From The Editor

by Craig Stark

#125, 14 July 2008

Chris Lowenstein, BookThink's Accidental Antiquarian, stops by this week with Part I of a report on issuing her first catalogue. One paragraph in particular, I think, merits two readings, so I'm putting it here:

"Every time I visited a bookseller or went to a book fair, I asked if the bookseller had a print catalogue. I took these catalogues home and read them for homework. I read catalogues that described Beat poetry, Western Americana, books written by and about women, books about cattle ranching, books of import to the Mormon faith, early incunabula, manuscript items, and the illustrations of N.C. Wyeth. I learned a lot about each subject just reading the descriptions of the books for sale. Many booksellers choose their finest books in a particular subject, and in a detailed catalogue description, their knowledge and command of that subject shines."

There's an important bookselling principle embodied in this.

Finally, I've received numerous requests this year from readers to do something with one of more controversial issues I've encountered in online bookselling - at least in recent memory. If the name Tyson Motsinger means nothing to you, march straight over to the Amazon forums, type "Nebraska Books" or "Athens, Ohio" into the search box and start reading. Last week, in an effort to better understand reported problems originating from some of Nebraska Books' transactions with Amazon third-party booksellers, I interviewed Barry Major, Chief Operating Officer of Nebraska Books, and Nate Rempe, Vice President of Internet Strategy. I won't get into any more detail before we publish the interview, but I will say that I was genuinely impressed with both their candor and sensitivity to this issue. My hope is that their answers will shift the conversation to a much less hysterical level - a place where problems can potentially be solved.

I'd also like to repeat an offer I made a few days ago on the Amazon forums. If you're an Amazon Marketplace seller who has experienced significant problems with Nebraska Books and would like to get your perspective on the table, please feel free to contact me. I'm more than willing to present the fullest picture possible on BookThink. I only ask that you approach me with the transparency necessary for me to vett your experiences. The ultimate aim is to do some good, and this won't happen unless we keep the conversation going.

Email me at

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