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Topic: Where do you find accurate book descriptions?

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Subject: Where do you find accurate book descriptions?
Date Posted: 7/20/2007 1:50 PM ET
Member Since: 3/19/2007
Posts: 250
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If you want to edit book data and add a description for a book on PBS that doesn't have one, where is the best place to find an accurate description? I thought Amazon would be good, but then I saw someone post about their info being inaccurate. Anyone have any good sources?

Date Posted: 7/20/2007 2:07 PM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2005
Posts: 6,421
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I don't know that I"ve found Amazon to be a bad source. If they have a description, I've always found it to be good. Trouble is, they don't always have one. I generally put the title & author, each enclosed in quotes, into a search engine, such as Google, then look thru the hits to find the best description.

Sites that are good include:




Internet Book List




Fantastic Fiction - primarily for Science Fiction & Fantasy, but main mainstream authors are also here.


WorldCat - a library connection

Romance Reader

Heartsong Presents

Love Inspired

Stop, You're Killing Me! - Primarily for mystery books

Date Posted: 7/20/2007 6:18 PM ET
Member Since: 3/19/2007
Posts: 250
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Wow, that's a whole load of sources! Thanks!

Date Posted: 7/20/2007 8:44 PM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2006
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And if they all fail, especially for books from the 50s-70s that are a little obscure, Wikipedia often has very good plot summaries that you can paraphrase from.

Date Posted: 7/20/2007 8:46 PM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2005
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You are so right, Eloise! I did forget that. I've often put the name of the author and the word wiki in the search and come up with the wiki for them, and then find the title in their wiki, and often get not only the description, but a cover image as well!

Date Posted: 7/20/2007 8:48 PM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2007
Posts: 2,941
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Sherry already listed them....

but my three favorite are (in order) Amazon, Ebay (but not all of the pics are good), and then fantastic Fiction (good pics, but not great descriptions).


Thanks Sherry....that is a great list.


Date Posted: 7/25/2007 6:22 AM ET
Member Since: 12/8/2006
Posts: 29,785
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It'll come in handy, I've come across so many books without descriptions and can't find any for them!

Date Posted: 11/27/2007 3:01 PM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2005
Posts: 6,421
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This topic lists some great sources for adding data to your books, so I thought I would bump it back into view.

Books with descriptions move off your shelf so much faster it is really worth the effort to get a description added where there is none, or a poor one.

Don't forget to look at the reviews for the book, and different editions listed right here on PBS. I find PBS to be one of the greatest sources of descriptions there is. A lot of people don't know you can edit the description, so they put it in their review, AND up until this year, we were not able to edit them at all, so we had no choice but to put it in the review. Now, those reviews are your quickest source for the description and so handy!

Date Posted: 11/27/2007 4:08 PM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2006
Posts: 1,691
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Library of congress catalog  http://catalog.loc.gov  is the closest thing the US has to a national library.  A national library has copies of every book published in their country.  It is especially good for books with no ISBN.  There are also some good summaries about the books, too.  They are always my first source.

If you are not a librarian, skip the MARC format and just use the pages that show infomation about the book and more information about the book in plain English.  (The MARC format is on the screen with all the numbers and makes no sense to people who aren't cataloging librarians.)

Date Posted: 1/15/2008 3:16 PM ET
Member Since: 4/9/2007
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bumping back up

Date Posted: 1/15/2008 6:27 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2007
Posts: 2,697
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Another suggestion on finding an accurate description of the book is the author's website...they not only give a great picture of the book but a fantastic and accurate description.

Date Posted: 2/2/2008 10:18 PM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2006
Posts: 315
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I have to nod emphatically at "author's website," assuming the author does have a good one.

I just found Emily Hendrickson's site, which is a treasure-trove: accurate descriptions, and quite large cover pictures, for everything she's ever published. I don't even read regencies, but I found a couple of these that didn't have covers or descriptions and went looking -- now she's become a minor project of mine, since the data's just LAYING there waiting for me to pour it into PBS. :->

Date Posted: 2/2/2008 10:21 PM ET
Member Since: 10/23/2005
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You guys rock! Thank you for all your hard work!

