• <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. May 31, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 31:</b> Simcoe (John Graves). Plan of the Province of Upper Canada with part of the Adjacent Countries, manuscript map… with numerous contemporary annotations. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 31:</b> Ramusio (Giovanni Battista). <i>Delle Navigationi et Viaggi,</i> 3 vol., mixed edition, 3 double-page engraved maps and 7 folding woodcut maps, Venice, Giunti, 1613. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 31:</b> Dickens (Charles). <i>A Christmas Carol,</i> first edition, first issue, Chapman & Hall, 1843. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. May 31, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 31:</b> Book of Hours. Hours of the Virgin [Use of Rome] in Latin, miniature illuminated manuscript on vellum with 6 full-page miniatures and 6 large initials with borders, Flanders, [2nd quarter of 15th century]. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 31:</b> G.K. Chesterton archive. Collection of poems, drawings, letters and cards sent to Enid Simon, 1920s. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 31:</b> Pasternak (Boris). <i>Doktor Zhivago</i> original typescript, 2 vol., with manuscript corrections and insertions by the author, the George Katkov copy, c.1956. £100,000 to £150,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. May 31, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 31:</b> Tolkien (J.R.R.). <i>The Hobbit,</i> first edition, first impression, 1937. £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 31:</b> Milton (John). <i>Paradise Lost & Paradise Regain'd,</i> 2 vol., one of 10 copies printed on vellum, Cresset Press, 1931. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 31:</b> Electricity and the vacuum.- Guericke (Otto von). <i>Experimenta nova (ut vocantur) Magdeburgica de Vacuo Spatio,</i> first edition; bound with <i>Philosophia Universa de Microcosmo</i>. £12,000 to £16,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 31:</b> [The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia ...], vignette title and 42 plates from the deluxe subscriber's edition, 1842-1849 (43). £7,000 to £10,000
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg: Rare Books Auction on May 28th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 28:</b> Book of Hours. Workshop Vrelant, around 1460-70. Est: € 30,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 28:</b> J. J. Marinoni, <i>De Astronomica specula,</i> 1745. Est: € 12,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 28:</b> C. S. Lewis, <i>The Chronicles of Narnia,</i> 1950-56. Est: € 7,500
    <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg: Rare Books Auction on May 28th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 28:</b> G. W. Knorr, <i>Regnum florae,</i> 1750. Est:<br>€ 15,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 28:</b> A. M. S. Boethius, <i>De philosophico consolatu,</i> 1501. Est: € 8,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 28:</b> J. Joyce, <i>Ulysses,</i> 1922. Est: € 5,000
    <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg: Rare Books Auction on May 28th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 28:</b> Ornaments by H. Vogeler, 1900. Est:<br>€ 4,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 28:</b> <i>Biblia Germanica,</i> 1490. Est: € 15,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 28:</b> F. M. Regenfuss, <i>Auserlesne Schnecken und Muscheln,</i> 1758. Est: € 18,000
    <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg: Rare Books Auction on May 28th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 28:</b> Einband Henry van de Velde, 1929. Est: € 4,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 28:</b> <i>Hortus Sanitatis,</i> 1517. Est: € 12,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 28:</b> R. Crevel and J. Miró, 1957. Est: € 3,500

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2013 Issue

AltaVista RIP

Altavista98

Alta Vista during its heyday.

This is not a story about books. There... now that I have lost most of my readers, I can write about whatever I want. This is about how access to information changes. Once slowly, changes now flash by as quickly as you can unwind an 8-track tape. And yes, there are comparisons to bookselling.

The 1990s began with small bookshops trying to fight off the large chains. It ended with the chains trying to fend off internet sellers. It all happens so fast. A few become large, the rest either disappear or find a niche where they can outperform the giants. There really isn't much other space. Evolve or die applies to bookselling as surely as it does to dinosaurs. And to the internet. We are entering another time of change for bookselling, but that is an issue for another day. For now, we will take a look back at an early giant of the internet. RIP, AltaVista.

My own introduction to the internet came in the second half of the 1990s. There were lots of alternatives if you wanted to search that vast universe of information out there you never could access before. An internet search was filled with excitement then. Basically, there were two types of search sites. There were the directories. Frequently compiled by hand, they placed links to sites under topic headings. Yahoo had the most notable one, but there was LookSmart, Overture and thousands of smaller ones, the bigger ones trying to extract a fee from the sites they listed, the others hoping to get by on advertising. Does anyone ever use a directory any more?

