From the Editor

by Craig Stark

#150, 8 November 2010

More on producing catalogs today from our Accidental Antiquarian, Chris Lowenstein - specifically, what makes a good one. Click here if you missed Part I of her series.

Speaking of catalogs, I received my Bonham's catalog this week for the December 2, 2010 sale - "The American Experience: 1630-1890." And is it ever luscious.

If you haven't heard, this is the New York / San Francisco sale of Bruce McKinney's multi-million dollar collection of early Americana. McKinney is founder of Americana Exchange a website featuring, among other biblio-resources, an extensive database of historical pricing. What makes the Bonham's catalog especially intriguing is that descriptions of lots include the original dates, venues and prices of McKinney's acquisitions - all purchased over the past several decades. Once this sale is concluded, therefore, we'll get instant insight into today's marketplace and how it compares to pre-Internet days. And everything will sell because McKinney is flying without a net: There are no reserves.

Of special interest is McKinney's eloquent preface to the descriptions, which concludes with this:

"Lest anyone wonder about my intentions - I continue to collect. In this, the final quarter of my life, I collect that which first attracted me to old books - the Hudson Valley in the State of New York. It is where I acquired a passion for books and it is where the embers long banked, will flame until the final hammer falls."

As always, I encourage new and less experienced booksellers to study quality auction catalogs at every opportunity. There's much to be learned from them, and they retain their importance over time as references. This catalog in particular is exceptionally rich in descriptive and illustrative detail and even includes collation formulae of early titles. An electronic version is available here at no charge.

Also up today is Science Fiction Editor Tim Doyle's Part II of his series on purchasing book collections. Click here if you missed Part I.

Finally, I'd like to remind our readers who are looking ahead and proactively seeking to meet the bookselling challenges of the near future that BookThink provides numerous resources to help you both to get up to speed and gain an all-important advantage over booksellers who are content to do things the easy way - and the easy way, believe me, is going away.

These resources include:

  1. BookThink's Guide to Online Bookselling assesses where bookselling is today and presents a set of working methods and the essential knowledge associated with them that, if applied, will enable booksellers to succeed in the coming years - especially beginning booksellers and intermediate booksellers who have seen their businesses decline. As commodity bookselling heads south, commodity booksellers will soon be faced with two choices - get out of the business or move in a different direction. This, then, is a guide to moving in a different direction. Call this direction antiquarian bookselling if you like, but those of you who have been following our series, "Bookselling in the 21st Century," will agree that there's substantially more to it than this.

    Non-subscribers may purchase chapters individually as they are published or, to subscribe, purchase the complete guide up front at a substantial savings and automatically receive monthly chapters as they become available. Price for the complete guide, which may be purchased immediately here, is $99.99; individual issues are $9.99 each. To date, an Introduction and Chapters 1-3 have been issued and will be sent to you as a bundle upon purchase.

  2. BookThink's Bookseller's Author Reports are issued monthly in PDF and optional print format and focus on those authors (and sometimes publishers) who present the most ready opportunities for profit today - in other words, authors whose books are commonly encountered and have good resale potential. These in-depth guides include biographical information pertinent to booksellers, autograph samples, a detailed market analysis with pricing indications, the author's bibliography with first edition issue points and cover photographs - and more. Annual PDF subscriptions are $79.99 (a savings of $39.89 over purchasing 12 individual issues) and may be purchased here. Click here to purchase individual PDF issues at $9.99 or print issues at $14.99 ppd. Print subscriptions are available at $99.99. To date, reports on Sue Grafton, Thomas Pynchon and Cormac McCarthy have been issued and may, if desired, be included in your subscription.

  3. Previous published issues of BookThink's Gold Edition, BookThink's 50/50 and BookThink's Quarterly Market Report are available for purchase as individual issues or packages. IMPORTANT: Please note that all purchases of individual issues may be credited at any time toward the purchase of packages. Click here to purchase.


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