The Internet provides lots of places to look for Modern Library titles. Bookstores abound, as do bookstore collaborations - book sites that let you search the stock of lots of bookstores at the same time. And now there are even auction sites.
Everybody and his sister are selling books on the Internet these days. Because anybody with a computer and a savvy 14-year-old in the house can set up a sexy Web site, it's tough to know if you're dealing with somebody who's reputable. By "reputable" I mean somebody who wants to make you happy, gives honest descriptions, ships what you pay for, and accepts returns.
The following dealers are Modern Library specialists with whom I've had multiple transactions. They have been more than generous with their knowledge about the Modern Library, and without their input this site would have much less information than it does.They are honest and reliable; I recommend them all.
Henry Toledano literally wrote the book on Modern Library collecting and was responsible for my current ML addiction. (I bought my first ML from him.) His patient instruction accounts for my fussiness in book condition. He's a great source for ML firsts! He lists on ABEbooks but it's best that you e-mail your ML requests.
Sharon Biederman is reputed to have the most astounding collection of ML flexi's in the universe. How else could she offer so many on a regular basis for auction at eBay? Check out her auctions or send requests.
The late Amy Comeau raised the bar on book descriptions at eBay. She mentioned every flaw she could find, as well as providing terrific descriptions of each book's points. Her business is now in the capable hands of her husband Albert Robbins. Look at his auction listings or write with your needs.
John Wolansky has been a constant contributor to every section of ModernLib.com since forever. He sells on eBay under the name jwol900l. Here's a link to his listings: http://www.ebay.com/sch/jwol900l/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_ipg=&_from=
A collaboration book site is a Web site that provides access to the stocks of multiple bookstores. A site that I use frequently is ABE. Literally thousands of bookstores list the majority of their books here.
This is an excellent Web site. They claim to have over 12,000 dealer-members listing millions of books, and I believe them. A reader tells me that dealers don't get first crack at ABE listings, so this might be your best shot to check first.
BookFinder is an excellent facility to use when you're searching for a specific title or author. You can specify publisher as part of your key-word search criteria, but you need to click Advanced Search to get this option. BookFinder searches all of the collaborative sites listed above as well as a few others, and a bunch of independent booksellers to boot.
BookFinder searching includes Powell's Bookstore in Portland Oregon, probably the largest used bookstore in the world. The store covers a city block and occupies several floors and a maze of rooms. It's a wonderful place to visit; I've spend many happy hours there.
But from a collector's point of view, their Internet listings suck. They give no indication as to condition nor if a book has a dust jacket. Additionally, I know from personal interview that several of the people who work there are avid Modern Library collectors, and the Good Stuff seldom sees the light of open shelf.
I've seen listings of the same title for $45 evaluated as VG/VG, $25 with no dust jacket and major defects ("Hinge broke, cover scuffed/soiled"), to $12 NF/NF including shipping. A range like this is quite common.
Several elements determine the range of prices: what the dealer paid for the piece, the condition the piece is in, the rarity/scarcity of the piece, and - perhaps most important - the demand. In the last analysis, a piece costs whatever the price the dealer sets. And that price ultimately depends on what the dealer thinks s/he can get.
Bottom line: Even if the first hit you get is the book you want in the condition you want, search through the rest of the listings. Compare all the hits, and then make your decision. You're liable to find just what you want at a surprisingly good price.
Be sure that the piece you buy is really the piece you want. For example, just because you've used the search phrase "modern library" doesn't mean that every hit you get is for a title in the Modern Library series: you'll often find stuff like "in a modern library binding" or "The modern library contains computers as well as card catalogs."
Often the listings can be cryptic, even deceptive. Not that the dealer means to be deceptive; it's just that s/he expects readers to be familiar with bookman's terminology. For example, the following four descriptions refer to hardbound books WITHOUT dust jackets:
Most dealers use words that refer, more or less, mostly less, to the terms for describing condition from AB Bookman's Weekly. Be sure you understand them before you search the listings.