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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.


Leo Harrison –


What is your purpose in starting a online book database (i.e., to help online booksellers, to get a database that does what you think a book database should do, because it’s a good business to be in, all of the above, none of the above, or ????). is a natural extension of our shop in London’s Mayfair, where some 100 dealers display their stock. When our site was first launched in April 2000, we wanted to offer booksellers who were unable to display books within our premises the opportunity of participating in the Biblion project.

Is this a long-term commitment on your part? Where do you see yourself and your database in 3 years? 5 years?

Yes, our commitment is for the long term. We wish to grow steadily and constantly strive to improve the service we provide our participating dealers and their customers. In these uncertain times of mergers and takeovers, we remain fiercely independent and have no intention of selling our clients to the highest bidder.

What lister book database inventory programs do you/will you support?

We can accept files from any bookseller’s database that can export files in delimited text or UIEE format.

What are your upload procedures? Deletion procedures? Are “wants” listings available? For sale matches? Are any additions/changes planned?

Our unique upload engine allows dealers to map their own field settings against Biblion’s own field structure. In this way, dealers should not have to modify their databases and once set, a dealer’s field arrangement is stored on our server allowing for very simple uploading of stock.

However, we are always happy to accept files sent as email attachments, should the dealer prefer.

Books can be deleted in batches via our upload engine or individually through our online form.

We require dealers to update their inventories on a regular basis.

Customers can register as many “wants” on our system as they require. They are required to log in to do so. They can choose to be informed of their want status daily, weekly, or monthly and all their wants are held on a page from which quick searches can be conducted. This can save a considerable amount of time for those customers who have permanent wants and wish to run regular searches for them.

No “For Sale Matches” as yet, but this is planned.

What customer service (for both sellers and buyers) do you/will you have?

We are always delighted to help sellers and buyers in any way we can. We provide support via telephone and email during UK office hours: Mon – Fri, 10am to 6pm.

Will you/do you have any quality (i.e., descriptions, shipping, and/or customer service) standards for your listers? If so, what will be/are the consequences of violating those standards?

All sellers are obliged to agree to our terms of trading prior to signing up with us. Sellers are required to keep up to date inventories and to respond to orders and enquiries promptly. Shipping tables (based on destination, weight and speed of service) are filled in by our sellers and provide customers with a good guide as to how much delivery will add to their bill.

Customers are provided with seller’s contact details, should they require more precise quotes.

We are more than happy to mediate in any disputes arising between sellers and buyers, but serious breaches in our conditions of trading will result in the seller’s immediate exclusion from the database.

What are your technical arrangements (in non-technical language, please) to ensure reliability of service? Future growth? Additional services?

We have a good technical team dedicated to the maintenance and improvement of the site. Our database is designed to deal with an increasing number of books and customers. We encourage the reporting of bugs and other problems and always do our best to provide solutions as quickly as possible.

Our dealers already receive discounts on packaging and book protection materials, as well as the services of an excellent bookbindery. We will be adding new products and services over the coming months.

Will you/do you have the capability of taking credit card info for orders?If so, what can you tell us about the safety procedures you have or will have in place to ensure the security of such info?

Orders are placed through our secure server. Dealers receive half the card details by email, but have to log in to collect the other half. The email information is not stored anywhere on our server. We believe this to be far safer than sending payment information via two or three emails and also means that hackers will have no joy with the information stored on our server, should they be clever enough to get through our firewall.

Do you ever plan to process credit card orders through your database (rather than simply passing on the info to the lister) and, if so, will the lister or buyer bear the processing cost, and how long will it take to get payment to the lister?

No plans at present, but a few dealers have asked us to look into this.

Do you have any plans for programs associated with your database which would involve anything other than direct contact between seller and buyer?


Do you have or do you plan to have an “all word search” capability?

This will be considered when the database is next upgraded.

What search capabilities does your database have now? What is planned for the future?

Our advanced search allows searches for:

  • Author

  • Title

  • Publisher

  • Keyword

  • Published Year (from/to)

  • Price (from/to)

  • Signed Books

  • First Edition Books

  • Currency Displayed

Searches can also be ordered by author name, title and price (either ascending or descending)

On what will you base your listing fees? What fees do you have now or plan to have?

Biblion is the only site offering its dealers a choice of either commission or subscription fees. If they chose, dealers can switch from one system to the other on the first day of the month, providing we receive a few days notice. This allows sellers to make the most economical choice according to how well their sales are going.

Fee schedule:


 1 – 999 items listed – £17.62 per month or £176.20 per year 1000+ items listed – £29.37 per month or £293.75 per year


11.75% on items actually sold via Biblion (i.e., sales, not orders)

All of the above charges include Value Added Tax at 17.5%

Do you plan to have or now have your database searched by Addall or Bookfinder or any other mega-search site? is searched by both AddAll and Bookfinder.

How do you plan to advertise your database (both to draw listers and buyers)?

We advertise in most of the major trade publications in the US and UK. Currently we are investing in search engine promotion via a specialist company., of course, benefits from all of the widespread display advertising promoting the Mayfair shop and is brought to the prominent attention of the many visitors our shop receives. No big budget extravaganzas, but the larger we grow the more money we will spend on promotion.

What background or experience do you or other people involved with your database have that relates to the online book or online book database business?

I have been a bookseller for many years and opened the Biblion shop after much discussion with the trade and my customers. My colleague, Sebastian Gray, runs his own I.T. company (ItLab), so we feel that we launched with a good mix of trade experience and technical know-how. However, we are ever conscious of suggestions and comments received from both sellers and buyers and realize that continued improvement is vital to our long-term success.

Do you or are you planning to have professional management, bookseller management, or????

No plans

What markets (geographical and/or demographic) are you aiming at? initially concentrated on the UK market. However, the internet is global and we soon found dealers from all corners of the world wishing to list their stock with us. The buyers who visit our site are also truly international.

What services/features does your database have that you feel sets you apart and/or will ensure the success of your database?

Our unique fee schedule (commission or subscription) allows our dealers to get the best value for money according to their circumstances.

Our unique upload engine enables our dealers to map their own databases with our own and allow for very simple uploading of stock.

Our simple Quick Buy ordering process enables customers to purchase the books they want with the minimum of fuss and safe in the knowledge that their card details will be sent securely.

Time saving quick searches of registered wants.

We always do our very best to attend to enquiries and problems.

Overall, our commitment to is passionate and this provides us with enough enthusiasm and dedication to ensure our longevity. Also, I think the great majority of our customers quite like us!

Please tell us anything you’d like about yourself and/or your database, and thank you for participating.

Biblion Mayfair: our shop was opened in April 1999. was launched in April 2000. currently has about 500 registered dealers (this figure is growing daily) and over 2.5 million books listed.




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