The bookhunter

May 12, 2006 at 4:17 pm Leave a comment

I wonder how many dealers and collectors are really well connected with each other. And how much they take advantage of the net and the millions of facilities that are available to them all. We all know about the standard tools like the major booklisting and comparative search engines like ABE and AddAll. And of course, if you're reading this, you probably have caught onto the world of blogs just to keep up with the general news and chatter in the industry. But what about Instant Messaging, Bulletin Board Services and News groups on the Usenet?

I decided to hunt around a bit, and certainly there is a fair amount of chatter left in the comments on people's blog sites. But the best space that I've found that is an attempt to build a community is rarebooks.tribe.net. The moderator that set this up is known as Peggy (from the SF Bay area), and she's a strange woman who describes herself in her profile as looking for "Sex with intimacy". Wow! These book people sure are whacky.  Anyway, apart from peggy's private interests, she seems to have created a small community of people interested in rare books. And they happily post away and share tips on pricing and on where to find things. And of course, they sell to each other. Another useful feature is that the site supports RSS, so you don't have to keep going back to check if there have been any more postings. You can get them fed to your client on your desktop while you're at work. Unfortunately, the community is very small and the postings are few and far between. But the idea is there.

What the rarebook market really needs is one big sharing space where people can communicate a lot more freely and where the distinction between dealers and collectors is levelled. If there is a safe space for rare booklovers to meet, it can only do good both in terms of sales for dealers and for collectors hunting down the things they want. Sure, it makes for a competitive space, but it also provides some good hard ground for you to put your ear to. If I ever get around to developing anything good like this in the near future, I'll certainly let you all know.

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