If you subscribe to any of our Recently Arrived Used
emails, you'll notice our lighthearted (but deadly serious) disclaimer at the header:
Please note that all books listed are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Popular and out-of-print titles, in particular, may disappear quickly!
"Quickly" in the rare book world usually means 3 months. If you're used to leisurely browsing our rare book offerings, you might want to step up the pace a bit. We've lowered the prices of our rare book inventory, and happy bibliophiles near and far agree: this is a good time to buy.
An excellent article by Stephen Gertz about the shifting sands of the rare book trade was posted in June on the Fine Books & Collections website. Gertz also posts on the excellent Book Patrol blog.
The gist of Gertz's article is that "it's time for the mid to high-end material to meet their market-maker, the public." Bloomsbury Auctions was one of the first in the trade to shift their normal business practices. They held a "no reserve" sale on June 30, and the public responded by opening their wallets. The sale was such a success that the format will be repeated in December, just in time for the holidays.
The sea change that the rare book market is experiencing is not good news for dealers. One of the painful truths in this trade is "Books: you can't eat 'em." Inventory has to generate a cash flow. Those dealers who survive this reformatting of the market will have the chance, however, to forge new relationships with their customers, and succeed in this strange and wonderful enterprise called bookselling.