Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2021 Issue

Is This the Long-Distant Future of Collecting?

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Is this the appearance of tomorrow's collectible books?

There was an article in Forbes recently that addresses the issue of changes in patterns of long-term collecting. This is not one of those will people be more interested in fiction or non-fiction, or will they still be interested in James Bond and Harry Potter five or ten years from now. No, this is seriously long term, such that I won't have to worry about it, and probably neither will you unless you are much younger than I. This change won't even begin until sometime after the year 2065 and even then it will take time to gather some steam. Nevertheless, a little blue skying is fascinating once in a while.

 

The title of this article is NFT “Idea Tokens” Are Not Just Here To Stay. They Are The Future Of The Economy, the author Amir Husain, founder and CEO of an artificial intelligence company. That sounds extreme if not totally unbelievable, but hear him out. There will be changes in the next 50 years we can't even imagine today. The shortcoming here may be that he is too hidebound by today's knowledge rather than too far out. NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are those digital signatures that make a digital or virtual “thing” unique. They are a big thing in 2021, but may be long since passé by 2065, the target date.

 

That date was selected based on some predictions that this is the point when earth's human population will peak, to then begin a decline. This seems reasonable as overpopulation in some areas is not sustainable, and as incomes rise, families get smaller. Some industrialized nations no longer produce enough children to maintain their population at current levels.

 

Economic growth over the past few centuries has been based on population growth. What happens when the population starts to shrink, too few people chasing an overabundance of goods and services? Will gold maintain its value when there are fewer people wanting it? Will the value of agricultural land continue to increase when less food is needed while production efficiency continues to rise? Perhaps the answer is to increase per capita consumption, but consumption of what? We can't (or shouldn't) eat more food than we already do. Will we need more cars when there are unmanned aerial vehicles waiting to take us where we want to go? And, if we produce more and more goods, where will we put them all?

 

That leads us to Husain's NFT theory of how people will spend their money. He explains, “One example of a formless, infinitely varied class of goods is virtual, digital artifacts that are represented only as data. These goods can be created in any quantity, solely by converting energy into unique, one-of-a-kind tokens that impart ownership. These tokens can represent ideas, discoveries, art, music, and in fact, entire collections of such goods. They can allow individual, exclusive ownership, easy transferability, efficient storage and demand no maintenance.” He continues, “But why would people want vast quantities of such tokens?” That leads to a quote about books that caught my eye, “Book collectors can never have enough books. They will pay more for first editions and copies signed by the author. Art appreciates.”

 

In this scenario, NFTs are the new books. But that doesn't mean books disappear. There can be NFT books too. It just requires a digital copy of a book rather than a physical one. In other words, people can collect electronic books instead.

 

Does that sound far-fetched? Maybe not. Something else recently caught my eye. It's called Calibre. It is described as “an open source e-book library management application that enables you to manage your e-book collection, convert e-books between different formats, synchronize with popular e-book reader devices, and read your e-books with the included viewer. It acts as an e-library...”

 

You can now keep your e-book collection in an e-library. You can have your reading copies and your collectible token ones (which you can read too without damaging them). You can buy, sell, collect and dispose, just like with physical books. It is book collecting for the digital age, for people who grew up living in a virtual world.

 

Will this come to pass? I don't think so, but not for the reason you might think, that as an older person, this all seems ridiculous to me. Actually, it's quite the opposite. Looking back 50 years ago, all sorts of technological advances have occurred that no one thought of back then. Who imagined the internet? How about cell phones, let alone smart phones? Even personal computers were a stretch then. Social media? Video games let alone online ones? Virtual reality? Augmented reality? Artificial intelligence? The weakness in Husain's argument, in my opinion, is that his future is all based on today's technology. As we know, technology advances, and those advances come faster and furiouser, not slower. The world of 2065 will look so different from today's, and the idea that NFTs will survive, let alone prosper, seems dubious. They are more likely to be the equivalent of eight-track tapes and boomboxes, a fad left in the dust by something better.


Posted On: 2021-09-01 22:49
User Name: artbooks1

Some day Junior, when ahm gone, all these nfts will be yours...or maybe you want the Andy Warhols and your sister can have the nfts?


Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Graphic Design<br>May 19, 2022</b>
    <b>Swann May 19:</b> Adolphe Mouron Cassandre, <i>Triplex,</i> pencil maquette, 1930. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann May 19:</b> Claude Fayette Brandon, <i>The Chap Book,</i> circa 1895. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann May 19:</b> Various Artists, a complete set of <i>Das Plakat,</i> set of 10 hardcover volumes, 1912-21. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann May 19:</b> Javier Gómez Acebo & Máximo Viejo Santamarta, <i>San Sebastian / XI Circuitto Automovilista,</i> 1935. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann May 19:</b> Ephraim Moses Lilien, <i>Berliner Tageblatt,</i> circa 1899. $12,000 to $18,000.
  • <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>26th May 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Birds.- Gould (John). <i>The Birds of Great Britain,</i> 5 vol., first edition, [1862-]1873. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Canadiana.- Cockburn (Maj. Gen. James Pattison, 1779-1847), After. [Six Landscape of Quebec City and Six Views of Niagara Falls], 2 suites in 1 vol., comprising 12 aquatints, 1833. £30,000 to £40,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Joyce (James). <i>Ulysses,</i> number 218 of 150 copies on verge d'arches, Paris, Shakespeare & Company, 1922. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>26th May 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Rowling (J.K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,</i> first paperback edition, signed by the author, 1997. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Du Maurier (Daphne). <i>Rebecca,</i> first edition, signed presentation inscription from the author to her governess, 1938. £12,000 to £18,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Magna Carta.- An exact copy of King John's Great Charter of 1215, transcribed from the fire damaged but legible manuscript in the Cottonian Library, British Library, J. Pine, 1733. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>26th May 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Woolf (Virginia). <i>Mrs Dalloway,</i> first edition, Hogarth Press, 1925. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Tudor exiles opposed to the Marian regime.- Mary I (Queen of England) Letter signed "Marye the Quene" to Lord Paget, signed at head, titled at head "By the King and Quene", 1556. £8,000 to £10,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> America.- Newfoundland.- Whitbourne (Sir Richard). <i>A discourse and discouery of Nevv-found-land…,</i> second edition, By Felix Kingston, 1622. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>26th May 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Cervantès Saavedra (Miguel de). <i>El Ingenioso Hidalgo Do Quixote de la Mancha,</i> 4 vol., Madrid, Por Don Joaquin Ibarra, 1780. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Stubbs (George). <i>The Anatomy of the Horse,</i> first edition, first issue, Printed by J. Purser, for the Author, 1766. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Cardiology.- Lower (Richard). <i>Tractatus de Corde item De Motu & Colore Sanguinus et Chyli in cum Transitu,</i> first edition, 1669. £5,000 to £7,000.
  • <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 30</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>Initial A on vellum, Cologne around 1300. Est: €25,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>J. Androuet du Cerceau, <i> Bastiments de France,</i> 1607. Est: €12,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>E. Cerillo, <i>Dipinti murali di Pompei,</i> 1886. Est: €2,500
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 30</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>L. de Austria, <i>Compilatio de astrorum scientia,</i> 1489. Est: €9,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>B. Besler, <i>Hortus Eystettensis,</i> around 1750. Est: €50,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br><i>PAN,</i> 1895-1900. Est: €15,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 30</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>F. Colonna, <i>Hypnerotomachia Poliphili,</i> 1545. Est: €40,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>F. Schiller, <i>Die Räuber,</i> 1781. Est: €12,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>J. Albers, <i>Formulation : Articulation,</i> 1972. Est: €18,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 30</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>G. B. Ramusio, <i>Delle navigationi e viaggi,</i> 1556-1613. Est: €14,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>M. Wied Neuwied, <i>Reise in das Innere Nord-America,</i> 1839-41. Est: €12,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>E. Paolozzi, <i>Bunk,</i> 1972. Est: €25,000
  • <b><center>Sotheby’s<br> The Library of Henry Rogers<br>Broughton, 2nd Baron Fairhaven<br>Part I<br>18 May 2022</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 18:</b> John James Audubon and James Bachman. <i>The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America.</i> New York: J.J. Audubon, 1845-1848. £150,000 to £250,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 18:</b> Thomas and William Daniell. <i>Oriental Scenery,</i> London, 1795-1807 [but 1841], 6 parts in 3 volumes, folio. £150,000 to £200,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 18:</b> Mark Catesby. <i>The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands...</i> London, 1731-1743, 2 volumes. £100,000 to £150,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 18:</b> Gould and Lear. <i>A monograph of the Ramphastidae,</i> 1854; <i>Illustrations of the family of Psittacidae,</i> 1832. £60,000 to £90,000.

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