I’ve been looking over other dealer’s catalogues, some of which have introductions, and some of which don’t. Since the Dante catalogue (whenever it is finally issued) will be my first, I plan on including an introduction. For many of its recipients, it will not only serve as an introduction to the Dante collection itself but also to my business, Book Hunter’s Holiday.
Another bookseller I know recently asked me to proofread and edit the introduction to a forthcoming catalogue. (No revisions needed; it was great.) He did three things very well in his introduction, and if you’re a bookseller considering issuing a print catalogue, I think you (and I) would be well-served to take these things into consideration when writing our own introductions.
Here’s what my friend did:
1) Explained what inspired this collection. In my case, I would need to explain why Dante and why the type of collection I’ve gathered — illustrated and unusual editions of Dante.
2) Explained why this collection is interesting, including highlighting a couple of the items in the catalogue.
3) Placed the collection in a larger context, so that a collector who might see his catalogue and think, “That’s interesting!” has a grander reason than just plain interest to collect it. Placing the collection in context could mean explaining its historic, artistic, or literary value. It could also mean explaining its relevance to a genre or artistic movement.
And remember, (this is purely my opinion here) your introduction should be one page (or even less). If you can’t explain what you’re doing and why in a concise and cogent manner, you need to rethink the premise of your catalogue.
In any case, I was impressed and inspired by my friend’s catalogue introduction. Who knows? Maybe it’s what I need in order to stop over-thinking and get back to work on my catalogue?
And if any of you dear readers are by chance well-established, experienced booksellers, your input on what makes a good catalogue introduction would be most welcome in the comments below or send me an email: chris AT bookhuntersholiday DOT com.
See you in the stacks!