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The IOBA Standard is the journal of the Independent Online Booksellers Association and covers the book world, with a special focus on the online used, out-of-print, and collectible bookselling markets.


Book dealer software – a progress report from ammonet.

By: Jack Benson

First, many thanks to IOBA and IOBA Standard editor Shirley Bryant for the opportunity to describe some of our current book-related development projects here at ammonet in Zurich.

The new web site and database is currently in beta test phase. The features likely to interest dealers most are the custom search page facility, and the improved search and display.

We have always offered a custom search script to dealers, and this will now be much easier to configure to match our dealers’ own sites, and for those dealers with no web site of their own, it will be possible to host a customised page on our servers. All the search options of the main site will be available in the custom search but without logos or links. This is thus a genuinely individualised search page, backed by a powerful database, that returns the buyer to the dealer’s own site at the completion of a purchase.

In addition to custom searches for individual dealers, groups of dealers such as cooperatives and societies can have a multi-dealer search page that sends orders to their individual dealers. You can view a version of this under development for the International Antiquarian Mapsellers Association (IAMA) by following the links on their site at Don’t place any “test” orders – the site is live! There you can see a completely customised search and ordering system that integrates nicely into the IAMA web site. Administration of the membership and database can be carried out independently of administration. We see this as an inexpensive alternative to independent development and maintenance of a web site/database system that might be beyond the means of groups who would nonetheless like to have their own collective bookselling site.

The search facility of the new site is much improved. An “any word” search plus sorting by price, author and title have been added, and in addition we have developed a sophisticated “sort by relevance” feature designed to yield search results sorted to reflect the buyers’ search criteria very closely. The “date loaded” search option will take account of purge files that reload books displayed previously. In addition to our shopping basket, there will be a direct inquiry short-cut for use by shopping basket-shy book buyers.

Many other improvements have been made, especially with regard to image display and image management. For those dealers who have to enter the URLs of their images by hand, a purge file will preserve the URLs of images linked to book records that were previously listed, obviating the need to re-enter image URL data. We will offer the option to house images on our server, using our server-side image manager. Dealers who chose to do this will be pleased to know that our new system will generate thumbnails from their images on the fly. Of course, image URLs can be uploaded in data formats that contain the appropriate field, including the non-canonical IM field in UIEE.

Our popular “ammonet Secure” credit card data transmission system has just been updated ( This is a secure system designed to pick up credit card data for processing (or not processing) later by dealers who already process cards and see no need to subscribe to real-time processing systems. It can be linked to the shopping cart and any other system that accepts a simple link. A link can be sent by e-mail so that a customer is directed to the dealer’s secure card data upload page. It is browser-based, easy to use and heavily encrypted. This system sidesteps problems that plague automatic-charge e-commerce – book already sold, chargebacks, dubious cards, known miscreants etc. We have added an option for receiving cheque data for those who process cheques electronically.

Last but not least, I’m pleased to announce that ammonet has been selected to develop a web site/database for the UK-based Provincial Book Fairs Association (PBFA). In keeping with the long-established function of this Association, their site will present members’ stock organised around real and virtual book fairs, as well as a comprehensive search and order system. There will be strong emphasis on image display since there’s no doubt that pictures sell books. Completion of this project will bring onto the internet market a significant number of dealers who currently have no internet presence.



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