J. Bear Savo

BEHIND THE BLOCK: Inside information on the value of old books

BEHIND THE BLOCK: Inside information on the value of old books
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Fast Eddie, a longtime client and friend, sent me an e-mail that will prove critically enlightening to my fellow auctioneers, antique/collectible dealers, and those who are either part of – or thinking about getting into – the online trading community. It reads as such:

This morning I was at an estate sale when I overheard some inside information that could be of value. I was looking through a large pile of assorted books when up came two eBay experts. These two women started going through the books when one turned to the other and stated with absolute certainty, “You know, books are in this year.” To which the other woman replied, “Yes. I know.” I guess this year at Cannes, Angelina Jolie will be wearing Versace and carrying a Funk & Wagnalls dictionary. So if a set of encyclopedias ignites some frenzied bidding at one of your auctions, you’ll know why. Books are all the rage this season!

Wow! Who the hell knew? Of course, I have always understood that certain books are popular with collectors due to their rarity or significance, but who would have ever thought that all books would be en vogue? Who could have dreamed that a bunch of silly pages bound together would take online and live auctions by storm no matter the author, title, or subject? Books! I was blown away.

Now, to qualify Fast Eddie, he is one who makes a living selling print and electronic media via the Internet. He ships over 100 pieces per week and probably lists three times that many in a seven-day period. He has a penchant for finding rare and out-of-print items, enabling him to sell a movie or a book for hundreds of dollars when most of us would think it’s worth pennies. So, when Fast Eddie passes along a tip such as “books are in,” I listen.

As generosity is often contagious, I have been moved to share my expertise with you. Indeed, in the spirit of generalization, blanket statements, and painting with broad brushes, I present this list of what I know to be in this year:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Shelter
  • Automobiles
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Stuff

Now go forth and trade! Buying and selling the aforementioned (especially sexual intercourse and stuff) will kick start this economy, revitalizing it at warp speed. It’s so simple. I, Fast Eddie, and others like us have been wasting our time thinking we had to deal with specific types of high-quality merchandise in order to make a living. If we had only known… if we had only understood that there is no trash in the world, only treasure… My God, I feel sick! All the stuff I’ve passed up over the years… all the stuff that I claimed to be unmarketable… Now I know what it’s like to weep and vomit and the same time. (Womit?)

P.S. No, I don’t want your encyclopedias for any upcoming auctions.

There’s far more to being a professional auctioneer than merely marketing merchandise. Each Wednesday, Behind the Block explores the precise methods, the elemental madness, and the intrinsic humanity of the auction industry.