Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2011 Issue

Auction Trends Updated:  Reality

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A low sell through rate is an uncomfortable sign

One factor affecting sales is price conformity.  One dealer suggested they felt pressure from other dealers to maintain pricing parity even though sales in their under $1,000 material were slow.  They wondered aloud if there is a solution.   There are in fact two answers.  The first is - dealers are posting, in some cases under assumed names, their slow selling material on eBay and at traditional auctions hoping to close it out.  The second is - our strategy for pooling interested buyers with sellers to create a sense of immediacy based on aggregated interest and our statistics on probability of appearance.  Both approaches are going to be employed because they are both going to work.  Our approach will achieve better outcomes for the seriously rare and outright important material.   The disadvantage for dealers is that anyone can offer their material in this way.  They get to sell but they don’t get to control or constrain the market.  It will be fair and the outcomes natural, not contrived.  Given that dealers have been trying to control prices since Gutenberg first announced that the ink was dry, there will be resistance that will perversely limit availability and thereby raise realizations for those who begin to sell in this manner.

 

All items in the Americana Exchange Database, Books for Sale and Upcoming Auctions now include tracking links.  It’s free to anyone.  When you first click to TRACK you’ll be prompted to sign-in because we can’t report matches if we don’t know your email address. 

In the coming months we’ll begin to show the tracking interest by each item, and automatically notify those who have expressed interest as well as those who post.  This will help to regulate what is an unruly and inefficient market and help to answer the question one dealer recently asked.  “How do I sell my book for a fair market price without undermining other dealers who have the same book and are probably asking too much?”  The answer is that you offer those items to those who express interest to buy them and then you negotiate. 
     

It is also possible to be proactive in other ways.  On AE we are working to increase realizations by providing both more information and images to an ever-larger audience.  Both PBA and New England Auctions included images in their recent auctions and it will only help.  Dealers are encouraged to do the same.  It’s encouraged and there are no incremental costs.

So the trends continue to suggest decline even as the charts are beginning to flatten.  Recovery for pedestrian rarities seems unlikely anytime soon.  There’s too many of them and every indication that large quantities will change hands in the next ten years because so many of these hands grow frail.   The only solution is to reestablish interest in collecting.  Tracking is our approach and it’s free.  If we are wrong it costs you nothing.  If it works you owe us nothing.  From the beginning I have been an advocate for collectors be they individuals or institutions.   This I think is a better solution than sneaking the material onto eBay under assumed names.


Posted On: 2011-02-03 00:00
User Name: manta

apart from rare items that tend to set their own prices most hi end and general stock are completely over priced by most dealers with a few (succes


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