. As near as I can tell it searches every page there is out there, or so close I’m never going to know the difference.

This has, I think, some implications for databases. I haven’t quite figured those out yet, but, in my guise as president of one, it worries me. As a bookstore owner I sometimes wish I had the courage to drop them all for a couple of months to see if Google would pick up the slack. Dick Miller’s comment, “It’s odd, but I use Google more than any other tool on my computer, but seldom use it to search for books!” leads me to think that I better not try the experiment.

Lynn DeWeese-Parkinson
Forest Grove, OR

Thanks to all of our contributors, especially Lynn, who is owner of Bibliophile, a great venue for booksellers, collectors, and booklovers, and the source for our Q & A material.
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Jean S. McKenna, Editor
Chairman Education Committee

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