AE Monthly

Articles - March - 2005 Issue

One Million and Growing:<br>A Brief Account of the <b>AED</b> --Please Read!

A0303

Multiple fields can be used to hone in on results for just the first American edition of Huck Finn


By Michael Stillman

We reached a major milestone in the development of this site a few weeks back: over one million records and growing. Specifically, we are talking about the AE book database of records, and it is the backbone of this website. For those of you not familiar with the "AED," we request you take a few moments to learn what it is. You may want to subscribe (it's cheap), you may not. Your call. But as it has become the most extensive record of its kind pertaining to books and book sales, you should know what it is. If you own a bookshop, and a customer asks you about AED records, you want to be able to say, "that's a very useful resource," or "that isn't particularly helpful to me." As the expert, the one thing you never, ever want to say to a client is, "what is that?" So, here's the quick explanation.

The AE Database and the Americana Exchange went live 2 1/2 years ago. Many of the site's features are free, and we long ago lost track of how many people come here daily to use them. However, the AED is a subscription feature and it does help to pay the bills. It's also a great value. When we opened, it contained just over 200,000 records, all taken from classic bibliographies such as Sabin, Evans, American Imprints Inventory, and more. What made the AED a unique resource even then was that the records were placed in a database, and could be located through numerous different fields, such as author, title, date, publisher, place of publication, etc. That is very different from scanned or facsimile files where you can look for words anywhere in the text, but cannot conduct searches targeted to specific fields. That type of search often results in "Google" results, so many matches that you can't possibly find the ones you want.

That was then. Since 2002, we have expanded the database with priced records, primarily from book auctions and booksellers' catalogues. For book auctions, we include the hammer price; for dealer catalogues, the listed price. Some are very old, as far back as the 19th century. Others are as recent as an auction held a few days ago.

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