Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2007 Issue

Reaching AE and the AED by Cell Phone

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By Bruce and Tom McKinney

A great database is no greater than its accessibility. For more than ten years databases of books have been evolving online and for the past five the AED, the largest source of past book, manuscript and ephemera auction records, has been building. Today, in the AED, there are more than 1.6 million full text records and the volume always increasing. Access has been via computer and internet connection. This month we are adding cell phone access as a standard feature for all research and premium memberships.

Books have always had a subtle sedentary bias. Where there are books there are almost always chairs and desks because contemplation and research are a natural part of the consideration of collectible material. And it's easy to think of the limited range of motion of information about books as a given but its not and cell phone access proves that you can travel a thousand miles and still access information to inform your decisions about appropriate valuation, rarity and relative availability while strolling distant aisles, perusing shelves and examining specific copies of interest. Every book person on the planet has wondered about items and made a note to look them up later. Using this service while browsing a shop, a show, an auction or even while discussing a particular book over lunch, the American Exchange Database is now fully accessible to those with appropriate cell phones. It's as simple as dialing up.

Cell phones are quickly evolving. The newest technology employs 2G and 3G interfaces that allow phones that are internet enabled to get online. From there it depends on how specific sites are configured. Most can be viewed but only a few are configured to be easily searched by employing separate simplified cell phone access pages. We provide this and expect cell phone access to become a useful tool for AE members. If you are an AE research or premium member and have an internet enabled cell phone you'll want to try it out.

Web-enabled phones are not going to replace computers as the preferred way to view online sites but there are going to be times when such access is worth its weight in gold. Say for the moment that you see something in the auction rooms or in a shop that's appealing but you aren't absolutely certain of its value. With this service you look it up on the spot to confirm value and rarity.

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