• <b>Now in press: 19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> <i>The First American Magna Carta. English Liberties.</i> Boston, 1721.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Babbage presentation to Peel, the man who killed the Difference Engine 1832
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> The Stamp Act. 1765
    <b>Now in press: 19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Central Park Photographs by Prevost 1862
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Salem Witch Trials. Wonders of the Invisible World 1693
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Mammoth print of Millie-Christine, "The Carolina Twins" c. 1868
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Ernest Hemingway, Autograph Letter Signed "Love / Mr. Papa," to Marlene Dietrich, Cuba, 1952. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Alexis de Tocqueville, Autograph Letter Signed, on the publication of <i> Democracy in America </i>, 1837. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Thomas Hart Benton, Autograph Manuscript, draft of <i>The Mechanics of Form Organization in Painting</i>, with sketches, 1926. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Elliot Erwitt, photograph of Kennedy & Eisenhower, signed by both,<br>c. 1960. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> John Adams, Partly-printed Document Signed, as President, countersigned by Secretary of State Timothy Pickering, 1798. $4,000 to $6,000. 
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Graphite drawing of Albert Einstein, signed by him & the artist, S.N. Swamy, 1950. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Autograph Musical Quotation Signed, London, 1888. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Partly-printed vellum Document Signed, as President, countersigned by Secretary of State James Madison, 1809. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Agatha Christie, Autograph Manuscript notebook with early drafts for numerous novels, Baghdad, circa 1948. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Claude Monet, Autograph Letter Signed to Desmond Fitzgerald, in French, 1889. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Photograph of Fidel Castro, Signed & Inscribed, in Spanish, 1955. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Frederick Stuart Church, archive of 17 illustrated Autograph Letters Signed to Evander Schley, 1905-11. $5,000 to $7,500.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2016 Issue

Selling books online - CARPE DIEM: Some tips for a better bottom line in 2016

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Carpe Diem - "Seize the Day" was my mother's favorite piece of bookselling advice. A bookseller for 50 years she hung this motto over her desk and she found opportunity in many places. Here are some tips - old and new - that consistently helped me sell books and ephemera, prints, maps and other older paper online. May 2016 be your best year ever.

 

  • Try ADDALL

Before I list anything I always try to get a rough idea of what the value of the book might be and estimate how many copies are out there. Addall is my preferred first stop. used.addall.com

 

Lots of sellers use other bases including ABE, AMAZON, BOOKFINDER or VIALIBRI to check the prices, but I prefer ADDALL because it includes many book bases all at once, and let’s you filter out print-on-demand titles. It’s an easy way to get a rough idea of just how many duplicate listings of any given title may be available.

 

Many dealers list the same book on many bases, so the same book can show up four or five places. With ADDALL you’ll know it’s just one book and genuinely scarce, or it’s the same book owned by the same seller listed in a variety of places. Set ADDALL to have the results sorted by price with the most expensive first (descending) order, and then click on the binding (hard, soft, any) and click “no print on demand” and you’re good to go.

 

Use descending order because though some dealers ask a high price set by an algorithmic formula, better dealers ask a higher price because they actually know something about the book that gives it more value. These dealers are apt to put this information in their description and if you see similar info popping up in several higher priced listings (such as “The rose on p. 27 faces left.”) and your book has that point, you’ll want to include that information in your description. Likewise, if the better dealers say their copy is a “stated first edition” and your copy lacks that statement, then chances are your copy isn’t.

 

  • Dust Jackets

Lord knows why, but a great deal of the value of a used book, especially a used collectible book, resides in the dust jacket. Does it have a dust jacket? Is that dust jacket priced? (Usually on the front flap, but sometimes on the back flap). Then mention it in your description, and give the price in dollars, pounds, rupees or however it’s denominated. Also mention the condition of the dust jacket.

