Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2016 Issue

AbeBooks Adds "Collections," Where Sellers Can Compile Catalogues of Ephemeral and Highly Targeted Material

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AbeBooks' Collections.

AbeBooks has added a new section to their website and it represents an expansion of the material the site is offering on behalf of its dealers. It's no secret the book market is not as robust as it once was. More and more booksellers have responded by expanding the type of items they offer. As collectors focus more on subjects rather than just one particular type of presentation – books – dealers are selling various other types of paper and ephemeral items within the fields they cover. The "secret" to successful marketing, of course, is to give the customers what they want.

 

And so AbeBooks is expanding to fit the reality of collecting today. Founded in the 1990's, and quickly growing to become the largest marketplace in the world for old books, Abe has long remained focused on its original mission. That hasn't changed, but Abe is now adding a separate section to their website that is centered on material other than books, but that still appeals to today's more expansive book collector. Maps and atlases, art and photography, comics, and the broad category known as "ephemera" get their own sections. So do very specific types of books, such as signed books, fantasy, romance and reference. Within such categories are subcategories for further refinement. For example, within the category of ephemera are subcategories specifically for broadsides, magazines, manuscripts, pamphlets, postcards and posters. The collector can browse through a catalogue of material highly targeted to their own specific interests.

 

AbeBooks calls this new section Collections.

 

Abe points to a couple of Collections as examples of what is possible. Lorne Bair Rare Books offers a Collection of Eccentrics, Cranks & Difficult People. Bair regularly presents the writings of radical political movements, but these go from extreme to just plain crazy. Francis Livesey printed a broadside around 1905 headed Worse! And More Of It! Schools, Socialism, Lynchings, Ministers, Catholics, Negroes, Revolution, England. Livesey is consumed by creeping socialism, with public schools and child labor laws the primary culprits. He cites someone with the pseudonym "The Other Fellow" for showing "how child labor laws are working for 'race suicide' and other unnatural and ungodly acts." Livesey also points out how "Dr. Searle Harris, of Mobile, Ala, told President Roosevelt the negro was doomed to extinction by consumption. Somewhat true!" How does one become somewhat extinct? This, and many other comparably rational publications, can be found in Abe's Collections.

 

Földvári Books offers us a Collection of Propaganda, in this case, Eastern European communist era propaganda. Don't look for great art here. The Communists were more interested in the message than the art. A tough looking worker and unemployed man on this poster walk briskly, arm in arm, toward five tiny, fleeing capitalists. Though small, the capitalists are fat and bald. Ill-gotten wealth does this to you. In the background, factory chimneys bellow copious amounts of black smoke. The environment was not a major concern for those who produced Chernobyl.

 

Not all Collections offer such oddities. Donald A. Heald Rare Books has a Collection of Pocket Maps. For the young, this is what travelers used for directions before Google Maps and Waze.

 

AbeBooks' CEO explained, "Anyone who enjoys hunting through used bookstores, antique shops and art galleries for obscure treasures will relish Collections. We think customers are going to love this new way of browsing." The Collections do recreate the atmosphere of a treasure hunt through an old bookstore or a collection of catalogues. If there is a weakness to them, it is that the quantity of items is so great, and rapidly growing, as to make it a challenge for those looking for specific items. Abe has done some things to make it easier. Within a Collection, you can search by the most popular items (default), lowest price, or most recently listed. The last of these is particularly valuable when you come back to a Collection you have viewed before, so you aren't searching through items you have already seen to determine whether there is something new.

 

AbeBooks also offers dealers what they call "Master Collections." These allow booksellers to put their items in a larger, common catalogue with other sellers. Here, the ability to sort by price and recency becomes particularly important as these Master Collections can run to thousands of items. AbeBooks' Richard Davies noted that Collections are already divided into 25 main categories and 130 subcategories, with more to be added later this year, enabling viewers to target their interest. Still, he acknowledged that an ability to search for topics across Collections would be helpful and noted that Abe is working on such a feature right now.

 

A bookseller's collection can not only be found through the Collections page but also the seller's storefront. They will automatically show up there, enabling a collector to follow the Collections of a favorite dealer. Sellers can also link to their Collections from their own website, enabling them to serve as dedicated e-catalogues.

 

Abebook's Collections can be found on the following page: Collections.

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>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.

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