Thursday, August 28, 2008

How to Find Fishing & Fishing History Books On-Line

I am often asked where a certain fishing or fishing history book is available, so I thought I'd put together a few tips on how to find the best price on a particular volume you might be looking for.

Now, many of us like having books new and unused, but this makes finding certain volumes quite difficult. Lots of titles relating to fishing and fishing history can be very, very hard to find, and when you do chance to find one, they can be awfully pricey. Take for example Martin Keane's seminal work on bamboo fly rods Classic Rods and Rodmakers, published in 1976. Usually copies of this work sell from between $200 and $300 each, but if you want a copy of this book in pristine condition, be prepared to pay up to $400 to $500.

What is the best way to find more recent titles, however, like Roberts & Pavey's exceptional The Heddon Legacy? Here is what I believe is the best method of finding any title, regardless of printing date.

First, go and do a search on Bookfinder. I often see people reference or other metasites, but NO other search engine except Bookfinder searches all used book web sites, not just in America, but in the world. ABEBooks is just one place--a large site, no doubt--but Bookfinder even searches and for their inventory of books. It is simply the first, and usually, the only place you need to go to find the book you're looking for. In this case, the cheapest I was able to find a copy of this book was for $53.14. One of the things I like about Bookfinder is it adds the price of shipping already to your quote, so that is what you will pay.

The second step is to do a Google search. A friend of mine who designs search engines always says there is an art to using an internet search, and the real trick is to keep your key words limited and specific. In this case, a Google search with the terms "Heddon Legacy Book For Sale" brought up a number of listings, not all of them referenced in the search above. I have had limited luck using Google to find particularly rare titles from sellers not listed on Bookfinder. I just recently found a pristine copy of Harold H. Smedley's revised 1948 edition of his history of fly tying patterns for 1/2 of what Bookfinder was listing it for.

The third step is to search eBay. Currently, the cheapest copy of The Heddon Legacy is $75 on a Buy-It-Now option, but if you save your search, you will certainly find this book listed cheaper at some time in the future. Patience always brings a better price.

The fourth step is to post on some of the higher traffic fishing and fishing history message boards that you are looking for a particular title. Most of these sites, like Joe's Message Board, are linked to the right. Someone may see your posting and realize they have an extra copy they don't need, or may be looking to make some quick cash, in which case both parties usually end up happy.

The fifth and final step is to contact a used book store that specializes in angling books. I won't make a recommendation on whom to use for fear of offending some of my bookstore friends, but I will say there are at least a dozen helpful angling-related bookstores out there, all of which are happy to help you out. Putting the terms "Fishing Books For Sale" or something like it in a Google search (see above) will give you a range of options.

Three final provisos. First, for books still in print, it definitely pays to shop around. Take some time and compare prices, and you'll save money in the long run. Second, there are certain tackle books--such as the new Edward vom Hofe biography and the growing catalog of The Whitefish Press--that are only available either at NFLCC shows or directly from the web site. Finally, nothing beats the immediate gratification of buying a book directly from the author at an ORCA or NFLCC show. This way you can get it personalized, and you have the added bonus of meeting and talking to the author, who has almost certainly invested far more time and effort in his book than he or she will ever recoup financially. Take it from someone who spent ten years putting together a History of the Fish Hook in America--it is a labor of love.

Knowledge is everything, so go out and find yourself some good fishing and fishing tackle books!

-- Dr. Todd

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