Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2003 Issue

Abebooks: Internet Visionaries

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AE Monthly Feature Article


To provide an example: a bookseller lists a book for $100, a buyer purchases it for $100. The bookseller gets $95 and Abebooks gets $5.

We haven’t change our monthly costs for booksellers who list their books:
  0-500 books      US$  25.00
  501-4,000        US$  37.00
  4,001-10,000     US$  42.00
  10,001-20,000    US$  53.00
  20,001-30,000    US$  80.00
  30,001-50,000    US$ 125.00
  50,001-100,000   US$ 175.00
  100,001-150,000  US$ 225.00
  150,001+         US$ 300.00 
AEM: Do you have any statistics about the different kinds of books that are listed on Abebooks?

ABEBOOKS: We have a general idea, but nothing statistical yet about genres, specialties, etc.

AEM: In the past book collecting was a personal and kind of intimate business and passion. The dealer knew his customer, their collecting ambitions and their budget. Now, with the internet, book selling and book buying have become relatively anonymous. There is anecdotal evidence that the loss of connection between buyer and seller is destructive to the old collecting patterns while new collecting patterns have yet to be clearly defined and understood. What is ABE’s opinion?

ABEBOOKS: Since Abebooks was created by booksellers (Cathy Waters, wife of Keith Waters one of the founders of Abebooks, owned an antiquarian bookstore here in Victoria and is still in the book business), the company’s roots came from our passion for books. Abebooks is rooted in a passion for books and bookselling.

We’re happy to be unique and we work hard to keep our booksellers visible online. That’s why we post bookseller profiles, and continue to show the buyer the name of the bookstore that a book is available from. (This isn’t so common on other book sites.)

As for losing the “intimacy” of book collecting, we have found that in some cases the Internet has enhanced the search, rather than taken away from it. I’ve spoken with serious collectors who will do their research online, find their books, contact the sellers, then go to see the books in person. In the past, some of this interaction took place via the mail (and still does). So the contact is still there, and I believe the intimacy is too, but perhaps the speed has changed.

We joke that if we could reproduce the smell of musty books online, we would! And we’d love to have a “virtual cat” purring in the corner or wandering through our site!

We’ve also given thought to the idea that the Internet is causing people to close their book shops. We decided to look into this by speaking with our booksellers and found that in many cases the reverse occurs: by being able to make significant sales using the Internet, bookstores are able to keep their physical shops open and continue to pay their rent. We have especially heard this from booksellers who operate stores that are close to some of the larger, big box bookstore retailers.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Rackham (Arthur). The Old Hag Standing Outside a Cottage, original drawing, signed by the artist, [c.1909]. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Rowling (J.K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,</i> FIRST EDITION, first printing, signed by the author, original pictorial wrappers, 1997. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Castiglione (Giuseppe, after). Twelve plates from <i>Twenty views of the European Palaces of the Yuanming yuan,</i> 1783-1786. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Spanish Antiphonal.- Antiphonal manuscript, [Spain], ca. 1650. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Almanach de Gotha.- Almost complete run 1769 to 1945, 12mo & 8vo, Gotha, C.W. Ettinger [- Justus Perthes]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Bible, Greek.- New Testament [Greek], Novum Iesu Christi D.N. testamentum, ex bibliotheca regia, 2 parts in one, Robert Estienne, Paris, 1550. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Lithgow (William). <i>The Total Discourse of the rare Adventures… from Scotland, to the most famous kingdoms in Europe, Asia, and Affrica…,</i> woodcut illustrations, 4to, I. Oakes, 1640. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Spanish Interest.-16th -18th Century. Large collection of letters related to prominent members of the Spanish court and clergymen,; v.s., late 16th-mid 18th century. £1,800 to £2,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Darwin (Charles). <i>The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex,</i> 2 vol., FIRST EDITION, first issue8vo, John Murray, 1871. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Loewy (Raymond) ARR. Mickey Mouse, original gouache and air brush illustration of Mickey Mouse, signed by artist., n.p. [1946]. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Potter (Beatrix) & Sendak (Maurice). <i>The Tale of Peter Rabbit,</i> NUMBER 2 OF 250 SIGNED COPIES, WITH AN ORIGINAL DRAWING BY SENDAK, New York, 1995. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Wolstenholm (Jonathan) ARR. Books on Books, original watercolor, signed and dated by the artist, 2005.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.

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