Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2003 Issue

Capturing Valuable Information: The Key to Reselling

Cdb

Book Collectors who don't keep careful records are hanging on by a thread.


By Bruce McKinney

Today we introduce Collector’s Database software. The idea is very simple. When you buy a book immediately capture all information provided with the book or ephemera because an item that is authenticated and described is worth much more than an item that is not. The description may have been why you bought this item in the first place. It was in effect your guarantee. You felt comfortable to pay a good price because you felt you understood what it was. Now think ahead to when you sell it. Don’t you think the person who buys it from you will feel the same way? You won’t throw away your car warranty. Don’t be careless with the descriptions of your books either. Unless you are an expert and can credibly authenticate your material, keep the authentication you relied upon when you made your purchase. You can use this description in quotes when you resell. Your book collecting can be rewarding emotionally, intellectually and financially if you keep careful records.

Most collected books become part of estates. Your lawyer, your spouse and your children will all be grateful that you are fastidious about documenting your collection. You ensure they will receive the value you are working to develop. Even if you don’t choose to remarket your books yourself a well described collection is going to be more attractive to both dealers and auction houses and much easier to solicit opinions about. The new AE Collectors Database both provides an easy way to capture information about your purchases and then the option to permit selected (invited) participants to view your collection. Basically what we say is this: carefully record what you have and make it easy for would-be buyers to see and understand it. There are more than 40 active book auction houses. With this software you can solicit opinions from every auction house in the world simply by contacting them by phone, letter or email (once they get used to the idea that things besides junk mail arrive under the banner YOU’VE GOT MAIL!) Once you’ve made contact, you can email them a link. It is very protected and efficient. Going forward, at any time, for any reason, you can withdraw access.

But selling at auction takes time, probably in the range of nine months, and the selling price is not guaranteed, so you may want to solicit bids from dealers. Selling to dealers can make a great deal of sense. Dealers may be interested to buy your entire collection but, with our version of open software, you can also think about selling single volumes. If you let a group of 15 or 20 dealers have a look at your collection, some of them may suggest that certain of your books will be of interest to their clients. With reputable dealers, consignment arrangements may be appropriate.

Of course, you can also remarket your collection yourselves. Collectors generally won’t. Collector-dealers will. What is the difference? A collector-dealer will be willing to work at selling the collection themselves and they will enter this arena with no specific expectation about the time it will take to complete the sale. You’ll be able to offer your material on various listing sites such as ABE and even eBay if your material is a good fit with what sells there.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> <i>Manhattan Gay Scene Guide 1969, Summer Edition,</i> Mattachine Book Service. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Harvey Milk, 2 autograph letters signed, to Pat Mormon, during US Navy service, 1954. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Oscar Wilde, <i>“The secret of life is in Art,”</i> autograph quotation dated and signed, 1882. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Daniel Abraham, original art for <i>Stonewall Romances,</i> pen, ink & gouache, 1979. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Antonio Lopez, 9 men’s fashion studies, graphite, 1974. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Susie Gaynes & Amy E. Bartell, <i>March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights,</i> 1987. $600 to $900.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> <i>Paris is Burning,</i> photo offset poster by Anne Dutlinger, signed by film director Jennie Livingston, 1991. $400 to $600.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Toyen, pen & ink illustration from <i>Marquis de Sade: Justina cili prokletí ctnosti,</i> 1932. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> David Wojnarowicz, <i>Untitled (Genet with Dog),</i> mixed media collage. $8,000 to $12,000.

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