From the Editor

by Craig Stark

#11, 2 February 2004

Are you making the move from selling average to better than average books? Perhaps even to high-dollar books? If so, you may have already come up against a common roadblock: lack of knowledge. Intuition - that is, using intuition as a basis for making buying decisions - can take you far on the path to better sales, but for consistent and prolonged success you'll eventually need knowledge as well. The more the better; and oddly enough, the more knowledge you have, the better your intuition will be.

Another roadblock: even if you recognize the need for knowledge and are willing to pursue it, it isn't always readily available. By this I mean that you may not know where to go to get it, and even if you do, costs may be prohibitive. As magnificent a resource as the Internet is, it's by no means a bottomless reservoir of bookselling knowledge. Much pertinent information, especially as it pertains to edition states, simply isn't to be had online.

Books about books - more specifically, books with information on edition states - are certainly available for purchase, but as anybody who has set out to assemble a useful and even marginally comprehensive library of bibliographic texts knows, costs add up fast. For the most part, not only are copies of many references in short supply (and therefore expensive), but also, and worse, there's no end to them. Yes, some general bibliographies exist, good ones, but sometimes definitive information is contained only in author-specific bibliographies. Nobody can buy them all.

One often overlooked source of information is libraries. Some libraries assemble extraordinary bibliographic collections. While accessing libraries usually requires an in-person visit - and this can be damned inconvenient - if we're talking about obtaining vital information needed to properly authenticate a book worth thousands, I think most of us would be willing to expend the effort. In her article "Familiar Strangers: Taking Book Buying to the Top," BookThink Contributing Editor Pamela Palmer explores the use of libraries for first edition identification in today's BookThinker. In addition she explains the use of other library resources for identifying publications that may not otherwise be known to exist - a key to building a productive, inventory-producing wants list.

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Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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