The second way to search the internet was through a search engine. There were lots, each with its own formula. America Online (AOL), which was the largest online service provider in the era of dial-up, and their largest competitor, CompuServe, also provided search. So did early dial-up rival Prodigy. Non-service provider search engines were all over. Yahoo had a search engine as well as a directory. And there was Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, MSN, Snap, Ask Jeeves, HotBot, Inktomi, Webcrawler, and many others I have forgotten. But, the best of the lot was AltaVista. Most of the others were web portals, as Yahoo and AOL still are today. They provided news and everything else, search being just one feature. Not AltaVista. They offered search, that's all, but were the best at it. Sound familiar? Whatever their formula, and each search engine had its algorithm, AltaVista provided the best matches. I don't recall anyone ever turning AltaVista into a verb. I never said I was “Altavista-ing” anything, but I AltaVistaed a lot of topics in the late 1990s.

AltaVista was born in 1996. It was the child of Digital Equipment Corporation, another great tech name from the past. It moved on to Compaq in 1998 when DEQ was sold, then to CMGI. Remember CMGI? Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, was originally named CMGI Field. That's how big CMGI was. The Patriots never played a game on CMGI field. By the time construction was completed, the internet bubble burst and CMGI could no longer afford the naming rights. Those rights moved on to safety razor manufacturer Gillette. What an ironic backward twist of technology that was. In 2003, AltaVista moved on to Overture, which itself was taken over by Yahoo later that year. It has remained there ever since. At least until July 8, 2013. That is when Yahoo shut it down. Rest in peace, AltaVista.

At the turn of the millennium, one of my jobs involved finding websites, directories and search engines to post links to my employer's website. Search engines might not know your website existed if you didn't tell them. One day in performing my AltaVista searches for sites I didn't know, I came across a new search engine with a funny name. It was called “Google.” Obviously, you can guess the rest of this story. AltaVista had turned itself into a web portal like Yahoo and AOL, Lycos and Excite, its owners believing there was a greater audience for these multi-purpose sites. Google was like the original AltaVista. Even today, while Google offers much more, its home page remains a simple search page, just as it was when I first stumbled across it. AltaVista later returned to simplicity, but by then it was too late.

Why did Google become such a huge success, eventually crowding everyone else either out of the business or to minor status? Today, Bing, successor to Live, successor to MSN, still competes. Parent Microsoft can afford to compete. It is a distant second. If someone else still competes, it escapes me. AOL uses Google searches; Yahoo uses Bing's searches. Truth be told, in recent years AltaVista just used Yahoo/Bing searches. Google swamped everyone else. How? They used a formula that determined which sites were most popular, rather than those which just matched your search terms most often. I didn't know about algorithms at the time. What I did notice was that I got better matches, better even than AltaVista. I switched. I don't recall anyone else I knew knowing about Google then. I had just stumbled upon it and found it significantly better. Obviously, in the years ahead, just about everyone else had the same experience. It was noticeably better, enough so to switch. Microsoft and Bing offer a capable search engine, but they have never been able to match that first Google experience, no matter how much they tell us their searches are better. Maybe they are better as claimed, but they just don't seem that different. You need a reason to change.

What does this have to do with bookselling? Not much directly. It's just a reminder of how quickly things can change. The heyday of AltaVista in many ways matched the heyday of internet bookselling. The internet opened customers all over the world to every small town bookseller. Dozens of book listing sites appeared. The Advanced Book Exchange (now AbeBooks), Alibris, successor to the pioneering Interloc, and Amazon were the largest and still are. Most of the others either disappeared or soldier on in irrelevancy, though European ZVAB, later arrival Biblio, and a few local sites are still significant. However, none can perform quite as they did when internet bookselling was new. Buyers were accessing this incredible new medium for the first time and filling their shelves with books they never thought they would find. Meanwhile, the price of listing was incredibly cheap, often just a small percentage of the sales price if, and only if, the book sold. Today, listing is more expensive, the number of books listed competing for attention far greater, and sales harder to come by. It's no longer easy. The bookseller needs to adapt. Adapt or perish. Adapt or become AltaVista.  


Posted On: 2013-08-01 00:00
User Name: PeterReynolds

I used AlltheWeb.com a.k.a. Fast.no . It was better than Google in Google's early days. It had a larger number of results and I don't think Google had as good previewing of sites. See http://web.archive.org/web/20061227221338/http://fastsearch.com=63&amid=1383


