Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2008 Issue

Book Fairs: The World Intrudes

Ready or not, information arrives!


By Bruce McKinney

You can be forgiven for thinking that book fairs are unchanging, even immutable and to the casual observer they may look that way. They are in fact a battleground of changing technology that advances on tiptoe at the speed of light. For years publicly accessible databases and pricing history have generally been excluded from shows. Until recently the availability of 'high speed connections' was controlled by promoters sensitive to the majority of show exhibitors who rejected the idea out-of-hand. As a result such access was prohibited, limited or frowned upon. Changing technologies though are shifting control from promoter to visitor and exhibitor. This occurs as book collectors switch to smart phones and sign-up for text messaging and internet access. With such services anyone can instantly confirm availability and price on listing sites and sales history in databases such as the Americana Exchange offers. Not many, though, currently do this via phone. For most this is a future thing although it seems not so far off. For most book collectors the internet is something they access by computer and they don't yet think of telephones as computers. They are and database access via phone is now just a several degrees of separation away.

Be that as it may the flow of information is not waiting for collectors to switch to sophisticated phones. Exhibitor Connect of Los Angeles recently introduced powerful high-speed modems at $99 a day specifically for show exhibitors who wish to provide on the spot research for their clients. With this service only a show promoter's absolute prohibition will keep any single exhibitor from providing access at their booth. Gone is the lame excuse that the service is not available. It is and requires no hook-ups or connections, just an electric socket.

In this way the collector who lacks a smart phone may yet access internet services. Inevitably such access will become a competitive issue among show promoters. It's an attraction to sophisticated collectors and some organizers will provide it to attract larger audiences.

It will inevitably engender initial antagonism among dealers who view the internet as competition but everyone knows that collectors increasingly view material, take notes and negotiate later. The presence of internet access may even promote transactions by shortening the process and encouraging discussion.

For those who wish to carry their access Apple Computer offers a pricey but easy to use phone, the I-Phone, that provides a bright easy to use touch screen with a keypad that is large enough to feel real. In July Apple is expected to introduce the next generation of I-Phones which will run on a faster network. This will bring down the cost of current I-Phones into the $300-$400 range. Their service plans begin at $60 a month and for most people are sufficient. An alternative is the Blackberry 8220, a fast easy to use phone that converts the phone in your pocket into the telephone receptionist that never sleeps. Emails are "pushed" onto your phone as soon as they arrive and the internet is a click away. The price of this marvel is $200 after rebate, the monthly service all in, with unlimited email, is a buck a day.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions