Herd on the Street

- by Bruce E. McKinney



The sell side of the market is clearly coming into view and there are going to be a variety of options sufficient to satisfy both immediate and long term sellers. It is important to note that the pursuit of any single longer term (as in slower to realization) selling solution so to achieve higher prices is not going to preclude the offering of material by any other method although in time, the market will probably assign relative value, meaning and importance to the various selling methods. And what will be true for sellers will be as true for buyers and the difference will be only in the scale of the prices less the commissions paid to create the sale. In short, the spread between the bid and ask, between the buyer’s bid and the seller’s offer, will ultimately come to be understood as a margin defined by time. So if the annual rate of appreciation of collectible books is thought to be seven percent and the spread between the bid and ask also seven percent, and again assuming this margin is equally divided by buyer and seller, the seller yields six months appreciation and the buyer is whole six months after the transaction is completed.

To help collectors define their potential collections we have developed keyword searches of our database, the ÆD, that identify relevant material and permit members to then mark records that fit within their personal parameters. These lists of selected materials, which include author, title, date and place of publication, can then be set to search both internet and auction listings every day for matches. For auctions we also provide “keyword” searches of all lots in upcoming sales. Keywords make it possible to find material that you “hope” exists. Every day after we compare your list(s) to what has become available over the past 24 hours, on the net and at auction, we immediately notify you of any matches found. This is not the way anyone has ever collected books before but it is the way intelligent collectors will collect books in the future. It is the way that interest in book collecting will be rebuilt to ultimately bring demand and supply back into a positive relationship.

This past year has seen enormous change in the book collecting world and no doubt the coming year will see even more. The electronic world is collector centric while the old world of books was dealer centric. There will be no going back. Sellers see it and every day come to the net to set up their businesses. Buyers do not yet, in proportionate numbers, see it as clearly. All of us who are committed to that future should be looking for ways to make its interesting potential evident to the world. Past is not prologue but neither is the pace of change certain. It will happen. Working together we can make it happen sooner.