Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2020 Issue

A Brief Update on the field of books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera

Choices

Not long ago, dealers, using their own websites, databases, printed catalogues and eCatalogues have had a relatively strong market position with shows as the variable component.  For at least the next year however, electronic book fairs must do their best to replace the sales and community building ethos that traditional in person 1- to 3 day fairs have provided. That’s asking a lot.  The other two principal components look healthy.  Auctions are generating increasing sales, by lots and dollars, as verified through our data analysis.  The listing sites also appear to be healthy.  How the listing sites and auctions are dividing the balance of the pie is an interesting speculation.

 

Auctions are holding up, the volume of lots and percentage of lots sold are strong.  Dealers are innovating, moving with unusual alacrity responding to offers and possibilities. Collectors are committed, even animated.  There are suggestions of strength amid uncertainty.

 

This said, the online listing world looks at first glance a bit disorganized these days as some sellers post the same material to different sites, often at different prices.  ILAB resolves this issue nicely, by providing the different prices by seller on different sites.  That’s very good.  The principal reason offers vary between different sites is because some  of the different sites charge different commissions.  Logically, prices will be the same on all sites and many sellers do this.  But others don’t.  As well, while listed prices may be uniform, timed offers on different sites sometimes vary.  Prices can seem to move around like an image on a funhouse mirror.  But this said, Alibris and Abe look solid too.  The variations show up when you run Google searches where it appears to be the law of the jungle.

 

eBay is another case altogether.  They encourage high list prices and promote a series of discounts.  While there are some appealing deals on eBay I found recently it telling that eBay had 4 items in my category while Biblio and Abe had more than 40.  For me, searches within a date range save time.  On eBay I can’t find that necessary tool.

 

As an exercise I recently tried to acquire the narrow category of material I was searching.  Abe and Biblio were offering deep selections and I set up a list of 22 purchases, bought about 14 through Abe’s checkout while I contacted and completed transactions with 3 or 4 of the other sellers, all of whom had more, but unlisted, material and/or further discounts.  Both sites were very effective.

 

So, my fingers are crossed that the new electronic book fairs will pick up some of the slack for the field.  The other elements of the field look rock solid so find us a vaccine!

 

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [RUTH, George Herman “Babe” (1895-1948)]. Signed photograph. Circa 1930s. 191 x 248 mm. $1,500 to $2,500.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HARRISON, Benjamin. Document signed (“Benj Harrison”) as governor of Virginia, certifying the service of Daniel Cumbo, a Black Revolutionary soldier. $6,000 to $9,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: ONE OF THE FIRST PRINTED ANNOUNCEMENTS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: FIRST PRINTING OF LINCOLN’S IMMORTAL GETTYSBURG ADDRESS. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HIGHLY IMPORTANT MORMON ARCHIVE. ALLEY, George. Archive of 23 Autograph Letters Signed by Mormon Convert George Alley to His Brother Joseph Alley. $10,000 to $20,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [AVIATION]. [ARMSTRONG, Neil A.] Aviation Hall of Fame Gold Medal MS64 NGC, Awarded to Neil Armstrong in 1979. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: NEWLY DISCOVERED FIRST PRINTING OF "WITH MALICE TOWARDS NONE... " FROM THE ONLY NEWSPAPER ACTUALLY ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN LINCOLN’S SECOND INAUGURAL PROCESSION. $4,000 to $8,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: THE MOST IMPORTANT GEORGE WASHINGTON DOCUMENT IN PRIVATE HANDS; GEORGE WASHINGTON’S COMMISSION AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF, 1775, ONE OF ONLY TWO ORIGINALS. $150,000 to $250,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: A VERY RARE ACCOUNT OF BLACKBEARD’S DEATH AND ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PIRATE ITEMS EXTANT. $3,000 to $5,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: EDISON, Thomas. Patent for Edison’s Improvements on the Electric-Light, No. 219,628. [Washington, D.C.: U.S. Patent Office], 16 September 1879. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [VIETNAM WAR]. The original pen used by Secretary of State William P. Rogers to sign the Vietnam Peace Agreement, Paris, 27 January 1973. $10,000 to $15,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: SONS OF LIBERTY FOUNDER COLONEL BARRÉ ANNOTATED TITLE-PAGE, “WHICH OUGHT TO ROUSE UP BRITISH ATTENTION”. $4,000 to $6,000.

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