Collection building in identified subject areas
Over the past three or four years we have done several retrospective collection development projects with Alibris. Our projects range from collecting books about designated geographic locations to enriching our collection in areas such as fashion, depending on the supplemental funding made available to us.
The process that has worked well for us is to give Alibris Library of Congress (LC) call number ranges to run against their inventory. We specify the types of titles we want them to avoid, such as juvenile materials or works of fiction. Generally in less than a week we receive an Excel spreadsheet collection report with all the information for each title that we need to make purchase decisions. In addition to full bibliographic data, this includes ISBN and BISAC codes, LC number, condition, description, and of course price.
Benefits of Using Alibris
Before we started using Alibris we would have done this type of collection development title by title, and probably generated a large number of small invoices. Alibris allows us to save a significant amount of time by quickly being able to identify a list of books that are actually available for sale, which really helps when we know we have a certain amount of money to spend. With Alibris we can quickly see what we can acquire in terms of number of titles and unique items.
Alibris is very easy to work with. Since their database reflects the inventories of thousands of sellers, it's amazing the titles they find. The lists they generate give us the information we need and they deal with the individual sellers so we don't have to. We get consolidated shipping and one invoice instead of many. We also have found Alibris to be very fair when dealing with us on returns. Even when it comes to esoteric requests, we count on Alibris and they've come through for us.