This article is from the Books FAQ, by Evelyn C. Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
The American "Books in Print" is not available for free searching
on the Internet. "Books in Print", a compendium of basic information
about currently available books from U.S. publishers (excluding Bibles,
government documents, and some small-press titles), is available in
both electronic and paper format. Its publisher, R. R. Bowker, makes a
lot of money from its database. Bowker isn't about to give that
information away for free (IMO).
Bookpages used to have "British Books In Print" up, but when it was
acquired by amazon.com, that went away.
If by this question one means "Can I use "Books in Print" for
free?" or "Can I search "Books in Print" via the Internet?" the answer
to both of those questions is yes.
How to use "Books in Print" for free: Go to almost any bookstore,
public library, or academic library and use it there. Or, you can
probably call your nearest library and get information over the
telephone, as long as you don't overdo it--for example, asking for
every edition of every work by Mark Twain.
How to use "Books in Print" on the Internet: It's available for a
fee from online vendors such as Dialog and from commercial online
services like Compuserve (the command is "Go Books" for the British as
well as the U.S. "Books in Print"; the charge is $2 a search). In both
cases, you will need an account and password, and you will be charged
by the minute or the search. Using Dialog requires knowing the basics
of online searching and Dialog commands. (In the U.S., call
1-800-3-DIALOG; on the Internet telnet to dialog.com.) "Books in Print"
is also available on CD-ROM from R. R. Bowker. It's expensive and
only for the heavy-duty user.
Other big databases : Large library catalogs are excellent sources
for bibliographic data if you want to find out who wrote a certain
book, verify a title when you only have some of the words in the title,
or get a list of books on a certain subject. What they won't tell you
is whether a book is in print and how much it costs. A on-line
collection of these can be found at telnet site pac.carl.org.
Library of Congress http://lcweb.loc.gov/catalog/
select Library of Congress online
(Note the Library of Congress' online catalog is not complete
for titles published before 1968.)
Other library catalogs http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/Libweb/
gopher yaleinfo.yale.edu 7700
select Library Catalogs World-wide
Book vendors are another source for book information. Several
vendors make available large catalogs on the Internet. These will tell
you whether a book is currently available and what it costs. See the
FAQ on online bookstores regularly posted to rec.arts.books.
[Provided by Robert Teeter (email@example.com).]