 

It’s often worthwhile to put it in a Brodart cello protector, especially if it’s fragile or in less than pristine condition. I use BrodartJust-A-Fold Original Cover’ in a size that fits books to 12” (Catalog Number: 10-195-004.) One roll will last quite a while. I’ve found it’s more economical to buy the big size and cut it down for smaller dust jackets than to purchase multiple sizes. Brodart sells a wide variety of book and library products, if you have more sophisicated needs ask for a catalog or view their stock on line www.shopbrodart.com (Brodart Co. USA toll-free 1-888-820-4377, Canada toll free 1-800-265-8470.)

 

  • Bookish Listservs: Here are two good ones

Listservs were one of the earliest incarnations of the digital age and though we’ve invented higher tech tools the basic text only listserv is still a very good way to exchange bookish info:

 

The Bib List

One of the longest running bookish listservs is bibliophilegroup.com aka the Bib List run by Lynn DeWeese-Parkinson lynn@bibliophilegroup.comThis is a list that has been going for at least the last 15 years. A subscription costs $30 per year payable in March. Parkinson offers a two week free trial period for potential subscribers. At any given time this list has about 1,000 members, many of whom are booksellers. Some of the Bibs sell and comment frequently. Others never post but are faithful lurkers -- and though they may be invisible they are indeed buyers.

 

Subscribers can list books and book related materials For Sale (FS), For Auction (FA) or Wanted (WTD). They can also post topics for discussion, information, news, tech support and other headers. Much valuable information is exchanged and the tone is friendly and consistently collegial. This is a very good place to sell books. There is no fee or commission besides the annual one time subscription charge. In 2015 I had sales from the Bib List every single month. If a book or lot is going to sell on the Bib List it usually is spoken for within an hour or two and sometimes within minutes.

 

Ex-Libris

Ex-libris is a very different kind of listserv. The moderator is Ev Wilkie ewilkie@ix.netcom.comand he runs a tight ship. The active users tend to be from academia, especially librarians in special collections and archives. The only day that sellers can post is Tuesday and then there are very strict rules about what is allowed and how it is to be formatted. Ex-libris does not allow actual ‘For Sale’ listings, but links to catalogs are permitted. This list is free; the best way to join is to contact Wilkie, sign up and read the rules carefully. Then it’s a good idea to lurk until you get the feel of the group. Ex-Libris is not a good place to make money, but it is a good place to see what other dealers are offering and to learn some of the more specialized knowledge shared by those who work in rare book rooms, archives, museums and the like. It is a particularly good for job postings, news of coming events, symposiums, exhibits at the various member institutions, and lots of really specialized bibliographical information. Some of the information posted on Ex-libris can be useful to people who buy and sell in less elevated spheres.

 

  • Terminology helps

There are lots of ways to describe a book. You can say: “Used ex-library copy with usual stamps and marks” or you can say “Gently read former library copy lightly marked.” It’s the same book but one sounds better than the other.

 

Some commonly used descriptive words

 

Words that indicate a BETTER copy

Good, bright, tight, clean, complete, original issue, vintage, antique, no marks, looks unread, stated first edition, stated first American (or UK) edition, priced dust jacket, signed by author, inscribed by author, index, bibliography, photos, color art, limited, association material laid in.

 

Words that indicate a LESSER copy

Discolored, freckled, foxed, toned, yellowing, brittle, chipped, tender, frayed, bumped, detached but present, missing, loose, torn, cracked, chipped, worn, rubbed, price clipped dust jacket, shabby, heavily read, name of prior owner in ink, inscription of prior owner in ink, lacks dust jacket, later printing, partial dust jacket, Book Club Edition.

 

Words that indicate a copy that’s NOT SO HOT

Musty odor, damped, pages with pronounced ripple, pages stuck together, insect damage, heavily stained, underlined in marker, incomplete.

 

  • Check the back - last page

Most beginning booksellers know enough to check the dates on both the title page and the copyright page. But a lot of people forget to check the very back of the book where there may be additional information especially related to the printing and production and sometimes to the limitation and number of copies published. If you think it might be unusual or limited don’t forget to look in the back.