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 5:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Penguin Convention,</i> watercolor, cover for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1977. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 5:</b> Ludwig Bemelmans, <i>Agreed! No whiskey anywhere is more deluxe than Walker's DeLuxe,</i> pen, ink & watercolor, 1957. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 5:</b> Charles Schulz, <i>Do you like Beethoven?,</i> pen & ink, 9-panel <i>Peanuts</i> comic, 1970. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 5:</b> Russell Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor & gouache, cover for <i>Nancy Drew,</i> 1944. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 5:</b> Arthur Rackham, <i>Danaë & the Infant Perseus,</i> watercolor, ink & wash, for Hawthorne's <i>A Wonder Book,</i> 1922. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 5:</b> Tom Lovell, <i>I believe in magic too,</i> oil on canvas, published in <i>Woman's Home Companion,</i> 1947. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 5:</b> Enoch Bolles, <i>With Love...,</i> watercolor & gouache, cover for <i>Wow!</i> magazine, 1931. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 5:</b><br>Rick Meyerowitz & Maira Kalman, <i>New Yorkistan,</i> pen, ink & watercolor sketch for a <i>New Yorker cover,</i> 2001. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 5:</b> Jessie Willcox Smith, <i>Touching,</i> watercolor for <i>The Five Senses</i> by Angela M. Keyes, 1911. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 5:</b> Edward Gorey, <i>ABA 75,</i> watercolor & ink, cover for <i>Publisher's Weekly,</i> 1975. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 5:</b> Aubrey Beardsley, <i>Shelter,</i> pen & ink, for <i>Bon-Mots,</i> 1892. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 5:</b> Tedd Arnold, <i>I think it was three days ago...,</i> colored pencil & watercolor, for <i>Parts,</i> 1996. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <b>Chiswick Auctions: Modern First Editions, Illustrated Books & Limited Editions. May 30, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Hammett (Dashiell). <i>The Maltese Falcon,</i> FIRST EDITION. A very good copy of this most influential detective fiction novel. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Hemingway (Ernest). <i>In Our Time,</i> FIRST EDITION, NUMBER 137 OF 170 COPIES on Rives handmade paper. £15,000 to £18,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Hemingway (Ernest). <i>A Farewell to Arms,</i> FIRST EDITION, inscribed by the author to Mike Murphy, a Hemingway biographer and scholar. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Modern First Editions, Illustrated Books & Limited Editions. May 30, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Kerouac (Jack). <i>On the Road,</i> FIRST EDITION, New York, Viking, 1957. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Ransome (Arthur). <i>Swallows and Amazons,</i> FIRST EDITION, ownership inscription to half title. Only 2,000 copies of the first edition printed. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Sewell (Anna). <i>Black Beauty: His Grooms and Companions. The Autobiography of a Horse. Translated from the original Equine,</i> FIRST EDITION, engraved frontispiece. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Modern First Editions, Illustrated Books & Limited Editions. May 30, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Capa (Robert). <i>Omaha Beach D-Day, June 6th, 1944,</i> gelatine silver print, printed under the direct supervision of Cornell Capa, 40 x 50.5 cm. £3,000 to £5,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Cartier-Bresson (Henri). 'Loudres – Pilgrims Assemble', silver print, stamps and annotations on verso, very slight scratch, 170 x 240 mm, 1950. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Carroll, Lewis [Dodgson, Charles Lutwidge]. <i>The Nursery Alice,</i> FIRST EDITION, a very rare inscribed, dedication copy. £8,000 to £10,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Modern First Editions, Illustrated Books & Limited Editions. May 30, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Potter (Beatrix). <i>The Tale of Peter Rabbit,</i> FIRST EDITION, FIRST PRINTING, limited to 250 copies [with] the FIRST PUBLISHED EDITION. £12,000 to £15,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Wells (H. G.). <i>War of the Worlds,</i> original Danish manuscript, the text written out in block script ink, with over 620 original drawings in ink and watercolour. £1,800 to £2,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Toulouse-Lautrec (Henri de).- Clemenceau (Georges). <i>Au Pied de Sinai,</i> NUMBER 104 OF 355 COPIES, with the suite of 10 lithographs by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in 2 states. £1,500 to £2,000
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Sotheby’s Books & Manuscripts<br>Marcel Proust – Collection Marie-Claude Mante<br>Auction Paris 24 May 2018</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, May 24:</b> Marc Chagall. <i>Daphnis & Chloé</i>. Paris, Tériade, 1961. 42 original lithographs. One of the 10 copies for the collaborators. 80,000-120,000 €
