It has been an extraordinary privilege to play a part in the growth and development of the market for collectible paper over these past 21 years. A field that has been resolutely transitioning over the past 250 years, has been coming into full flower over the past two decades as the Internet brought the rare book community together.
While the Internet has been a positive force for many, for others it’s been tough. Listing sites have exposed the huge inventories of old and used books and for many, sales have been unrewarding for common material while much of the desirable material has been gravitating to the auction rooms. It’s been efficient but somewhere there needs to be a balance.
While the future for the auctions is assured, we all have long relied on dealer catalogues to seduce the mildly interested, converting them into life-long devotees. For that the field owes them a debt of thanks and all need to support them. For our part we would love to see more of their catalogues arriving for review.
As dealers continue to transition into the Internet I believe some of the responsibility to introduce the next generation of collectors is being necessarily embraced by libraries, knowing many of their future strongest supporters will learn about book collecting from them.
Simply stated, the future of the field depends on a well-educated and motivated audience. We all need to work together.
In closing, for these past 21 years we have worked to provide clarity. To do that, we have depended on memberships and we remember who purchased the very first one, the William S. Reese Company. Bill and his team supported us when we were just a fledgling. And now as we are providing more than 13 million records, as the market continues to transition, we will provide help to the field in the same spirit Bill offered it to us.