Arabic and Oriental Booksellers
If you would like to find out where copies of a particular book are located, or check whether a given text has been printed, you should refer to one of the major article databases through the Marriott Library.
Databases like WorldCat contain a vast number of records for printed books in many languages, including Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, etc.; The bibliographic records in these databases are being contributed mainly by North American libraries, and thus reflect their holdings, but other major libraries throughout the world are also adding their records. Even if our library does not own a copy of the work you want, you may be able to borrow it from another library via the Interlibrary loan.
- Because of their broad coverage, bibliographical databases are useful tools for verifying information in bibliographies, and for checking whether a particular text has ever been printed.
- When searching, please remember to drop initial articles, and to use the appropriate transliteration scheme. North American and UK libraries use the ALA-LC transliteration tables of the Library of Congress.
Relatively few second-hand and antiquarian booksellers specialize in books from or on the Middle East. The booksellers on the following list are such specialists; they all offer a broad range of material on the Middle East and Islam, and issue new catalogues periodically. Smitskamp in the Netherlands probably has the largest selection of rare books, and can provide many of the classic editions printed in ninetennth-century France and Germany.
The various search engines for antiquarian books are a convenient tool for searching the catalogues of several non-specialist booksellers simultaneously. Some of the most comprehensive search engines are:
- abebooks (a general search engine, but apparently dominated by North American sellers)
- chapitre (French titles)
- livre-rare-book (searches the stock of antiquarian bookshops in France)
- das Zentrale Verzeichnis Antiquarischer Bücher (for German titles)
Arabic, Persian etc.
Although they are not as famous as their North American or European counterparts, most Middle Eastern online bookshops are just as safe and remarkably efficient: they offer secure billing, and their shipments are reliable and swift. One usually pays in dollars, and although the prices are slightly higher than in Lebanon or Egypt, they are not exorbitant. Unfortunately, shipping charges tend to be high.
The websites of these bookshops are in Arabic, of course. You will have to enable Arabic display in your browser to view them. In order to search for books, you will have to key in a search string in Arabic script. To facilitate searching for users without Arabic support on their PC, vendors often supply a virtual keyboard. Some vendors also offer searches in Latin characters, but results are usually unreliable because the transliteration schemes used are haphazard.
Like Western publishers, Middle Eastern publishing houses also offer their products online (see below)
This list includes only some of the larger publishers that offer an online ordering service. Ordering directly from them can be cheaper, but can be more complicated (as is the case, for example, with some Syrian publishing houses).
Middle East Library
Leonard C. Chiarelli, Ph.D
Middle East Librarian
Monday - Friday: 8 am - 4 pm
Closed Saturday & Sunday
Image from Saheefe-ye Hasti