Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2004 Issue

An Important Tool: Website Traffic Ratings

Websearch1

The Websearch toolbar is automatically fitted into your internet toolbar. Rank is shown along with a star rating.


By Bruce McKinney

Everyday on the internet when people visit sites the contacts are recorded. Data is not being maintained on who visits which site (unless you have spy software on your system that, with or without your permission, is recording this information), only the "hits"or electronic contacts are recorded. These counts are tabulated by various companies and are available for free. They tell us where the traffic is on the net. These counts do not directly convert into dollars because they reflect only visits, not interaction but they are nevertheless very useful, particularly for gauging comparative activity. Think of them as heartbeats.

These days there are millions of sites. Keeping count of how many "contacts" are occurring at each of them is a daunting task. Anyone who uses the Google toolbar can have a Page Rank indicator on their screen that shows how Google rates your site based on a variety of factors. This is more a qualitative and quantitative ranking.

Another toolbar option for activity measurement is available from www.websearch.com and it is very useful. It only works on Microsoft operating systems however. For sites among the top 500,000 on the net they provide a comparative numeral rating. They aren’t able to record every click on the web but they record enough clicks, from a variety of search engines, that they can estimate both who is in the first 500,000 and what their relative rankings are. At the end of this article I’ll show you how to add this toolbar option to your browser if you are interested to try it.

Among the auction houses here are ratings recorded on June 27th using WebSearch's software. As you read this they will have already changed at least marginally. As in golf the low score wins: the higher the rating the lower the number. eBay, the online auction juggernaut, is by far the highest ranked firm in this sector. Their formula is unique. They sell thousands of generally but not exclusively lower priced books every day and books are only a small part of what they sell. In addition to these auctions houses there are more than 40 others that are not currently receiving a rating.

Auctions:
eBay 8
Sotheby's24,437
Christie's27,530
Butterfield's 46,280
Skinner, Inc. 151,318
Bonham's153,401
PBA (Pacific)174,821
Doyle, New York 209,773
Old World Auctions 247,484
PIASA 258,514
Dorotheum 352,450
Sanford Alderfer 385,666
Freeman's 411,830
Holabird 430,629
Swann452,899
Heritage Map Museum 462,800
Eldred's 496,349
Bloomsbury Not Rated
Waverly AuctionsNot Rated
John's Western GalleryNot Rated

Of the traditional auction houses most sell other things besides books so PBA, as a book site is actually a stronger "book" site than is first apparent because all the houses above it are also selling other things and receiving some of their 'hits' for them. Frequency of sales is also a factor. An auction house that conducts twelve auctions a year should eventually have many more hits than an auction house that holds six. The scale of a business will ultimately be reflected in these counts. Most sites are not rated, simply because they are not yet within the first 500,000 in terms of activity. Many in time will be.

These WebSearch ratings reflect activity over several months, not only the present moment so improvement and decline register slowly. As well, every day thousands of sites are internally revised to increase their competitiveness. This is a process of endless tinkering. Successful websites are snakes, not statues.

A low rating (a high number) may also reflect site problems. Without naming names we'll just say that all sites do not perform equally. Some websites are using state of the art software and others only cans and wires. Visitors believe they can identify under-engineered sites because, for them, these sites are consistently slow and sometimes awkward. In fairness to website operators I need to point out that a user's operating system, their settings and their connection are frequent sources of problems. Generally, if a user doesn't have problems on the web but has a problem with a site, it is a site problem. However, just because a user can retrieve email does not mean their computer and browser are properly configured. Email is relatively simple. Net searching and the resultant interaction with sites often are not.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <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>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500

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