 

  • FREE has a good ring to it

I find a lot of what I sell by looking around and asking what’s for FREE? What’s being given away, what’s being discarded? You’d be surprised how many sellers think the new books with the shiny covers are worth money and toss the older good stuff in the free box. Free can be almost anything but it often falls into the ephemera category, i.e. printed material that was produced to be given away and not intended to be saved. Sometimes these things can end up being worth quite a bit. This includes posters and flyers stuck to telephone poles, a box of handwritten recipe cards, old letters, old photos, or any accumulation of older paper including magazines.

 

Where to find FREE

Free is everywhere but you have to be looking for it. Want it for free? Come back at the end of the yard sale and offer to take away the leftovers. Free is seeing that box of old paper left on the curb for the trash collector and picking it up first. Free is saving the magazine with the good article or interesting story or first appearance by a talented author. Free is recognizing something that somebody else might want, saving it and writing an accurate description.

 

How to treat FREE

I treat free just the way I treat things I paid for, except there’s always a better margin on free. One of the rules in bookselling is what you paid for it has absolutely nothing to do with what it might be worth. Once it’s yours it isn’t free any more and you set the price.

 

When to pass on FREE

Pass on free when you are not sure the person giving it to you really owns it; when it has marks from a library but no deaccession (withdrawn) marks and especially when the little voice in the back of your head asks, “Is this stolen?”

 

  • PICKY - PICKY - PICKY

I’ve been selling books for almost 40 years and my parents sold books for 50 years before me. In the 1980s I’d carry a lot of inventory and it wouldn’t matter if it sold this year or next year because I was pretty sure it would eventually sell. But books, especially more recent titles in mass market editions, are mostly in a race to the bottom where prices are concerned. It’s hard to make money on things that are common. With that in mind 2016 is the year be more picky about what you take in and a lot more picky about what you actually list.



If it doesn’t have a dust jacket, if it isn’t a first, if there are lots of other copies around and priced under $10, and your copy isn’t signed or notably better in some unique way, then don’t go there -- just pass it up, or you pass it along for free. For me the short list of thanks but no thanks includes: No coffee table books, no modern Bibles, no Book Club Editions (BCE), no broken sets (with a few exceptions).

 

There’s a reason that The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo was the #2 on Amazon’s “Top 100 list for 2015.” Some of that stuff that someone else is “decluttering” is going to come to you and at a very good price or even free. But most of that junk is really junk and even for free you don’t want it.

 

These are the trends I noticed this year in my own sales:

*SIZE - Smaller is better - very few sales of big heavy books, no matter how beautiful.

*LESS FICTION - I sold hardly any fiction.

*MORE EPHEMERA - My ephemera sales were strong, especially vintage and antique illustrated regional history. it didn’t matter what region or what period, if it was very specific, older and illustrated somebody wanted it.

*BIBLIOGRAPHY SELLS - Any time I had a decent bibliography of a collectible author or subject to offer it sold.

*OTHER DEALERS BUY - Some of my best customers and some of my top dollar sales were to other dealers

 

Some links worth checking:

 

BookThink hosted by Craig Stark is a long running site that bills itself as “resources for booksellers.” There’s a lot of interesting info here. Though not all of it is current or easily accessible it is worth a closer look. This link will take you to his Dec. 2015 article about vintage vinyl. Stark makes the point that not all displaced technology goes away. Click the red type at the bottom of the page to see other recent earlier offerings. www.bookthink.com/0175/175turn1.htm

 

ABE most expensive book sales in 2015

www.abebooks.com/rare-books/most-expensive-sales/year-2015.shtml?cm_sp=rbr-_-main_cta-_-mostex

 

100 top books on Amazon 2015- how many of these will still be around in ten years?

www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/2015/books

 

The publishing industry in 5 charts

janefriedman.com/the-state-of-the-publishing-industry-in-5-charts

 

