Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2016 Issue

IOBA - Promotes Professionalism and Customer Satisfaction in Online Bookselling

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IOBA (Independent Online Booksellers Association) has 341 members in 15 countries.

Ah yes, “professional standards,” in the world of online book selling, particularly of antiquarian books and paper, that term has many meanings. The bar can be set high - as with membership in the ABAA (Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America) which requires substantial experience, recommendations from fellow ABAA members, actual vetting and annual dues.



Or it can be set low…. so low as to be non-existent - witness the thousands of sellers who have no trade affiliation, no professional experience and would not know a first edition from a cheap reprint. These are booksellers who in some cases do not even actually have the book they’re offering, not to mention may have also lifted its description too. Low. Low. Low. “Caveat Emptor:” Let the buyer beware.



Somewhere between those two ends there is IOBA (Independent Online Booksellers Association). It is one of many groups that sellers can join to increase professionalism and help assure customer satisfaction. The IOBA logo is a good indication of a quality operation.



In January 2016 IOBA had 341 members in 15 countries. It offers substantial benefits for a modest fee of $75 a year. The qualifications for membership are reasonable and the IOBA logo after a seller’s name inspires a degree of customer confidence because it indicates that the seller has been reviewed by others working in the trade and meets certain basic professional standards.



They are according to the IOBA website:



  1. You must have a minimum of one year prior bookselling experience.

  2. You must be an owner/partner/member of an online bookselling business that is not a publicly traded corporation.

  3. You must have and provide a valid resale license or business registration number if one is required to conduct business in your locality.

  4. You must agree to conduct business in accordance with the IOBA Code of Ethics.

(See more at: www.ioba.org/pages/member-application/#sthash.Bm2BHVEV.dpuf)



Meet those standands and pay the $75 once a year and you’ll receive quite a few benefits that comes with the territory.



They include the IOBA “Discuss List “ where members educate each other on best practices and other items of interest to online booksellers. There is also an active Wants/For Sale venue for members to do business with each other which is commission free.



IOBA is an all-volunteer trade association and there are many opportunities to join an active committee and contribute if you wish,” said Phil Keener of Keener Books and Collectibles ("The books you want...from booksellers you can trust") in Wisconsin..



Other IOBA benefits, he said in a letter encouraging membership in the organization, include a number of educational opportunities and scholarships for members such as scholarships to the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar (CABS) (www.bookseminars.com), the Rare Books School (www.rarebookschool.org), or the York Antiquarian Booksellers Seminar (YABS) (www.yabseminar.com) in England.



Our organization is open to all professional online booksellers and is not restricted to antiquarian booksellers,” he added.



Joan White, on the membership committee for over ten years and most recently chairman, explained that the process to join  is quite simple.  Fill out the application on line: www.ioba.org/pages/member-application. It goes to the chair, the chair checks it out and shares the results with the committee and you’re in. Sometimes the applicants need a little coaching. White said there is a mentorship program for those who almost qualify but are not quite up to speed.



She pointed to the ability to write an accurate description of the merchandise, “including the flaws,” as the most frequent area where help is needed. In other cases, sellers may not have the necessary tax paperwork in place. White was clear, if you’re receiving income but not reporting it, this is probably not the place for you. For others the return policy is a sticky point: Those with AS IS - FINAL SALE and “no return” practices do not meet the guidelines.



But obviously, with more than 300 members, there are quite a few that do.



Asking other members for comments about IOBA produced an enthusiastic response. They liked the lists, the book school and the networking with others in the trade. “The IOBA lists, said one, “are good because you know that the people you’re dealing with are a lot like you.”



"I was attracted to IOBA as a newcomer to the trade,” said William Knox of the Penang Bookshelf - outgoing president. Located in “a part of the world where professional used booksellers' associations barely exist, IOBA offered me a home, “ he said. Knox is a specialist in books about Malaysia and also the rest of Asia.




IOBA, he wrote in an email, is, ”The broad church of booksellers from all over the world, both novices and experienced hands, promoting independence and ethical selling. It has, in a short time, grown to become the largest international bookselling organisation devoted exclusively to online bookselling. This has been achieved and will be continued largely by the volunteering efforts of our members. IOBA maintains its position because it is sufficiently flexible to incorporate ideas of newer booksellers with the authoritative experience of those who have been in the trade for decades.”



