Using the Americana Exchange Resources to Their Fullest Potential

Index100

Shelf of Canonical Americana Bibliographic Sources

By Abby Tallmer

Could you please inform me how I can tell if a book is a first edition and if its an important Americana item. Where do I go in the book or elsewhere to find this information? What do I look for?
—typical quote from a befuddled book owner to a reference librarian


Questions like those posed above are asked several times a day every day to countless reference librarians, rare book dealers, and rare book specialists across the country. To contextualize a bit, in this media-driven, wired world in which we live, it seems that everything that can possibly be sold (and then some) is busily being offered on eBay or appraised on the Antiques Roadshow. This apparent surge of popularity for antiquarian items has made many people who own or seek to collect or sell Americana books or other textual materials understandably confused about how to determine which items in the Americana field are uncommon, rare, important or valuable. Many of those same people also justifiably find it difficult to extrapolate the essential information that they need to know about a book in order to answer these questions solely by reading a dealers or an auction house catalog.

Welcome to the Americana Exchange. We seek to — and will — change all of that. The Americana Exchange's primary mission is to demystify the process of identifying and ranking Americana books available on the open market. Through the large and rich variety of resources provided on our website and in our database, we will enact this vision and swing the knowledge pendulum back to where it belongs, into the hands of Americana owners, researchers, and collectors. Moreover, we will help auction houses and dealers in the process by offering them national and regular exposure to a ready–made audience that will benefit them tremendously. All parties will be empowered to reach each other in a more efficient manner, thus democratizing and exponentially expanding the amount of trading that will be conducted in the Americana market nationwide and even internationally.

The Americana Exchange (AE) is made up of several key and interdependent research components or modules: an Auction module consisting of upcoming auction listings, notifications, and a calendar; a Database module consisting of a searchable database which includes authoritative Americana bibliographical information; a Classified Advertising module; and last but not least, the Americana Exchange Monthly , our interactive magazine which will serve as the virtual source of information about the resources, people, places and events in the fascinating and complex field of Americana. As no two people think exactly alike, each of these modules will be used differently by individual AE members. There is no right or wrong order in which to use our research resources, which serve distinct but complimentary purposes — each component plays a significant role in providing essential information about Americana books and textual materials to AE members and visitors.