So This Is Day One In The World Of Book Collecting...
By Bruce McKinney
So this is day one in the new world of book collecting. It doesn’t seem to be much different to me. I like to collect books. I did before and I do now. So what exactly is different? The AE Database on this site can answer many questions but it doesn’t tell me what questions to ask. For those who are interested in Americana there are always things around to consider purchasing but not many clear, easy and relatively instant ways to know if a book I’m being shown logically fits into what I’m trying to collect. The world of Americana is relatively small. The total titles that can by any stretch be connected to this field is probably less, and probably significantly less, than 400,000 for titles printed before 1925 but this is still a lot of material. But for collectors the field can feel as big as an ocean when their interests are potentially all of but not more than a mountain lake.
I have always faced a blizzard of collecting possibilities. Early on I focused on imprints because they are self-limiting. Of course book collecting is an itch that has to be periodically scratched so I couldn’t set my parameters too precisely. Over the years I have tended to buy all kinds of imprints if they looked like they came out of small shops. They have always looked interesting to me and they still do.
But now I’m standing on the outside looking at the entire field of Americana. Using the ÆD, I can select very defined parameters in the field of Americana and I can run searches to see what is in a particular field, see what many of the listed titles have cost in the past, and then build a "Wants List" of interesting items that I can then post both to the internet and to be compared to upcoming auctions for a full year. Then if any titles matching my descriptions are posted I’m to be notified within a few hours. What is this miraculous process called? It’s called MatchMaker and it works very well. It is introduced and described elsewhere in ÆM this month.
To see what is in the ÆD today, I run "Keyword" searches in the ÆD for various places. This is what I find: San Jose 286; New Haven 1,500+; Little Rock 232; Trenton 992; New Castle 317; and Omaha 735. These searches are probably the most exhaustive analysis of material you can readily obtain. And because the Æ Database is augmented each week, the number of records in every area of interest increases steadily. I only have to periodically rerun my "Keyword" searches, identify new material and then add these titles to my "Wants Lists". In other words, I can start with a substantial list and see it grow over time.
I’ve been working with this Æ Database software, in prototype form, for several months and I have already identified several interesting items that I’ve purchased on the net. I’m finding that I have to work at this a bit though. This MatchMaker software is beginning to take me very deeply into a relatively narrow field. I find I like this because I seem to be quickly becoming more knowledgeable about this small area than most dealers are. I’m also finding that periodically I want to go back to look at the results in the Æ Database searches to look for clues to other material. For instance I found that Fishkill is also spelled Fish-kills and Fish-kill. Fishkill currently has 79 matches, Fish-kill 52 and Fish-kills 7. In time my "Wants List" for the Hudson Valley are going to reach 1,000 titles. Right now it is at about 325.