For Americana Exchange and more recently its successor Rare Book Hub change has always been part of the equation. Change online is necessary as the structure of the Internet evolves, speeds increase, and underlying assumptions about how websites function and are used, change. Early on the focus was on duplicating print services electronically. The idea was to create a great portable library that researchers could access at their desks. For those who tried it in 2002, it worked but most did not need it because the post-World War II structure of the rare book business was still, if wavering, intact. Shows were robust, dealer catalogues flowed off presses every day, institutions were significant acquirers and dealers still running shops. It was an understandable world even as enormous changes were occurring on the Internet.
These changes profoundly affected the rare book business. More and more people posted material on line to sell and simultaneously the number of listing sites began to decline as the rule, be No. 1 or be gone, took hold. As importantly, book collectors began to buy on these listing sites, thereby undermining the need for open shops, thereby weakening the field’s traditional structure, a weakening that continues today.
Since 2002 AE/RBH has built three databases and along the way, moved from stand-alone servers to the cloud while increasing the Transaction Database from 151,000 records on day 1 to 9.4 million full text records today.
This January we’ll introduce a fresh version of the site and an hour by hour Newsfeed for the rare book, manuscript, map and ephemera fields and then, a few months later, dedicated apps to turn your phone into a combination work station and daily newspaper for the field.
In taking these steps we look to help the field continue to transition, to keep the field relevant to the emerging next generation of collectors who see the world in a fresh way and we hope become enamored by collectible paper’s appealing complexity.
2020 will be an important year as we try to make the case to the next generation that what has been highly collectible for hundreds of years should be equally important to them once they see the view through the prism that the internet has made possible.
In closing, we at Rare Book Hub appreciate the broad support we have been receiving and want to thank all who, as visitors or paid services members, have used the site to advance their knowledge and understanding this past year.
Rare Book Hub