Special Announcements

by Craig Stark

#159 Special Report, 16 January 2012

I've said this before, but it bears repeating: Books that have remained in print over many decades can teach us a great deal about bookselling. Typically, they exist in multiple editions with a wide variety of bindings - and often with continuously revised and expanded (not to mention translated) content. Books this popular are nearly always collected, and the complexity they exhibit demands that we learn as much as we can about their publishing history. No small feat, sometimes. But it's this knowledge that will help us identify their edition state, assess their value to collectors (if any), properly describe them, and otherwise make it possible for us to gainfully buy and sell them time and time again. More generally, this knowledge will also give us an expanded, sometimes prophetic view of what happens (or will happen) to books with much narrower publishing histories that show promise of staying power.

The "time and time again" aspect of this is especially important. Successful bookselling necessarily involves books that pass through our hands once or twice or so in our careers; but it also involves bread-and-butter books that we sell and sell again, many times over. In fact, the more it involves these latter books, the more consistent our sales will likely be.

Not surprisingly, some of these bread-and-butter books are cookbooks. They're everywhere, for one thing; and for another, some of them attract huge, passionate followings. Separate a treasured cookbook from a cook, and guess what? A collector is born, and the money necessary to re-purchase it often becomes secondary to its acquisition. Good news for us.

BookThink's latest Author Report (to be issued a week from today) features the author of a landmark American cookbook - Irma Rombauer. Her Joy of Cooking, privately and quietly printed in 1931, today makes more noise than almost any other cookbook, and opportunities for buying and selling it abound. However, given a publishing history that spans some eight decades, you need to know your stuff to make this work for you. The purpose of our Author Reports is to provide this information - relevant biographical and publishing information, autograph examples, detailed market analyses of specifically what you should buy and what it's likely to sell for, bibliographies that assist in the identification process, and more.

Today's feature article is an abridgement of the complete Irma Rombauer report, minus the marketing analysis and bibliography. It may be purchased next week. Previously published Author Reports may be purchased here.

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Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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