A Step Toward More Efficient Catalogues
Remaking the book catalogue web friendly
By Bruce McKinney
Catalogues have been an essential tool for both buyers and sellers for fully two hundred years. For generations
book dealers issued catalogues to provide organized perspective and galvanize buyers. They did this to make sales
and in the process educated generations of collectors. They organized material in the ways they thought
appropriate grouped by subject, era, price, provenance and bibliographic reference and in this way conveyed their
In recent years online listings have overtaken traditional book selling in its various forms as the principal way
books are sold. The web's rise has not been without a price. The selling efficiency of the printed catalogue has
suffered as material once set aside for catalogues now often sells on line before the catalogue goes to press.
Production costs too have increased and material is of course ever more difficult to acquire. At the margin, book
catalogues are relentlessly under pressure, an investment that is ever evaluated against adding more listing sites
and doing more shows. Hence fewer catalogues are issued and collectors are left with diminished options for
conceptualizing their fields of interest. To help resolve this need AE now provides tools to create catalogues
within a member's listings both to provide broad categories of material for the interested to graze but also to
allow sellers to quickly create customized catalogues for current and potential clients. This is an important
step because catalogues remain important.
Michael Utt of Fort Worth, Texas, a dealer and Octavo member, has created a group of sub-catalogues that illustrate how this works. He has created five:
These catalogues are accessible in various places. They are listed in the International Bookseller's Directory as
direct links, as links in the Books for Sale database within each related listing, listed in the description of the
seller with every item offered, and of course accessible in searches across the net on the major search engines.
These catalogues are also email-able links to individuals, client lists, libraries and others. And when items are
sold they seamlessly disappear from a catalogue. And when new items are added they simply line up in whatever
order the dealer selects. These catalogues are alive.
Exploration, Voyages and Travel
Anthropology, Archaeology and Ethnology
For the collector this is an opportunity to see material in its logical combinations and relationships. For the
dealer it's a way to put years of experience to work in ways that make sales, build relationships and encourage
book collecting. It's a win all around.