Thirteen years ago, on September 3rd, the Americana Exchange was launched into a world of printed materials that liked things the way they were. Some few, the founders and 40 paid members, mostly dealers, saw in the distance an information based future. AE was an experiment and would remain so for some time - until its presence in the world of rare books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera became widely accepted. That acceptance has been hard won.
Over these thirteen years the economics of collectibles have been tested severely. Listing sites have made it possible to see the massive passive quantities for sale. “If you are interested this book is available!” In fact, something like two hundred million items are for sale. Such quantities demand clarification and today the Rare Book Hub Transaction Database is providing it. What others have had to say about an item, how many times it has surfaced and how many times it sold, when and for what; all this information is important and arguably essential. And today it is instant.
The challenge has been to build a database valuable enough to attract an audience. Initially we concentrated on basic reference materials, incorrectly assuming that saving members' time would easily justify membership. We also initially focused on Americana but shifted to an all-collectible printed materials approach in 2004. We also covered a narrower group of auctions at the outset but have expanded coverage to all appropriate well-described lots worldwide.
In other words we have embraced change as the single most important constant for the site.
Looking ahead we see simpler searches and more scale and speed. We inhabit a world today we did not anticipate but now, 4,745 days in, we are the thoroughbred in full gallop.
To those who have supported the enterprise we offer our thanks. To those who will join in the year ahead you have our commitment to support your efforts.