Definition of term:: Catalogues

  • "Book Catalogues come in as many forms as booksellers ... What every catalogue has in common - and has had since secondhand booksellers first started issuing catalogues - is that customers or would-be customers everywhere will, whatever its quality, settle on it as though their lives depended on it. For book-buyers are curious folk, curious for knowledge or for a bargain or for that desideratum that has always eluded them, or - just curious. The short-term job of the catalogue-maker is plain: to sell his or her books. The middle-term aim is not to have them sent back again; or to leave their buyers feeling resentful or robbed. A longer-term aim is to lure new customers, make friends with them, flirt with them down the years: so that of all their morning mail it is to your catalogue that they first turn, and then they won't put it down until they have finished. And the ultimate accolade is that when they have finished they don't throw the catalogue away, but put it in a quiet place to re-read occasionally, even use for reference; and once in a while, months, maybe years later you receive an apologetic telephone-call or postcard inquiring whether, by any remote chance, item 144 is still available.” (James Fergusson)
Source: Antiquarian Books. A Companion for Booksellers, Librarians and Collectors. Compiled and edited by Philippa Bernard with Leo Bernard and Angus O'Neill. Scolar Press 1993