Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2007 Issue

Take Control of Your Foreign Affairs, Part II

Selling globally requires knowledge of best currency conversion methods.


Although we are not speculators in the money market, we regularly need to know (and so do you) what our dollars will buy in foreign currencies and vice versa. As explained to me by Steven Dengler, CEO of XE.com, the exchange rate is not centrally regulated. It is like an enormous bazaar where buyers and sellers offer and sell currencies at different rates. The mid-market rates quoted by XE.com provide a mid-range guideline, a thumbnail sketch, for figuring out what it will cost to buy or sell. What you actually pay, however, depends entirely upon the methodology you use to make the exchange.

If you do not take control over the exchange methodology you are at the mercy of the bank, credit card company, or third-party site (or the price in dollars quoted by the vendor).

What we chose to do was to set up an account with XEtrade, (www.xetrade.xe.com), the on-line discount foreign exchange service of XE.com. XE.com is the world's most popular foreign exchange website. This is confirmed by all independent metrics companies, including giants like Alexa, Nielsen, and ComScore. As a transaction aggregator, XEtrade is able to give us the service, the focus, and the competitive rates that only the largest companies have heretofore enjoyed with their banks.

An XEtrade account is free and does not require us to change or alter our banking relationships. They do, however, require copies of personal identification and the same information one might supply to a bank when opening a new account. Once the account is set up, it can be used to perform any number of extremely useful bookselling functions.

Here are some examples:

We have a U.K. corporation and a bank account in L (United Kingdom pounds) in London we use for European sales. Routinely we transfer funds from the U.K. to our home bank here in Massachusetts. In the past I would initiate a transfer by faxing a signed request to the U.K. with the wire information of the USA bank. The U.K. bank would charge a fee, do the currency conversion and then send our money in $ (US dollars) to our bank here. Our home bank would also charge a fee for the incoming wire. The conversion rate was just what parties decide to charge (or think they can get away with). -- that is, the UK bank could give us pretty much any rate they wished at the time the conversion occurred. In retrospect, that was a pretty poor business methodology for us, but it had never occurred to us that we could do better.

With an XEtrade account the methodology and the results are very different. After creating the XEtrade account, I set up the USA bank as a wire beneficiary and the London bank as a wire source of funds. XEtrade is up 24/7, so I can initiate transactions at any hour. I identify the amount I wish to transfer and the source and target currencies, then select the source bank and the beneficiary bank from my pull-down lists. The site immediately quotes the exchange rate and the wire transfer fee. When I submit the transaction, a print-out is produced that I can fax to my bank in London.

Now, here's where the magic happens. My bank in London does not do a conversion and does not do a foreign wire, both of which are expensive. Instead, they wire funds in pounds sterling to another London bank, an account tied to XEtrade with a unique transaction number that identifies my entire funding process. It is a local wire.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Keats, John] Spenser, Edmund: The Works of that Famous English Poet, Mr. Edmond Spenser. $50,000 - $80,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: (Walton, Izaak): The Compleat Angler or the Contemplative man's Recreation. Being a Discourse of Fish and Fishing. $30,000 - $50,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: Thomas, Gabriel: An Historical and Geographical Account of the Province and Country of Pensilvania; and of West-New-Jersey in America. $25,000 - $35,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Carroll, Lewis]: The Game of Alice in Wonderland. $2,000 - $3,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: Athias, Joseph, et al.: Biblia Hebraica. $7,000 - $10,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Warhol, Andy, and Jens Quistgaard] Dansk Designs Salesman's Presentation Catalogue. $2,500 - $3,500.
  • Sotheby’s, June 26: Poe, Edgar Allan. Tamerlane — the most poignant rarity in American literature. 400,000 - 600,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: The Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." 2,500,000 - 5,000,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: William Blake. “Poems with very wild and interesting pictures” 1,200,000 - 1,800,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: Thomas Taylor [artist]. The original cover art for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 400,000 - 600,000 USD
  • Bonhams, June 15-25: 18th Century American Sea Captain's Journals of Voyages to Hawaii, China, and South America. $35,000 - $45,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Admiral Richard E. Byrd's Autograph Diary from Bolling Advance Base, Winter 1934. $40,000 - $60,000
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    Bonhams, June 15-25: Cellarius, Andreas. Harmonia macrocosmica seu atlas universalis et novus, totius universi creati cosmographiam generalem, et novam exhibens. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Nobelist George Stigler's Copy of Ricardo's Classic on the Science of Economics. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Histoire charmante de l'adolescente sucre d'amour. Paris: F. L. Schmied, 1927. $15,000 - $20,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Fine Copy of Walras's Classic on the Theory of Marginal Utility. $12,000 - $18,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Arion Press Moby Dick. Melville, Herman. $8,000 - $12,000
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    Bonhams, June 15-25: Carelton Watkins, Yosemite and the West. Portfolio of 21 imperial albumen prints. $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: An Unpublished Archive of Thornton Wilder Correspondence to F.J. O'Neil. $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Vesalius, Andreas. 1514-1564. Suorum de humani corporis fabrica librorum epitome. $100,000 - $150,000
  • Bonhams, June 25: Vesalius, Andreas. 1514-1564. De humani corporis fabrica libri septem. $200,000 - $300,000
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    Bonhams, June 25: Pare, Ambroise. C.1509-1590. La Methode Curative des Playes, et Fractures de la Teste humaine. Avec les pourtraits des Instruments necessaires pour la curation d'icelles. $25,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Reisch, Gregor. 1470-1525. Margarita Philosophica. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bright, Richard. 1789-1858. Reports of Medical Cases, Selected with a View of Illustrating the Symptoms and Cure of Diseases by a Reference to Morbid Anatomy. $12,000 - $18,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Berengario da Carpi, Giacomo. C. 1460-1530. Tractatus de fractura calve sive cranei. $10,000 - $15,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Vicq D'Azyr, Felix. 1748-1794. Traite d'antomie et de physiologie. $8,000 - $12,000
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    Bonhams, June 25: Schwann, Theodor. 1810-1882. Mikroskopische Untersuchungen uber die Ubereinstimmung in der Struktur und dem Wachsthum der Thiere und Pflanzen. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Cowper, William. 1666-1709. The Anatomy of Humane Bodies, with Figures Drawn after the Life… $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bidloo, Govard. 1649-1713. Anatomia humani corporis, centum & quinque tabulis, per artificiossis. G. de Lairesse ad vivum delineatis. $6,000 - $9,000

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