Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2006 Issue

A new tool for the book field

Words

The 30 second research project that increases hits and matches.


By Bruce McKinney

Both buyers and sellers carefully consider the terms they use when searching for or describing material. For a buyer search terms are the essential tool for book-locating while for sellers such terms are one of the ways their material is found. Both sides need them. Recently we added a Get Keywords link to the preliminary results pages on searches in the Americana Exchange Database [AED] to facilitate the identification of such terms in our more than 1.3 million full text records. This additional step takes a fraction of a second and displays, in declining order, all frequently appearing terms. It is immediately useful and will become more powerful over time. Here is how it works.

The AED is comprised of full text descriptions of material that has been offered at auction and in dealer catalogues, included in bibliographies and collector catalogues. These descriptions represent the compiler's best efforts to accurately describe and illuminate the importance of material. To build these descriptions the authors used terms they deemed useful and important -- in effect key words and they did so based on experience, advice, research and comparison. Now you can unearth these terms by running searches in the AED, selecting applicable records and Get AE Keywords. We then parse these records to instantly create a list of terms appearing in them. For sellers, this is a list that contains terms to include in selling descriptions or as keyword addenda with descriptions. For buyers it is a list of keywords by which to search the various selling sites to unearth potentially interesting material. Whether a buyer or a seller this is an effective tool.

For eBay auction sellers, all of whom list invisibly and for a limited time, attaching term lists will immediately increase visibility, traffic and probably prices. On listing sites, where books sometimes wait years for a buyer, sellers tend to be patient. On eBay the item is up for sale now. Bidders must be located today. For eBay sellers, keywords increase visibility and traffic immediately because they broaden the basis for matching while remaining accurate and faithful to the descriptions used to define and describe this material in the past. This is not a theoretical advantage and it is not key word stuffing. It is an immediate boost.

These keywords are equally useful for increasing listing site traffic. To the extent buyers know what they are looking for they should be able to find appropriate listings whether they are brief or extended. If however they are searching with more general terms it then becomes important to have all the logical terms a potential buyer may employ to identify appropriate material. At a guess, edited term lists will increase sightings and sell-through by perhaps 10% a year. Such terms will certainly increase the visibility of those sellers who employ them. Perhaps the greatest difference may be in the ability to sell more common material by lifting it into the sightline of buyers. When many copies are available higher visibility is particularly helpful.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> hand-painted collage. Sold for a record $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Couple passing a giant bird house,</i> watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1948. Sold for $16,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Miriam Troop, <i>Rain on Laundry Day,</i> oil on canvas, cover for <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1940. Sold for $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Rockwell Kent, <i>To All Fascists,</i> ink broadside for The League of American Writers, circa 1937. Sold for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Jo Mielziner, <i>Pet Shop Drop,</i> backdrop design for <i>Pal Joey</i> on Broadway, 1940. Sold for a record $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Lee Brown Coye, acrylic cover illustration for the 25th anniversary of <i>Weird Tales,</i> 1944. Sold for $18,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Virgil Finlay, <i>The Outsider & Others,</i> pen & ink dust jacket illustration for H.P. Lovecraft's book, 1939. Sold for $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Al Hirschfeld, <i>Paul Robeson as Othello,</i> illustration for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1942. Sold for $68,750
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Frederic Remington, pen & ink illustration for <i>A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers</i> in <i>The Century</i> magazine, 1889. Sold for $17,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> EARLY AVIATION PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE. Chronicling 20th century aviation from the earliest Wright Brothers images through commercial and military applications. $50,000 to $70,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> FIRST TELEPHONE CALL TO THE MOON. Partial transcription signed by Apollo 11 astronauts and President Nixon. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> SPUTNIK-1 EMC/EMI LAB MODEL, 1957. Full scale vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite, Moscow, [February, 1957]. $400,000 to $600,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> Apollo 11 Beta cloth crew emblem, SIGNED BY THE ENTIRE APOLLO 11 CREW. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> GEMINI 1/8 SCALE MODEL. Rarely seen large-scale contractor's model. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.

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