I'll Lock Up
Price Guide Publisher Calls It Quits?
As in all likelihood, many of the titles published by Collector Books grace the bookshelves of Loungers, I read this distressing bit of news and thought it relevant to share:
No more antiques titles from Collector Books
by Eric Rodenberg
Collector Books -- whose titles were once a staple of both collectors and dealers -- has stopped publishing books about antiques and collectibles.
Founded in 1970, as a division of Schroeder Publishing Co., with the sole purpose of producing factual informational value guides for antiques and collectibles, the company has released more than 1,500 books.
Sales of the books have been on the decline during the past several years, according to Collector Books' authors, primarily due to the more rapid availability of information on the Internet, which is often free.
Collector Books made the announcement through a press release to AntiqueWeek. Company officials declined interviews.
Although Collector Books management decided to halt the presses for antiques and collectibles books in May, the press release said the company will '"continue to operate, marketing and shipping books well into and beyond 2011. We currently have 14 all new titles to release for the fall of 2010. These titles will be released as scheduled and marketing in the same methods as we have all our other titles, through direct mail, Internet and phone."
Collector Books decision caught some its writers off guard.
"Of course, we were very upset and unhappy about the decision," wrote Susan Harran in an e-mail, "as we were almost finished with an Encyclopedia of Cups & Saucers, which was to be our ninth book with Collector Books, They will not be able to publish it."
Susan and Jim Harran, who have also written for AntiqueWeek, specialize in English and continental porcelains, and antique cups and saucers. As antique dealers, the Harrans traveled throughout the United States, selling at major shows.
"For the past three years we could see that antiques books weren't selling well," she said. "One month we got a minus royalty check. Some of the big stores, such as Barnes & Noble, and Borders, have an agreement with some publishers. If they can't sell their books, they can return them for a complete refund. That is what happened to two of our books, and we know that they had a number of these returns."
"Every quarter our royalty checks get smaller. The problem we think is that there is so much free information on the Internet that no one wants to spend the money to buy a book. Also, of course, is the economy. I know that Collector Books has operated at a loss for the last few years, and they are laying off a number of employees, including our editor."
One of Collector Books most successful authors, Gene Florence who is renowned for his work in the Depression glass field, in an October 2009 interview with AntiqueWeek also cited declining book sales as a major factor in his decision to retire. He said his book royalties has gotten to the point where it was hardly worth the effort to write.
For nearly 40 years, Florence had a sterling career with Collector Books, writing 118 books on antiques and collectibles, while selling more than 2.5 million books. His last three books rolled off the press at Collector Books last July. Among those books was the 19th edition of the Collector's Encyclopedia of Depression Glass, an update of the first book he had written for the company.
While the company halted the presses on antique books, they have seemingly stepped up efforts to produce eBooks, to be used on portable electronic devices to download books in digital form. The company is currently offering eBooks on out-of-print books at reduced prices.
Bill and Meredith Schroeder founded Collector Books in 1970. In the 1960s while working full time at a chemical company in Calvert City, KY, Schroeder spent his spare time buying and selling rare coins, silver, gold, limited edition prints and other collectibles that were popular at the time.
When the coin market weakened in 1964, he sold his coin business and focused his attention on old canning jars. Wanting to buy and sell these jars, he placed classified advertisements in farm publications, simply reading: "We buy & sell old fruit jars. Send $1.00 for complete list. Refundable on first transaction."
Schroeder quickly discovered that homemakers were not interested in buying or even selling old jars passed down through the generations. However, they were interested in knowing the values of these heirlooms.
In 1969, Schroeder compiled a small booklet, 1,000 Fruit Jars with Current Values, an easy-to-use guide containing (now considered) crude drawings found on the side of the jars. They, of course, sold like the proverbial "hot cakes".
By 1974, Schroeder Publishing had found a nice niche in the antique world, Schroeder's Antiques Price Guide was soon a staple in the antiquing industry, with the 2011 edition, which is the 29th, currently selling in book stores.
In 1985 Schroeder Publishing Company, Inc. began another division, The American Quilter's Society, which publishes books about quilting, two quilt-related magazines and produces four annual quilt shows. This division will continue to publish books and magazines, according to the company's press release.