Date Posted: 2/3/2008 12:30 AM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2007
Posts: 159
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I usually use Amazon. I also look on Half.com occasionally. When all else fails, I just Google the title and author of the book to see what I can find. That always pulls something up.

Date Posted: 2/3/2008 1:10 AM ET
Member Since: 2/12/2007
Posts: 831
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My favorite new find is bibliothecae.com http://www.bibliothecae.com/search.asp

They have the info directly off the back of the book, often exactly the way it is formatted.  The emphasis seems to be romance fiction, but they have other categories as well.  Be sure to check the spelling!

ETA: I'm sorry to say that this site seems to be defunct.  I will miss it.

Last Edited on: 5/31/08 12:47 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/3/2008 1:30 AM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2008
Posts: 14,973
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My favorite new find is bibliothecae.com

oh, that's excellent!  now when i go through my bookshelf to try to update all those Harlequin Presents from the 80's and 90's, i probably won't have to type in so many descriptions from scratch!  *and* covers!

Date Posted: 2/3/2008 6:00 AM ET
Member Since: 10/20/2007
Posts: 1,680
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I generally go to the Barnes & Noble site to get a good description and read reviews before ordering a book on PBS.

Date Posted: 8/12/2008 5:15 PM ET
Member Since: 4/9/2007
Posts: 548
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bumping back up and also a good one is fictiondb

Here's the website  (it's best to search by author's name)



Last Edited on: 8/12/08 5:15 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/12/2008 5:52 PM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2006
Posts: 9,383
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Yes, and FictionB often has images that are unavailable elsewhere, too.

Subject: book descriptions
Date Posted: 4/29/2009 5:23 PM ET
Member Since: 6/14/2008
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I find that Barnes and Nobles has good descriptions.  They don't always have the info, but when they do, it is accurate.  Barbara

Date Posted: 5/1/2009 2:57 PM ET
Member Since: 2/26/2009
Posts: 42,136
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Just thought this was an interesting and handy thread and should be near the top.

Date Posted: 5/1/2009 4:25 PM ET
Member Since: 4/24/2009
Posts: 16
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The trouble with Amazon...


The only problem I have really seen with Amazon descriptions is a result of how they use one main entry for every version of the book.  Now I can see why it is useful to have the reviews & descriptions of the hard cover, paberback, and subsequent printings in the same place.  The problems arise when there are substantial differences between versions (This is especuially problematic with classics that have sever different publishers churning out several different editions).  Amazon will provide a description that may apply to a different translation or to a restored or unabridged version.  If you copy and paste without checking you will get inacurate information.

Date Posted: 5/1/2009 10:33 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,515
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I have to repeat Sherry's comment.  Books with covers and descriptions will move off your bookshelf faster.  This is especially true with the Order More option.  

Date Posted: 5/1/2009 11:39 PM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2009
Posts: 294
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I saw someone mention the author websites--those are great--but also check out the publisher's website. If it's a fairly recent publication, the whole marketing hoopla may still be online, including a large image of the cover and a good paragraph(s)-long "description" of the book's content. I don't think I've ever seen a publisher's description of their own book that wasn't accurate--overblown and hyped, perhaps, but true to the essentials of what's in the book.

But what if you've tried everything and you're still triking out... Trying plugging the ISBN into Google. What you'll get at first is entry after entry of used-bookstore conglomerate sites like bookfinder, abe, etc. Some of them, such as Alibris, often have more than just the condition of an individual copy of the book, but cover art and short synopsis. That's what I did just now to find cover art & synopsis for an obscure 1994 paperback  I couldn't find that data for anywhere else.


Date Posted: 5/2/2009 12:13 AM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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Great suggestions, Fiona!  I still have to figure out how to load the pictures of covers.  I hate being computer illiterate.