Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2007 Issue

AE: It's on to Year Six

Embrace the future. You'll get fewer splinters!


By Bruce McKinney

At the stroke of midnight over the evening of September 2nd as the second hand plows on into the 3rd in San Francisco, in Australia it's already late afternoon, rush hour in Europe and 3 am of New York. The sweep of the second hand carries the Americana Exchange into the first moments of its sixth year. We came up on the morning of September 3rd, 2002, green as grass and naïve as a Nebraska farmer in Hollywood. Well Toto, five years later our eyes are wide open. The Yellow Brick Road is still shrouded in darkness but we now tread the path toward what the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi might call enlightenment. It's been an interesting trip. This day approaches on the wings of angels and the fingers of the inquisitive and enlightened who increasingly prefer to fly rather than walk to their research destinations. It has been interesting to be early and a privilege to work with so many advocates of the emerging electronic world. These days we approach our 10,000th member with gratitude and expectation. We frankly thought the flight would be more like a rocket than a kite but we are nevertheless grateful to be airborne.

We began with 151,000 records in the online Americana Exchange Database [AED] and auction notices based on categories. In 2003 we added the sequential keyword search in the AED, the auction calendar and the first version of MatchMaker. In 2004 we added the unified search of upcoming documented auction lots as well as Footnotes, a documentation tool for the serious description writer. In 2005 we added the International Bookseller's Directory and "Get Current Estimate" to convert older priced records in the AED into present value. In 2006 we added the Books for Sale database for our premium members to list their material for sale on a commission-free basis. We also added the interactive Book Fair List and the Book Fair Calendar. This year, in a separate article in this issue, we discuss cell phone access to the AED using a separate set of reduced size internet pages. It was officially released on September 1st. The AED today is 1,634,528 records and of course always growing.

The internet is a writhing mass of possibilities, an intellectual Bronco Billy that requires constant commitment to change by evolution and revolution. For the past five years we have delivered a surprising series of innovations in the field. In the next five we will be striving to provide more of the same.

Finally, for the unconvinced we offer you this: our favorite reasons for not subscribing. They're fun.

Over the years we have heard some crazy reasons. No one ever quoted them all. Such a person [for their sake] hopefully does not exist. I have heard four of them quoted by one dealer and I wish him well. He needs our sympathy. Here then are ten of the more interesting reasons we have heard for not signing up for AE and the AED.

  1. It's too cheap. At that price it can't be any good.
  2. I'd rather not know.
  3. I need the exercise so I'll look it up in my references.
  4. I'd rather subscribe to more than one hundred auction houses' sales catalogues. Okay, get your credit card ready because they are expensive. And I bet you won't always receive or read them early enough to bid!
  5. I prefer to travel with my reference library in tow. That's a nice tandem trailer you have.
  6. I have total recall. Just remember to take your meds..
  7. I'm waiting for someone to tell me I need to do this.
  8. I like to overpay because it makes the books more valuable. And every book seller and auction house has your picture on a poster. You of course know what it says: Wanted!
  9. I am not really serious about the antiquarian book business.
  10. The newest reason. I don't need cell phone access. I don't even own a phone.
Truthfully, we no longer hear so many silly reasons for not subscribing. And it is a good thing. There are bargains to be bought and great clients to be found. To find the material and each other you simply need to be part of this online community. If you are already a member, please accept my thanks for your membership and support. If you are not, give yourself the chance to experience books, manuscripts and ephemera with us. It's very worthwhile.

Thank you.

Rare Book Monthly

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    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [RUTH, George Herman “Babe” (1895-1948)]. Signed photograph. Circa 1930s. 191 x 248 mm. $1,500 to $2,500.
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    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: FIRST PRINTING OF LINCOLN’S IMMORTAL GETTYSBURG ADDRESS. $4,000 to $6,000.
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    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: NEWLY DISCOVERED FIRST PRINTING OF "WITH MALICE TOWARDS NONE... " FROM THE ONLY NEWSPAPER ACTUALLY ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN LINCOLN’S SECOND INAUGURAL PROCESSION. $4,000 to $8,000.
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    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: EDISON, Thomas. Patent for Edison’s Improvements on the Electric-Light, No. 219,628. [Washington, D.C.: U.S. Patent Office], 16 September 1879. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [VIETNAM WAR]. The original pen used by Secretary of State William P. Rogers to sign the Vietnam Peace Agreement, Paris, 27 January 1973. $10,000 to $15,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: SONS OF LIBERTY FOUNDER COLONEL BARRÉ ANNOTATED TITLE-PAGE, “WHICH OUGHT TO ROUSE UP BRITISH ATTENTION”. $4,000 to $6,000.

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