Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2005 Issue

Pacific Book Auction - A good place to do business


Christina Geiger prepares for an auction.

They have an expert staff of thirteen people, most of whom have been with them for a long time. Administrators are Cameron Whiteman, President; Shannon Kennedy, VP of Client Services; Scott Evans, VP Operations & Technology; Rachel Frothingham, Client Services Associate; Justine Berkeley, Logistics Manager; and Larry Page, Shipping Manager. Then they have the book folk; Consignments, Appraisals and Cataloguing are done by Bruce MacMakin, Senior VP; George Fox, VP of Market Development and Senior Auctioneer; and aides, Thomas Lommen and Christina Geiger. When we were there, Christina was just doing her first big auction, and an awesome job she did!

"So tell me the process," I said to Bruce. "When a consignment comes in where does it go?" He said that the very first and most important thing they do, even before they accept a consignment, is talk to the consignee and get a feel for what books the person has to offer. There is no sense taking books that they know they can't sell. A lot of effort goes into each book in each consignment, so they are not looking for $5.00 books, but for higher end antiquarian and rare books. Sometimes when they accept an estate or big collection, they have to accept all the books, wonderful and not so wonderful. As Bruce put it; "PBA's interest is the same as the consignor's; we all need to make money."

Once they decide to take on a consignment, then PBA picks up or sends for the books, depending upon where they are located. They turn them over to their consignment department and the experts go through them and catalog them. The catalog contains the usual title, author, etc., and an excellent description of each book. Bruce said that they photograph approximately one in every 30 books, especially if they are real gems. In the meantime, all the books are also cataloged online. Once the print catalog is put together it is sent to their printer. "They can take the catalog and usually get it back to us in four days," Bruce told me. "We also put the catalog online and begin taking bids there."

Personally, I love the Category Watch that PBA offers. I have a very specialized bookstore and another job as well, so I don't have time, nor do I want to have to go through their entire catalog of fiction et al. to find my scarce, but wonderful books on architecture, travel, botany, cooking, or how to make jewelry. So when I signed up with PBA, I filled out the Category Watch form and now, when there are books in my arena of interest, they send me an email so I can check them out and bid if I want them.

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