Member Blogs > ten pound island book company"And That's the Way It Is", May Third, 2015...

  • Sun, 03 May 2015 09:58:52    Permalink
    Walter Cronkite - the most trusted voiceBig day for me yesterday.I was featured in an article in Bruce McKinney's “Rare Book Monthly.” In fact, I got a mention “above the fold” - in the lead text appearing on the home page. Even better, Bruce McKinney referred to me as “ABAA commentator Greg Gibson.”I've never been called a “commentator” before, and I like to think that term confers a certain dignity lacking in the “jackass” and “loudmouth” appellations I usually endure. Walter Cronkite was a commentator. When commentators speak, people listen. In an attempt to defend himself against my charge that he was a shill for the auction houses, McKinney quoted from last week's blog entry at considerable length. The anecdote I presented was an example of an auction house colluding with a dealer against the interests of a buyer - anything but the honest, efficient, transparent brokers McKinney has in mind.Since there was no defending auction houses on those grounds, McKinney chose to critique my article thus: In Mr. Gibson’s account a collector that buys only at auction and a dealer and auction house collude to get the collector to pay more at auction than they would privately. What he is actually suggesting is that some collectors are stupid.Yes, Bruce. That is what I am actually suggesting. Some collectors are stupid. Some dealers are, too. And auction houses, and commentators, and editors of online monthly trade journals. No one has the concession on brains around here.He continues his defense:Auctions loom large because the disparity between dealer prices and auction realizations has grown so extreme. Now that, my friends, is where Bruce McKinney and Rare Book Hub jump the shark. I invite him - or anyone with sufficient time to waste - to compare the prices of items I have on offer with auction records for recent sales of comparable items. In most cases, mine will be cheaper. The thing I most dislike about auctions – aside from the fact that they've convinced people that they are the most transparent and efficient market – is that they're too damned expensive. And they're often too damned expensive because the thrill of being an auction room bigshot tends to attract people with more money than brains. Which skews the market, as far as I am concerned.Oh, I almost forgot – while all this was going on Marvin Getman and SNEAB (Southern New England Antiquarian Booksellers) were having a book fair at the Shriner's Auditorium in Wilmington, Mass. At least, I think it was a book fair. But it could have been a wake or a support group for those unfortunate souls whose lives have been torn apart by book lust, or a bake sale at the Senior Center.What it actually was, was mystifying. There was absolutely no reason for this to have been such a sleepy show. It was the end of a long, brutal winter, and people should have been itching to get out. Dealers should have been eager to rent booths and to display their wares. After being snowed under for three months here, at least, was a chance to make some sales. Marvin Getman did his usual excellent job organizing and publicizing, and SNEAB got the word out, too. Unlike Sandy Smith, Marvin Getman provides lunch for dealersBut no one, it seems, got the message. There were fewer dealers exhibiting as this fair than ever before, and fewer customers walking the aisles. And none of us had a clue as to why. Even the scrum at the Brattle Books booth – usually a slugfest – was a sedate affair involving half a dozen dealers who politely helped the Brattle staff unload their boxes. I did find a copy of the American edition of Malhalm's Naval Gazeteer. I looked the book up in Bruce McKinney's “Rare Book Transaction History” database, but apparently no comparable copy had appeared at auction in quite a while. Instead, there were listings for individual maps from this work which had sold in the $100 - $400 range. I recalled having sold a copy of the entire book for $3000 a few years ago, so I bought it.But mostly I passed an enjoyable afternoon chatting with my colleagues and reading “Rare Book Monthly.” Late in the afternoon I posted a rebuttal to McKinney's article, which read as follows:Bruce:
    Thanks for keeping this always interesting discussion going. I'll stand by my observations – I think they're self evident - but must note that I usually preface my "McKinney is anti-dealer" rants by praising the database you've created. It's far and away the most useful tool available to dealers, and the reason I maintain my subscription to RBH. - Greg Gibson
    I look forward to reading Bruce McKinney's rebuttal to my rebuttal in next month's “Rare Book Monthly.” His lead sentence should read something like, “Big day for me last month. I was featured in an article in Bookman's Logby ABAA commentator Greg Gibson.”  Malham, Rev. John.The Naval Gazetteer; or, Seaman’s Complete Guide. Boston: 1797. b/w fldg charts. (3)-xlvi, (1), 8-436; (3)-573, (3) pp. First American edition of this important early gazetteer, with folding maps - made by mapmakers in New York and Boston - of the northwest and northeast coasts of America, West Indies, South America, Africa and the South Pacific, as well as European and Asian seas. Text descriptions include physical characteristics but also navigating information for mariners, for thousands of locations, including recently discovered waters in North America and the Pacific. It contains, for example, the “Correct Chart of the Northwest Coast of North America from Bhering’s Straits to Nootka Sound,” which was the first map of Alaska published in America, and of great importance to American fur and China traders. Maps show occasional foxing, but are generally in good or better condition. Sabin 44119. Evans 32415. Bound in contemporary full calf. probably American. Outer hinges cracked; sewing tight. A scarce set. $300o

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