Rare Book Monthly
Articles - November - 2006 Issue
Creating Special Purpose Catalogues
By Bruce McKinney
Inventories are broad, collector interests increasingly specific. The internet, that both intensified the trend toward specialization and increasingly satisfies it, does not provide all the benefits that printed catalogues do. Almost every collector values the printed presentation, tucks the just arrived catalogue into a briefcase or sets it on the bedstead to be enjoyed like a movie. Reading a catalogue is simply one of the great pleasures of book collecting. It is also, for the bookseller, an uncertain enterprise and beyond the reach of most dealers. After all, you need a sufficient audience, interesting material, and the ability to tell a lively story. It is also expensive, time consuming and by custom, requires that the material to be included not be sold in advance.
For AE's Matchmaker members there is an interesting alternative: the special purpose catalogue that can be prepared for a specific purpose. Dealers who keep a copy of their inventory in AE's Books for Sale database now have a new set of tools for responding to client interests. Here is how it works.
We now provide easy steps to create focused presentations very efficiently. Your entire inventory is accessible to you as a personal and very flexible database. Your books are in your master file in your account's Web Catalogue. Select the link and open your inventory.
You can create catalogues for any purpose. Dealers who would like to issue catalogues can now do so very efficiently simply by running broad searches and selecting material for inclusion. Material included in one catalogue can appear in others at the same time so Walt Whitman might be included in Civil War presentations and catalogues on poetry.
It is just as possible to create catalogues for a single client. The selections are probably different, in effect customized to a collector's preferences. In the final analysis the only significant difference is that it's emailed to one recipient rather than to your entire mailing list. Because a dealer knows both their inventory and often a collector's requirements such catalogues amount to a recommendation of material to consider. Internet listings are complex and deep but they are also undifferentiated. Catalogues provide a medium for creating differentiation.
So if you have a client for Massachusetts railroads run searches in your listings using whatever terms you feel appropriate. Include material from Vermont and New Hampshire and add other material that overlaps partially. In this way you provide a combination of material a collector would rarely unearth themselves.