The AE Book Collector Survey Conducted at the Recent ABAA Show in San Francisco

- by Bruce E. McKinney


The 36th ABAA International Book Fair

As to from whom/where they buy it is not surprising that most respondents said they buy from dealers. At this dealer show, no other option was available. Here is how they answered:

From dealers 91%
At auction 33%
Opportunistically 29% (such as garage sales)
On Line 47%

Online Sources % of all respondents % of those who buy online
ABE 31% 67%
eBay 27% 57%
Bibliofind* 16% 33%
ABAA 11% 24%
ILAB 4% 10%
WBD 4%10%
Bookfinder 11% 24%

We were surprised that eBay showed so strongly. This may be a California bias, may reflect eBay’s promotion at the show, or may simply be a stealth trend. After all, eBay advertises that it has 65 million signed-up users. That doesn’t leave a lot of people to not be signed-up. We failed to include Alibris among the alternatives, our error. Several people we spoke with mentioned them and certainly many more would have had that option been available. Our apologies to Alibris. They are on the map and we suspect are becoming a factor among online sources in the rare books field.

As to the question “Are book fairs more important, less important or about the same?” the results were very random. Forty-two percent didn’t answer the question at all. Thirty-three percent said fairs are more important, 16% said less important and 9% said their importance remains unchanged.
As to the categories respondents collect:

Americana & European-Americana14%
Children’s Books & Chap Books 5%
Medicine and Science Books7%
Travel and Voyages13%
Maps 12%
Sports Books 3%
Biographies 5%
Fiction 14%
Religious or Ethnic Books or Bibles2%
Books with Images 9%
Incunabula 2%
Other 6%