The Numbers are Way Up: Way Up

- by Bruce E. McKinney


Rare Book Hub is the combination of facts and numbers about books and recently the number of auctions covering books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera has rapidly increased this year.  To illustrate this I’m showing the number of auctions posted on Rare Book Hub between January 1st to May 31st for the past 5 years.  We have typically seen an 8% increase year over year.


During 2021 this number has increased a further 29.56%.  That’s a very large increase on what had already become a large number.


Here are the numbers:



Auctions Posted at Rare Book Hub by Month

% Increase






















There are several reasons for this.


Transparency has benefits:


We, as a reporting site for the collectible paper field, by aggregating data, show comparative success and failure, in ways that are easy to understand.  I have no doubt decisionmakers use this information to adjust their planning.  Simply stated:  facts clarify and performance improves.


It’s recently become much easier to become an auction house:


The simplifying of posting online auctions has become a big story.  Becoming an auction house was once a perilous decision.  Today the major auction posting services can turn an eBayer into a profitable fully functioning auction house in a matter of months.


And the trend looks to continue to strengthen.


It’s logical that the upper echelon of dealers in rare books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera worldwide, will become auction houses themselves.  For them, auctions will be one of their tools, among listing on the major bookselling sites, posting on their own sites, participating both in person and online bookfairs, as well continuing to develop interesting printed and eCatalogues.  Auctions will become one of the arrows in their quiver.


The numbers are telling an interesting story.