Perspective on Nine Years

- by Bruce E. McKinney

Flexibility

In the book business flexibility is required

AE is celebrating its 9th birthday this September 3rd and it seems like only yesterday that we began.  Many of our original members are members still, a testament to their patience and our unending ambition to figure out how best to midwife the transition from collectible books as they were handled for much of the past five hundred years to how they will be handled going forward.  The past now looks to have been a sequence of incremental changes while the new world is emerging at the rate of a generation every year.  Change is now that fast.

For AE to exist and be part of this transition is exhilarating.  Many sites serving the field have come and gone. In the same period AE has increased services, added membership and, on average, 360,000 full text records to the Americana Exchange Database each year.   During the past year we have transitioned to a decidedly 21st century electronic approach with lightning fast databases, better searches, greater security and simpler, more intuitive, services.

It has not always been easy but it has always been satisfying.  Our purpose is to aid the field - its dealers, collectors and libraries - by developing new methodologies that exponentially increase research capabilities while shortening the distance between buyers and sellers.  The destruction of the old methodologies is inevitable, occuring in the natural conversion of most things to the web.  But by providing substantial, understandable and supported resources in forms that both reflect tradition and up-to-date technologies AE ensures that the next generation of buyers and sellers will have a familiar and logical way to participate in the field.

Involvement has been and continues to be an exceptional experience.  To those who have become members we say thank you.  To those who will join in the year ahead we say welcome.  To quote Pecos Bill, “Kinda makes it all worthwhile.”  You can do it if you want.  All you have to do is go out and become it!  

Well, we’re doing it and it just goes to show that folks with a lot of rings in their tree stumps can be vital and involved and still make history.  Youth has its advantages but experience, at least when it comes to books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera, is important and probably paramount.

Thank you for the privilege to serve the field. 

Bruce McKinney
AE