Charles Fedorowicz of the UK, who started selling books online in 2001, wrote “I have been a member of IOBA since 2009 and served on the Internet Committee and now I chair the Outreach Committee. “I joined IOBA shortly after I launched my website after having cut my teeth selling on eBay. I knew that I needed some endorsement to give my customers confidence in making their purchase from my website and one of the several ways of doing this was joining IOBA and being able to show their logo on all my web pages.



That is possibly over simplifying things but that is pretty much as it was. Having retired from full time employment in the IT industry I decided on selling books online to keep me busy. Starting in this way made it difficult to join many of the established bookselling organisations because they all asked for more experience and references, which I did not have at the time.



I did though qualify to join IOBA…. I am truly pleased that I did as I have learned a great deal more about bookselling both from the website and from the very active Discuss List and from my sponsorship on the YABS program. I now understand that IOBA has given me so much more than just the logo that I initially wanted.”



Chris Volk, a California online dealer and a past IOBA president, also observed that there’s quite a bit of overlap between IOBA and ABAA.



ABAA has stiffer membership requirements and it costs more. Some dealers join IOBA on the way to ABAA and quite a few in the ABAA see the benefits of a group that’s exclusively focused on the online portion of the trade and join IOBA too.



In case you’re wondering if the long slog to the high end is worth it, John F. Kuenzig, of Kuenzig Books, a science and engineering specialist in Massachusetts, commented via emailThe ABAA designation is certainly worth it if you want to sell to the best collectors. After becoming an ABAA dealer, we started selling things online that had been there for a long time. Now we get cold calls from collectors in our area. Worth it? Absolutely.”



As for other groups that encourage professionalism, Madlyn Bloom in Florida reminded RBH readers that there are many state organizations. She’s an officer of the Florida Antiquarian Booksellers Association and urges those in her area to visit their site: floridabooksellers.com



There does not seem to be a complete list of state organizations, but there are certainly active groups in Northern and Southern California and Texas to name a few. It was hard to find a complete list. The one list we found coming from the publishing side may not be current or all inclusive: www.ibpa-online.org/resources/bookseller-associations/

------------------------

 

IOBA Election results

After 10 years with the membership committee, most recently as chair, Joan White, co-owner of White Unicorn Books in Dallas, Texas, a science fiction and fantasy specialist, is the new 2016 IOBA president.

 

Here is the complete list of officers:

 

President : Joan White

Vice President : Heidi Congalton

Secretary : Doug Nelson

Treasurer : Sharon Eisenberg

Members at Large : Zhenya Dzhavgova, Charles Fedorowicz, Sharon Heimann, Rachel Jagareski, Betty Kilner and Andrea Tomberg.



Karin Bergsagel, who was the co-chair, will replace Joan as chair of the membership committee.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Taupin, Bernie. Autograph Manuscript, the original draft of lyrics for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," 2 pp, 1973. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Francis Scott Key, <i>Star Spangled Banner,</i> first printing, c. 1814-16. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> William Sydney Porter, a.k.a. “O. Henry,” archive of drawings made to illustrate a lost mining memoir, c. 1883-84. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> [Bay Psalm Book], printed for Hezekiah Usher of Boston, Cambridge, c. 1648-65. $50,000 to $75,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Noticia estraordinario,</i> probable first announcement in Mexico City of the fall of the Alamo, 1836. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Patrick Gass, first edition of earliest first-hand account of the Lewis and Clarke expedition, Pittsburgh, 1807. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Diploma from the Princeton Class of 1783, commencement attended by Washington & Continental Congress. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Sprague Light Cavalry!</i> color-printed broadside, NY, 1863. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>The Lincoln & Johnson Union Campaign Songster,</i> Philadelphia, 1864. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Lucy Parsons, labor organizer, albumen cabinet card, New York, 1886. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Daniel L.F. Swift, journal as third mate on a Pacific Whaling voyage, 1848-1850. $3,000 to $4,0000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Two photos of Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon, silver prints, 1901. $1,500 to $2,500.

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