MatchMaker - A Month Old

- by Bruce E. McKinney

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By Bruce McKinney

A month ago MatchMaker was introduced as a new service on the Æ. MatchMaker currently allows Æ Database members to select up to 250 items from among the 385,000 records currently in the ÆD and upload them as a “Wants List” both to the internet and to our own Auctions Watch. If a copy is on ABE or is listed in an upcoming auction we’ll notify you within 6 hours that a “match” has been located. For auctions we also let you post Keywords that reflect your interests. Keywords cast a wider net. When the service regularly begins on August 1st, it will be possible to post up to 2,000 wants and a significant number of Keywords.

For the past month I’ve had about 1,000 wants posted. About a third relate to the Hudson Valley and the State of New York, a smaller group to Selma, Alabama, and a larger group to Baltimore. During that time I’ve had about 80 matches, some of which are duplicates and some that are plainly inaccurate. During the month the inaccuracies have declined to the point where most matches the past ten days have been true matches. But even when they aren’t accurate it is easy and instant to delete them.

Some of the matches are for expensive material and I find I have no problem ignoring them. Perhaps in time, if only expensive copies are offered, I’ll change my mind. But not now, and I think, not in the foreseeable future. Using this system I’m buying more books than I usually buy and I’m paying much less for them. Such an approach is resolving one of the most vexing problems in book collecting – staying on target. With a focused list based upon my own collecting preferences I can pursue a direction or directions that are entirely my own.

The ÆD is actually turning out to be the universal collecting guide to the field of American books, manuscripts and ephemera. It is making it possible to configure the Æ Database to create a collecting list (more properly called a selected bibliography) on virtually any subject relating to America and the Americas when the goal is material printed before 1925.

While it is dense with information on virtually all related subjects it can be searched in easily more than 10,000 unique ways. It is literally searchable by every place name, every keyword and every individual name that may ever have appeared in title, author, printer, description or notes fields in hundreds of thousands of full text records in the ÆD. It is therefore potentially different for every person who uses it.