A Page from the Future
- by Bruce E. McKinney
A step toward appealing electronic catalogues
By Bruce McKinney
For years, the changing economics of booksellers’ catalogues have caused headaches for booksellers. In decades past, such catalogues were often substantial; the number of items listed sometimes running into the thousands, the descriptions minimal, the prices low. Today much of the material that was once the backbone of such catalogues is online. What's left for cataloguers are focused offerings of the hard to find, highly desirable and often valuable items. When combined with the rising cost of printed catalogues, and their generally declining efficiency, catalogue extinction becomes possible.
However, when you break the cataloguing challenge down into its basic elements: content, physical production, and distribution - new possibilities emerge for creating better, more flexible catalogues that work well if the audience will move beyond paper presentations to embrace their electronic cousins. The technology for interesting, email-able, presentations already exists and continues to improve. The e-catalogue also has the added benefits of being available instantly around the world, and allowing for real-time update and additions.
To engage this challenge, and to encourage the transition, this month we are adding a third section to AE Monthly to provide a venue for electronic catalogues to be organized and displayed. Such catalogues may be publications created in AE's Books for Sale, catalogues created as PDFs elsewhere and even PDFs converted into realistic book-like presentations by eMagCreator. The alternatives for online book catalogue presentation are flexible and inexpensive and continue to evolve. The fundamental idea of a catalogue is to create a focus that acquirers can efficiently browse. In time such presentations will be almost exclusively electronic so it's a good idea to become familiar with the options.
In this section, Section III, AE research [and higher] members can post descriptions of their catalogues along with their contents as PDFs or as links to specific catalogues on their site. To do so a contributing dealer simply writes a catalogue introduction and links it to their catalogue source. [The links for this will appear on member home pages in a few weeks]. For sellers submitting PDFs it's also possible to employ software provided by eMagCreator to convert PDFs into sophisticated catalogues that turn page by page.
For AE premium members it's even easier to create unique catalogues gathered from a member's Books for Sale inventory.
This month we provide two iterations. The first is a catalogue prepared by Book Hunter's Holiday of San Mateo, California that was submitted as a PDF and converted by eMagCreator's presentation. The same catalogue is also available as a PDF and can be searched and scrolled in the standard way. The second presentation is a catalogue prepared from inventory posted in AE's Web Catalogue.
The book-like presentation is visually appealing but potentially awkward to navigate, while the PDF is easier to use but more conventional. In converting the PDF into the book-like form it becomes a finished publication. No further changes can be made until or unless the text is recast into a new finished form. The cost for converting a catalogue into this format is $25 and is permanent. The other catalogue, from de Orbe Novo, was created in AE's Web Catalogue, can be revised and is free for Premium members. It remains editable even after issuance.