Retail sales for 2015 from the ABA

Not entirely relevant to online selling but still worth a look

www.bookweb.org/btw-topics/industry-statistics

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, March 9. Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including the Kennedy Years</b>
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> BROWNING, ELIZABETH BARRETT. Autograph Manuscript Initialed ("E.B.B."), being the working notebook for the poems contained in <i>The Seraphim and Other Poems</i>. $400,000 to 600,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> WILDE, OSCAR. Two leaves, pp 31-34, from the first appearance of <i>The Picture of Dorian Gray in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine for July, 1890</i>, with Wilde's autograph revisions. $40,000 to 60,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Comedies, Histories and Tragedies; Published according to the true Originall Copies. Second Impression. [THE SECOND FOLIO.]</i> $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, March 9. Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including the Kennedy Years</b>
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> KENNEDY, JOHN FITZGERALD. Photograph Signed ("John F. Kennedy") and Inscribed, 8 x 10 inch gelatin silver print, of Senator Kennedy and Miss Barelli, at the swearing of the secretarial oath for Miss Barelli. $1,200 to 1,800
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> COOPER, JAMES FENIMORE. Autograph Manuscript, being Chapter XXVII of <i>Afloat and Ashore</i>. $15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> IRVING, WASHINGTON. Autograph Manuscript, being Chapter 20 from Volume IV of <i>The Life of George Washington</i>. $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, March 9. Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including the Kennedy Years</b>
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> VERNE, JULES. Autograph Manuscript Signed ("Jules Verne"), being the complete short story "<i>Une fantaisie de docteur Ox</i>". $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> ALCHEMY. <i>[The Crowning of Nature, or Coronatio Naturae.]</i> Original alchemical manuscript on paper, ruled in red, with watermark of the arms of Schieland. $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> DE JODE, CORNELUS. 1568 - 1600. <i>Quivirae Regnu, Cum Alija Versus Borea</i>. [Antwerp: Arnoldum Coninx, 1593]. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams, March 9. Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including the Kennedy Years</b>
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> HOOKER, JOSEPH DALTON. <i>The Rhododendrons of Sikkim-Himalaya; Being an Account, Botanical and Geographical, of the Rhododendrons Recently Discovered in the Mountains of Eastern Himalaya</i>… $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> CATLIN, GEORGE. <i>North American Indian Portfolio. Hunting scenes and amusements of the Rocky Mountains and prairies of America. From drawings and notes of the author, made during eight years' travel.</i> $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> LINCOLN, ABRAHAM. HESLER, ALEXANDER. Platinum print, 8 3/4 x 6 3/4 in, of a beardless Lincoln, 1860.<br>$2,000 to 3,000
  • <b>Sotheby’s London: Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History. 9 May 2017. Viewing 5 – 8 May.</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Ackermann, Rudolph—Uwins, Thomas. A collection of 240 drawings for Rudolph Ackermann's <i>Repository of Arts</i> magazine, 1809-1828. £20,000 – 30,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Blaeu, Willem Janszoon, and Joan. <i>Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, Sive Atlas Novus in Quo Tabulae et Descriptiones Omnium Regionum.</i> 1640-1654. £100,000 – 150,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Mercator, Gerard and Jodocus Hondius. <i>L’Atlas ou Méditations Cosmographiques de la Fabrique du Monde et Figure Diceluy.</i> 1613. £60,000 – 80,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London: Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History. 9 May 2017. Viewing 5 – 8 May.</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Speed, John. <i>The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain, Presenting an Exact Geography of the Kingdom of England, Scotland, Ireland and the Isles Adjoyning...</i> £100,000 – 150,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Wit, Frederick De. [General Atlas], With The Engraved Title For Atlas Maior. Amsterdam, [C.1688-1696]. £50,000 – 70,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Kuntz, Joh. Rudolph. <i>[Abbildungen Königlich Württembergischer Gestütts-Pferde von Orientalischen Racen.