Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2004 Issue

David M. Lesser: Catalogue 900<br>The first electronically footnoted catalogue

Lecat

Electronic footnoted catalogues will find their place among printed catalogues and online listings.


By Bruce McKinney

David M. Lesser of Woodbridge, Connecticut, has prepared Catalogue 900, a full text footnoted electronic catalogue of printed Americana, that is presented here (AE Link) and on his own site (www.lesserbooks.com). In this new format footnotes containing a substantial portion of a book's history are contained in a single link within the book lot description. If the book seems interesting clicking on the footnote opens a pop-up window of related references each of which further links to the full text in a particular source. It's an important advance in how books are described. Printed catalogues have enjoyed an illustrious career and they will certainly continue to do so. But they are relatively fixed in their formats, bound by printing and paper conventions and rising costs to prepare, print and mail. These are the walls within which booksellers work. These are the constraints that booksellers accept. The internet has freed book dealers to list their books in more efficient ways electronically but there has been no consensus or impetus to do more than duplicate printed descriptions in a universally available and comparative form.

Mr. Lesser's Catalogue 900, simply by ignoring the restraints of convention and using more of the tools available on the net today, takes bookseller catalogue presentation to a higher level combining listings, images and often complete and complex footnotes. In many cases these footnotes dwarf the standard bookseller description adding depth and complexity to provide information and entice interest. Such presentations invite the reader to become more informed. What has hitherto been the buyer's responsibility to research may in time become the seller's responsibility to inform.

Good and bad decisions about the purchase and sale of books will continue to be made until the end of time. But with the addition of electronic footnotes buyers become further empowered. In time the field will find a larger audience of prospective collectors who, when offered very complete information, will be attracted by the challenge first to understand and then to acquire. For both buyers and sellers FootNotes empower. For further information click here!

Here then is Mr. Lesser's Catalogue 900 (AE Link ).

Rare Book Monthly

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