Chapter 438 Must Read of the Day

Over at Book Patrol, Stephen J. Gertz has written a couple of articles of interest to both buyers and sellers of books.

Take a moment to read them and come back. I’ll wait.

What do you think?

I’m too new to the trade (a little over two years in business) to remember a time when book prices have risen significantly or deflated significantly. Looks like now seems to be the time for the latter. This is good news for buyers and for those like me, who are new to the trade and looking to increase the number of quality books we buy for resale. Even so, it’s difficult for me to make an informed judgment about this topic because I lack the experience to do so.

I and my readers would like to hear from those of you who have been booksellers or book collectors longer than I have, if you’re willing to share with us. Have you seen periods of deflation before? How long did those periods last? Do you think we are now in a period of deflation? What are the signs that the market for antiquarian books is improving? How can a serious book collector identify good purchases in a down market?

I ask these questions because I think pricing is the most difficult thing for a bookseller to learn. A bookseller has to leave room for a profit (at least most of the time) and a bookseller has to being willing to get what money he can out of book purchased for resale at too high a price (a/k/a “a mistake”). A bookseller needs to research past and current asking prices for a book. A bookseller also has to have a sense of the marketplace — who might buy this book from me and what will they be willing to pay — to set the appropriate price. Navigating through all of these things to set an appropriate price for a book can be tricky, but it is also part of the fun of the trade. While no bookseller hopes for a big deflation in book prices, Mr. Gertz seems to be of the opinion that a general lowering of prices will “openly invite interested newcomers who may feel that current prices push the ‘gentle madness’ of the hobby into a full-blown psychosis that few can afford.”

I hope he is correct. There is nothing I’d like more than to help interested newcomers become passionate book collectors and I’ve always been confident that booksellers (especially this one) can assemble interesting and amazing collections at an affordable price.

See you in the stacks!

2 Comments

Filed under A Bookseller's Education, Internet Resources for Booksellers and Book Collectors, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Chapter 438 Must Read of the Day

  1. Bill

    Hi Chris
    Very interesting articles, thanks for the link. One thing that is happening is just the no-reserve auction thing that you can see every day on e-bay. Everyone likes a bargain, and so likes no reserve auctions, but then you really want the book (or whatever also) and in the face of real demand in the form of other bidders you bid more. So a book with a high retail value of say $200, will sit at an asking price of $200, or even $75. But list it at $5 and interest is high, bids soon pass $75 and perhaps even $200. Now I have also seen good books sell on e-bay way below their value, but that is because they get lost on the site among the millions of books, something less likely to hapen at a well publicised auction like Bloomsbury.

    But this is unrelated to the recesion, which is real and affection everything from real estate to art, so books are unlikely to be affected. I have cut back my buying as I am sure others have and this decrease in demand has and will affect prices. Just a few random thoughts.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Bill. I, too, have seen that “no reserve” auctions work better for some items than starting with a minimum bid on ebay. It is a stunner to see that this is also true for the big auction houses, but from a buying standpoint, I love it. I’ll have a better sense of if/how much the market is deflating in general when I do a few book fairs in September and October. I think many have cut back on their buying but that people are still buying if they perceive they are getting a “bargain”.

      I appreciate your comments.

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