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February 23, 1999

Collecting Books

by Dee Entrekin

Internet Competition Reaps Benefits for Collectors and Booksellers

The Internet is no longer a choice but a necessity for many businesses. Bookstores specializing in collectible books are no exception. Its influence has resulted in more competitive pricing, opened the market to individual sellers, and made books available to collectors that heretofore were not accessible.

Many book dealers no longer rely solely on general price guides compiled from bookstore catalogs for estimating the value of average modern first editions, deferring to the Internet as their barometer. As Bookseller Vic Zoschak, Jr. seems to think: "...book prices are flattening for the more common material...and that which is truly scarce is becoming pricier."

For a bookstore, the inputting task is daunting. A reputable dealer expends considerable time and expertise in describing or grading each book. They must determine each book's edition status, which is not always easily recognized without resorting to identification references, bibliographies, and specialized guides with points. Although identifying recent first editions has become easier because of number or alphabet lines, publishers historically have used individual and sometimes inconsistent methods of identifying first printings.

Caution should be exercised when buying books offered for sale via the Internet. Many of the books are not described in generally accepted terminology. In addition, some sellers lack knowledge in identifying first editions.

A few precautions, however, should insure satisfaction. Do not depend on the seller to educate you on the authenticity of a book. The seller may be a world-renowned dealer in books, or someone unable to distinguish between a book club or trade edition. If the description seems scant, inquire in detail about specific points and condition prior to ordering.

The following magazine articles are recommended for information and suggestions helpful to Internet buyers and sellers:

The positive benefits to both consumer and seller far outweigh any negative aspects of the Internet. With about ten million books on the Net and increasing daily, books from around the world are at your fingertip. No longer are collectors limited to years of frustrating searches that can end in futility. Even consumers who are not interested in searching the Net for a particular book, deferring to their local book dealers instead, are rewarded by the more competitive prices.

With just a small percentage of Entrekin Book Center's stock on-line, the response has been good. The only problem thus far is not having enough copies to satisfy multiple requests.

Our books are being listed by Advanced Book Exchange (http://www.abebooks.com), which is also accessible through the multi-search engine http://www.BookFinder.com (formerly MXBookfinder).


Dee Entrekin owns Entrekin Book Center.