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AbeBooks has been in business since 1996 and has an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau. In addition to new and used print books, AbeBooks also offers rare, autographed, out-of-print and first edition books.

The Good

Out of the ten New York Times bestselling-books we used as part of our comparison process, AbeBooks had all of them in stock. And if you’re a collector, check out the Rare Books section – AbeBooks has the most extensive selection we saw while reviewing online bookstores. There is also information about best practices for appraising, buying, selling and caring for rare books – a nice hub of information if you’re an aspiring collector or looking to offload that dusty collection in the attic.

AbeBooks offers several ways to connect with other readers and stay updated on the latest in the book world, including a very active forum, a daily blog posted by AbeBooks staff, featured articles about various book-related subjects, a monthly newsletter and a book fair directory. There is also a section called BookSleuth, in which users help each other track down rare books they’re searching for.

You can also sell your old textbooks to AbeBooks. You can type in the ISBN for each title, and the site will tell you how much AbeBooks will buy it for. You’ll also be able to ship your textbooks to AbeBooks via a free trackable FedEx label, so there’s no cost to you.

The Bad

Given that AbeBooks has such an active community of book lovers on its forums, we were surprised to learn that the site features no user reviews. Some titles do have editorial reviews included in the details about the book, but they’re brief at best. And don’t be misled by the stars you see next to the titles – these are not based on reviews, but instead on how many times a specific title has been purchased through the site. If you already know what title you’re looking for, the lack of reviews may not matter much – but if you’re in the mood to discover a new read, your purchase may feel like a bit of a gamble since you won’t be able to learn much about the book.

AbeBooks also doesn’t have any sort of wishlist feature. If you become an AbeBooks regular, you’ll have to deal with the hassle of tracking your to-do list elsewhere and then checking it against AbeBooks’ stock when you’re ready to make another purchase.

We also had a difficult time with the basic search function on AbeBooks – the results it returned weren’t nearly as accurate as some of the other online bookstores we reviewed. We did try the Advanced Search and found that to be much more efficient.

The Bottom Line

AbeBooks is off to a great start with its selection, online community and unique collection of rare books – however, the user experience could use some improvement. We recommend that AbeBooks improve upon its search functionality and give its already-active users the opportunity to leave reviews and help other buyers.

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