AE: Year 3, Day 1
The sale of a book, in simplest terms, is an exchange for money and buyers have the right, and frankly if they buy in any substantial volume, an obligation to their families, to do so in a prudent way. When someone buys a car they check in various ways to determine the fair price. When you buy a CD, a coat or airline tickets you evaluate competing alternatives. For books there are listing sites, many of them. They very effectively present one side of the story, the seller's side: a faux market that displays only "offers." Because they display a variety of prices there is the mis-impression of a market. How long have these listings been up? How many copies have been sold at least on this site and ideally in total in recent years on many sites and in other venues? No collector and few dealers know. Because online listings don't age a five year old listing looks exactly the same as a listing posted for the first time today. If a house is for sale the first question you ask is for how long? Why is the answer to that question so important for real estate but systematically unavailable for books offered for sale? The answer is simple. These listings aren't a market. They become a market only when juxtaposed against market history generally and priced transactions specifically so that both buyers and sellers can see both sides of what today is a chasm. That is why we build the AE database of auction transactions and successful dealer catalogues. Information empowers. Unfortunately, for a minority of sellers it also frightens.
That said, there will be 75,000 to 85,000 documented book auction lots containing about 340,000 books posted on AE for sale during the 2004-2005 auction year. They will all be accessible using the free auction search. Every lot will be available for inspection 7 to 30 days prior to sale depending primarily on when we gain access to the information. When you come to AE there is, toward the top of the new home page [introduced with this issue of AE Monthly] and on the auction pages, a keyword[s] search of all currently posted lots. Type in the search box a term such as author name, title, keyword or place name. Within one second we'll show you every upcoming auction lot that contains your term and we'll highlight each reference. If the lot is of interest you can then click through to the auction house. If not continue your search. As sales are then completed we'll post the realized prices and leave them on the free site for 45 days so that you can follow any lot[s] of interest from first posting all the way to completed transaction. Then we'll add these transactions to the AED where they become part of the historical record. A subscription to the entire 800,000+ record AE database is still $10 a month. It's a useful tool for seeing the past and present market in a single glance. In the AED we continue to streamline the search process. Today we offer a recently revised advanced search and a global [multi-field] keyword search. The Advanced screen allows searches in specific fields while Keyword searches find your term anywhere it appears in the all of the principal fields. Since spring we have been working with a new database structure that is both very fast and allows for infinite expansion. Keyword searches can form the basis of "collection building" and may be saved as wants lists and automatically posted to various venues.