What can be done? The on line universe that is making books, manuscripts and ephemera uniquely vulnerable at the very moment when the economy is under severe pressure can be seen as either a disaster or opportunity.
The current approach is convenient to sellers but discouraging to collectors. The way forward lies in reorienting listed material into logical collecting categories and building communities around these subjects. We have started to do this as Wiki Bibliographies. It is only a start and I'm afraid many dealers will fail before the new methodology takes hold. In the meantime, let's prepare for a tough year. There are going to be some exceptional items to buy. The trick will be to pay fair prices, and if bought by dealers, to have the skills to deliver them into outstretched hands.
Economic Contractions in the Modern Era
There have been many sustained economic downturns during the past one hundred years. They are usually associated with failed economic policy and are as natural as rain. Since 1900 there have been eleven such events of differing severity. We remember the Great Depression as the most serious and sustained but there have been ten others: