As we enter this holiday season we want to remind our members and visitors of the cataloging trend now well underway, that is seeing the decline of the printed catalogue in favor of the eCatalogue which has two distinct advantages and one disadvantage when compared to printed catalogues. The principal advantages are cost and timing. The disadvantage is effectiveness. Those who receive both forms of catalogues still overwhelmingly prefer the printed catalogue and I’m among them. Such catalogues often have a sharp focus that’s easy to understand as I set aside 10 or 15 minutes to look through the presentation.
Seen in this way I’m much more likely to buy or at least contact the seller with questions. If eCatalogues do not seem to have the same impact as printed catalogues I think it’s in part because dealers seem to treat eCatalogues as less substantial. So for instance, if they are going to take important material to shows many dealers do not also post such items on line. In addition, it was once and perhaps remains a commonplace tactic today to withhold material from online listings until the dealer’s mailing list has been fully apprised of availability. In other words, when dealers dismiss eCatalogues as less important, that awareness does seep into the awareness of readers and they pay less attention.
This will soon change.
In January we’ll introduce the first iteration of our rare books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera newsfeed. Think of Apple or Google news and then think about what it would be like as a dedicated service for the paper collectibles field. So when you go to lunch in the spring you’ll be able to see upcoming auctions, those occurring today and look back over the past 30 days. Articles will be interspersed along with announcements from those associations, libraries and museums that choose to post. As well, dealers, who are paid services members, will be able to post eCatalogues including those they create to directly compete with specific events, such as a particular auction, trade show or occasion.
By or before April we’ll release dedicated phone apps for Android and Apple.
Every field has its early adapters. Come January we’ll rip the band aid off a fresh iteration of the website of the future because, while we can’t go back, no one says we can’t move decisively ahead.
Here is a fresh look at eCatalogues posted on Rare Book Hub and then post yours! In the new world they’ll be more important.