Rare Book Monthly
<b><font color=996600>Æ</font></b>: On the March - Changes are Coming
By Bruce McKinney
On September 3rd, 2003 Æ will be one year old. It has been an exciting and surprising experience. We view these first twelve months as a learning year and it has certainly been educational. It seems to be like the early years of the automobile business where many people tried to make cars. Most of these attempts ended in failure although the automobile business turned into a giant international industry. We have no doubt the internet will someday be the dominant marketplace for books and for many other things.
Æ introduced MatchMaker on June 1st and it is turning out to be a significant new tool for book collecting. Briefly, MatchMaker permits Æ Database members to first search our database by "keywords" or book specifics to bring up “matching” materials that are interesting. From these materials, those of interest can then both be uploaded to the internet as a "wants list" and to our “auction watch” to be matched against upcoming auctions. This is undoubtedly the future route of book collecting although many current collectors will be intimidated by the methodology. The technique is simply too cost and time efficient to ignore.
The Æ Database (our database) currently offers 388,000 full text records. By mid-September the number of records in the database will reach 600,000 and by the end of the year one million. These easily searched records function both as a traditional database, where if you know what you are looking for you can find it, but also as a fully searchable database for very untraditional searches. For instance, you can search for references to a specific place such as "Catskill", a specific person such as "Paraclete Potter", or a specific event, "Tippecanoe", and find many records in the database. Such searches are the bedrock upon which unique, and highly personal, book collections in the Americana field are developed. They are the new way to define a potential collection.
Self-Defined Search Terms for Automatic Evaluation of Upcoming Auction Material - Every business day there is a book auction somewhere in the world. We follow virtually all book auctions and include, effective September 1st, 2003, about 75% of them. Over the past year (September 2002 to August 2003) we have covered only the 35% of auction lots that fit loosely within the description of Americana. Effective September 1st most fiction including science fiction, mystery, poetry, drama and children’s books, whether European or American, virtually all Americana and many non-fiction collecting specialties will be covered including science & medicine, maps & geography, art & architecture, bibliography and sports of all kinds. We provide a "KEYWORD" system that permits and encourages members to use personally selected terms to search upcoming auction lots for material of interest. For instance, one collector may seek “poetry” simply using this single word to see every relating lot that contains this word. Another collector may collect “Dickens” and yet another material relating to “St. Louis." As some collecting strategies, like St. Louis, may require more search terms, we provide 35 personally selected terms for an entry level subscription and 200 for those who pursue more broad and complex materials. These "KEYWORDS" will trigger matches in upcoming auction descriptions that will be immediately sent to members for their consideration.
Once you have selected materials of interest MatchMaker uploads them to the net where you may quickly find matches.