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, May 24:</b> [Marcel Proust] — Gaston Gallimard. Very important letters to Marcel Proust. 1912-1922. 100,000-150,000 €
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, May 24:</b> JESUITS. <i>Relation de ce qui s’est passé en la Nouvelle France en 1635</i> […] 1672. Period calf binding. Very rare set of letters about life in the French territories among warring Indian tribes. 12,000-18,000 €
    <b>Sotheby’s Books & Manuscripts<br>Marcel Proust – Collection Marie-Claude Mante<br>Auction Paris 24 May 2018</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, May 24:</b> Gustave Flaubert. <i>Madame Bovary</i>. Paris, Michel Lévy Frères, 1857. One of the few deluxe copies, with inscription to Adolphe Gaïffe and a letter. 30,000-50,000 €
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, May 24:</b> A. von Humboldt. <i>Essai politique sur le Royaume de la Nouvelle Espagne.</i> Paris, 1811. Period binding. Complete with the large California/Mexico map. 10,000-15,000 €
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, May 24:</b> [Affaire Dreyfus] — Georges Clemenceau. <i>Démosthène</i>. Paris, Plon-Nourrit et Cie, 1926. Exceptional copy with an inscription to Mathieu Dreyfus, Alfred Dreyfus’ brother. 8,000-<br>12,000 €
    <b>Sotheby’s Books & Manuscripts<br>Marcel Proust – Collection Marie-Claude Mante<br>Auction Paris 24 May 2018</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, May 24:</b> Guillaume Apollinaire. <i>Les trois Don Juan</i>. 1914. Unpublished inscription to Madeleine Pagès and 2 original drawings. 25,000-35,000 €
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, May 24:</b> Marcel Duchamp. <i>L.H.O.O.Q. shaved</i>. [New York, 1965]. One of the 100 deluxe signed copies. With an autographed envelope. 15,000-20,000 €
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, May 24:</b> Francis Bacon — Michel Leiris. <i>Miroir de la tauromachie</i>. [Paris], Daniel Lelong, [1990]. With 4 signed lithographs. 40,000-60,000 €
    <b>Sotheby’s Books & Manuscripts<br>Marcel Proust – Collection Marie-Claude Mante<br>Auction Paris 24 May 2018</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, May 24:</b> Gilbert & George. <i>The Red Sculpture Album</i>. [Londres, Gilbert & George], 1975. One of the 100 existing copies, signed by both of the artists, comprised of 11 original photographs. 10,000-15,000 €
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, May 24:</b> Pablo Picasso — Honoré de Balzac. <i>Chef-d’œuvre inconnu</i>. Paris, Ambroise Vollard, 1931. One of the 65 deluxe copies on Japan paper, with an extra suite of the etchings. 35,000-<br>45,000 €
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, May 24:</b> Marcel Proust. <i>Les Sources sur Loir</i>. Ca 1907-1908. Handwritten manuscript. Rough draft of one of the more beautiful passages of Swann’s Way. 30,000-50,000 €
  • <b>Archives International Auctions: U.S., Chinese & Worldwide Banknotes, Scripophily & Coins. May 23, 2018</b>
    <b>Archives International, May 23:</b> Chinese-American Bank of Commerce, 1920 "Harbin" Branch Issue Rarity. $5, P-S231s1, S/M#C271-3.5b, Specimen banknote. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Archives International, May 23:</b> Deutsch-Asiatische Bank, 1907 "Peking" Branch High Grade Rarity. 5 Taels, P-S280r S/M#T101-11b, Remainder Banknote. $17,000 to $22,000
    <b>Archives International, May 23:</b> Deutsch-Asiatische Bank, 1907, "Tsingtau" Branch Issue Rarity. $1, P-1a S/M#T101-40, Issued banknote. $8,000 to $16,000
    <b>Archives International Auctions: U.S., Chinese & Worldwide Banknotes, Scripophily & Coins. May 23, 2018</b>
    <b>Archives International, May 23:</b> Spanish American War - Three Per Cent Loan of 1898, $20 Bond. Issued and uncanceled. $6,000 to $10,000
    <b>Archives International, May 23:</b> Winnemucca, NV - $5 Ty. 1, The First NB of Winnemucca, Ch# 3575, Fr#1800-1. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Archives International, May 23:</b> National Banknote Assortment of Original 1st Charter, Plain Back and Date Back Issues. Lot of 6 notes, Includes Pennsylvania Nationals, First National Bank of Selins Grove, 1865, $1… $3,200 to $4,400
    <b>Archives International Auctions: U.S., Chinese & Worldwide Banknotes, Scripophily & Coins. May 23, 2018</b>
    <b>Archives International, May 23:</b> People's Bank of China, 1950 Issue Banknote. 50,000 Yuan, P-855 KYJ-C157a S/M#C282-, Issued banknote. $7,000 to $12,500
    <b>Archives International, May 23:</b> Pei-Yang Tientsin Bank, ND (ca.1910) Remainder Banknote. $3, P-S2527 S/M#P35-11. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Archives International, May 23:</b> Palestine Foundation Fund - Keren Hayesod Specimen Sacrifice Bond 1922. $1,000, Specimen Bond, "For the Up building of Palestine as a Homeland for the Jewish People". $1,500 to $2,500

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