</I> Stuttgart: Ebner 1823–1824]. £30,000 – 40,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London: Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History. 9 May 2017. Viewing 5 – 8 May.</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Lawrence, T.E. Ivory Silk Thawb, Or Under-Robe, Presented by Lawrence of Arabia to a family friend. £10,000 – 15,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Blaeu, Joan. <i>Archipelagus Orientalis Sive Asiaticus</i>. Amsterdam: Joan Blaeu, [1659]. £200,000 – 250,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Blaeu, Joan. <i>Asiae Descriptio Novissima</i>. Amsterdam: Joan Blaeu, [1659]. £60,000 – 80,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London: Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History. 9 May 2017. Viewing 5 – 8 May.</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Japanese bird paintings—(Rinchô Zu). A Pair Of Painted Scrolls of Birds. [Japan, Late 18th Or Early 19th Century]. £25,000 – 35,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Huang, Qianren. Da Qing Wannian Yitong Tianxia Quantu [Complete Map of the Whole Unified Country of the Great Qing]. [1803]. £80,000 – 120,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Sôkaku or Ryôsei Jôkei. Da Ming Sheng Tu, [Map of (China Under) The Great Ming Dynasty]. (1691 Or 1711). £80,000 – 120,000
  • <b>Seth Kaller:</b> “America the Beautiful”
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> George Washington, Tongue-in-Cheek, Writes James McHenry About His Wife or Mistress—But Funding the Continental Army is the Real Topic
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Young’s Map of the United States
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> President Lincoln & His Most Profitable Client, the Illinois Central Railroad
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Lincoln Thanks Former Pro-Slavery and Newly Republican Congressman for a Fiery Anti-Slavery Speech at a Philadelphia Campaign Rally
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> “A Visit From St. Nicholas” - great association copy inscribed by Clement C. Moore
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Einstein Agrees to Allow “a Short Book on the Hydrogen Bomb” to Use His Statement Made on Eleanor Roosevelt’s TV Show
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> The Building Blocks of Albert Einstein’s Creative Mind
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> A Unique Manuscript Map of Block Island Sound Including Fisher’s and Gardiner’s Islands, the Hamptons, and Montauk Point
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> J.R.R. Tolkien Writes his Proofreader with a Lengthy Discussion of the Lord of the Rings, Including Criticism of Radio Broadcasts of his Work
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Six Benjamin Franklin Signed Receipts – Including his Earliest Obtainable Autograph — Acknowledging a Donation to the Famous Library Company He Founded, and Five Payments for His Pennsylvania Gazette
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Sherman Dishes on Lincoln & Thomas, Meade, Sheridan, Halleck & Grant
  • <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on May 22</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>Book of hours, manuscript on vellum. Around 1520. Est: € 15,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>H. Schedel, <i>Liber chronicarum</i>. 1493. Est: € 60,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br><i> Biblia germanica</i>. 1475/1476.<br>Est: € 140,000
    <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on May 22</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>A. Ortelius, <i>Theatrum orbis terrarum</i>. 1574. Est: € 26,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>L. de Varthema, <i>Die ritterlich und lobwirdig Rays</i>. 1515. Est: € 15,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>J. H. van Linschoten, <i>His Discours of Voyages</i>. 1598. Est: € 70,000
    <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on May 22</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>J. G. Stedman, <i>Narrative of Surinam</i>. 1806. Est: € 8,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>A. von Menzel, <i>Armeewerk Friedrichs d. Gr.</i> 1850-1860. Est: € 50,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>G. Heym, <i>Umbra Vitae</i>. 1924.<br>Est: € 8,000
    <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on May 22</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>Master binding by G. Levitzky. 1914. Est: € 2,500
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>R. Char, <i>A la santé du serpent</i>. 1954. Est: € 8,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>Nam June Paik, <i>Fluxus Testament</i>. 1975. Est: € 18,000

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