Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2022 Issue

Winning when you collect


Understanding the market is essential

Collections, random or life-long pursuits are often given away or forgotten because there aren’t many alternatives for selling them for meaningful amounts of money.  This is easy to be misunderstand when you look on the internet.  Everything has a price and therefore there must be a buyer.  After all, you have been buying that way so there must be others equally interested.  Sometimes yes, sometimes no. 


In fact, listing sites are a kind of a mirage suggesting liquidity.  Certainly sellers are willing to part with their prizes for the prices they offer but no listing sites have had the courage to report and track listing history because that history would be dispiriting to sellers, acknowledging it’s much tougher to sell than to buy. 


Said this way, when you look for real estate don’t you usually ask, how long has it been available?  If no one has wanted it for 30 days, should you be mindful of this?  Yes. 


Would you pay the asking price if the book you found has been listed for 5 years?  Emotionally,  possibly yes, logically no, not at least until a negotiation.  A longer length of time listed implies it hasn’t sounded appealing at that price to browsers for a long, long time.  The same is true about collectible paper offered on line. 


More concerning, your copy or example, if ever listed again, may be equally difficult to sell online for the price you paid.  If so, if you someday offer your copy online at the price you paid expect it may take you the same 5 years, it took your seller. 


Collecting is deeply personal and collectors and their eventual heirs both will hope to find financial success at the end of the day but more often than not that’s not the way it works out.  Many collections and remnants, probably a strong MOST are given away or forgotten without regret because for the collector, collecting has been an emotional enterprise, not a financial pursuit, a reward for hard work, luck or both, the opportunity to unfurl the flag, conveying intelligence, discernment, sophistication and often success.  Collecting has long had an honored place in human experience.


To limit a collection’s downside, be mindful of both price and value.  They are not the same thing.  Professional advice, careful comparison, and use of Transactions+ all help.  Done well, you can be one of the collectors whose passion turns into profit.


Someday a listing site will require and capture selling history.  They will be attacked and later worshipped.  

Posted On: 2022-07-04 01:28
User Name: bukowski

Such sites already exist.

Rare Book Monthly

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