By Bruce McKinney
The world of books, once the staid backwater of the information age, is moving along at a quick pace these days, thank you. Books, until recently the solid and predictable bricks of the increasingly elaborate intellectual construction we call education, are showing themselves to be as able to be redefined by changing electronic capabilities as just about everyone from Gutenberg to God would want, and to adapt very well. Can we tell you where we’ll be in fifty years? No, but neither can you, and the world of books is headed off on a trip that will make Alice’s jaunt down the rabbit hole look positively tame. If you are looking for a new frontier, look no further. Books, or at least what’s in them, are going to be on the cutting edge for sometime to come. It seems like every five hundred years or so, ready or not, books redefine things all over again.
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This month AE takes another step in the evolution/revolution of the printed word. The challenge is the integration of book history into the listings of books for sale. Why not? It’s not only possible. It’s actually easy and makes books and ephemera 3-D, adding auction, dealer and bibliographical records to books offered for sale. The fact is that online book listings today are barely different from the dealer catalogue descriptions. For about ten years now, since book listings on the net began to take hold, they have simply mimicked traditional presentations. That can change and now will.
Enter FootNotes - software that combines the online book listing with the history of the title. It works this way. Any seller who is a Matchmaker member, $17.50 a month, can create up to 500 files of up to 50 footnotes each that can be attached to selling listings with a single AE FootNotes file link. This link opens a pop-up window on the seller’s site that contains bibliographical and sales history. It says “I’ll empower you. I think the book is worth X and if you agree buy it.” In time most, if not all books will be explained this way. New books will have links to price comparisons and reviews and old books will have links to articles, bibliographies and priced records. The days of “I say it is worth this much” will be replaced by “the market says it is worth this much.” And as this happens the world of old and rare books will enter a new and much better chapter. Sales and values will increase. The value of rare books, restrained by lack of easily accessible market information, will increase as buyers, able to understand the book market clearly, will be attracted by transparency. Simply stated: ignorance impairs and knowledge empowers.
Here is how FootNotes works. First find the title you would like to footnote in the AE Database. Select those records from the database you would like included in your FootNote. Once finished, you can review your new FootNote page. If you are satisfied, simply copy the link (url) that appears on that page and paste it as a link with the book’s description on your site. That’s all. When a visitor to your site, reading your description, clicks this link, a window pops up on their screen containing all of the listings, plus any other information you add to your FootNote file.