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Re: A nice blog on collecting Tolkien books
Shirrif
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I'm not having a go at Rene, I'm just taking this as an example as Beren specifically brought it up. I just don't think this is any way for any seller to treat any buyer in any market.

BH

Posted on: 2010/9/4 9:53
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You drive a hard bargain – you can have it for £10 all-in – one consolation (for you) is that you do not have to hear the cries of my children, for bread...


Re: A nice blog on collecting Tolkien books
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...and I'm agreeing with you...

Posted on: 2010/9/4 10:06


Re: A nice blog on collecting Tolkien books
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Well... I think you have to see it a bit differently here. Rene was actually selling the only Cor Blok available anywhere world-wide. It is there for correct to say that he could ask 1000 Euro, but then again 10.000 Euro for it. There has not been any Cor Blok on the market for 10 years and the only ones that changed hands in the last few years were sold for much more he had listed the last painting. And these were sold without even hitting the market. These items are extremely hard to find, try to find one Cor Blok for sale please... and if you do finally find it, then try to stick a value on it. You can call it overpriced, but for any of the items I have in mind this is actually not the case, since if we find one person willing to buy this item then we have to let it go. I'm not talking about normal limited editions here, this is about unique one of kind items...

It are these items that are difficult to stick a price on them. They are extremely rare, wonderful and very much unique in all respects. These are the items that on Sotheby's sometimes sell for 20000 Euro, sometimes for 50000 Euro (probably depending on the weather). And yes, Rene had it listed at a crazy price and he would admit that, and he would in conversations with clients tell exactly that. It is not incorrect, since how much do you need to ask for such an item? Do you expect dealers to list all the 'one of a kind' items for take away prices? No, don't think so... we don't have an unlimited supply of these unique items. And we are not selling hundreds of them a year, more like a few over a couple of years.

We tend to call them 'crazy' prizes, and we tend to say "if anyone pays this amount then they can have it"... it is easy to say we as dealers are wrong, but we are the crazy guys who spent the big amounts of money first to acquire these unique items and we never know if it will sell in the end. How many times we buy items for a lot of money and in the end sell it for 'much' less and actually loose on something? You don't want to know...

All I wanted to talk you guys about is to show a little how we operate and that it is not so simple making profit on books or to think you can just buy some deluxe editions and hope to make profit later...
it is a market that goes up and down and sometimes we win some and sometimes we loose some (and we all have a job next to the book selling business, except Rene but then again he sells more then books - and is not really a rare Tolkien book specialist either). As for myself I always handle the same profit rate and never bought and 1000 GBP book and sold it for 2000 GBP, that is not my way of dealing.

But when it comes to truly one of a kind items, that we maybe have held for over 10 years, we can sometimes list them at the so called 'crazy' prices; we could easily sell them on Sotheby's or wait for a buyer... is this incorrect? No it is not. If we sell the item, we will never see it again, will never be able to buy a similar item again (because they will only come through auctions and we ourselves will not be able to buy them either), so walk in our shoes and then say it is unfair of us to stick a 'crazy' price on them.

I know the person who bought the last Cor Blok from Rene, and he knew that Rene had listed it at a high price; and still he bought it. Why? Because he could and because he really wanted to own a Cor Blok. In fact I had booth the buyer, Rene and Cor Blok around a table a day before the person bought the painting... and had discussed all about selling prices, so they were all very aware of what was going on.

Does this mean something wrong was done here? The buyer knew he was paying a lot of money for something truly unique. Rene knew he was selling something for a 'crazy' price, but on the other hand would not sell it for less either (if you know Rene he is firm on his prices). So why is this a problem? I don't see any problem... did Rene treat the market wrongly? Anyways... we are not talking about items you can buy all over the place and try to sell them for big bucks; we don't sell fake items for big bucks, we don't make tons of profit and we are most of the time fighting hard to keep going. We don't push up prices, like some book dealers like to do, in fact I would say the opposite.

Posted on: 2010/9/4 12:58


Re: A nice blog on collecting Tolkien books
Shirrif
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Beren, I'm genuinely not having a pop. Looking back at my post (& I'll leave it un-edited, so others can judge how unfair I might have been) I may have made an error in specifically quoting you & discussing the Rene example in particular --for that I apologise if I've offended you; or perhaps (put better) totally mis-represented what actually happened in this case. No slur was intended at all against you or Rene. Please accept my apologies.

My post (rant?) also wasn't meant to suggest you're making a killing out of selling books; or that you're inflating prices or otherwise manipulating the markets. As I said, I wasn't specifically talking about you at all (--& I hope it is seen that most of my comments were generalisations using this example as a starting point.) [Last comment added for clarity -BH]

I'm not going to patronise you by heaping praise on your site (& bookstore) either --I think you know how I feel & view your own set-up. And, I ('we' I'm sure) do appreciate you posting (at length) regarding the other side of the trade i.e. from the sellers perspective. I do want to hear what you have to say; & not just so I can shoot you down or have a grumble (--altho' it might appear that way!)

But, why are you calling them 'crazy' prices? You made me think that you (& R) were of the opinion that the price you listed this particular item for was in your own opinion higher than it should have been (i.e. more than it was worth) --& that you were surprised that someone took the bait. Clearly I mis-interpreted quite how specific you were being i.e. in discussing purely one-off/unique (& therefore extremely difficult to price) items.

I'll try & come back to this a little less personally.

BH

Posted on: 2010/9/4 14:28

Edited by Khamul on 2010/9/4 15:31:01
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You drive a hard bargain – you can have it for £10 all-in – one consolation (for you) is that you do not have to hear the cries of my children, for bread...


Re: A nice blog on collecting Tolkien books
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Thanks for that, Beren. (wish we had a 'thumbs up' icon here).

Let's take a step back for a moment - and please bear in mind that, as always I can only speak for myself in these matters.

It may seem that we (or rather I) am taking a rather stern view of a specific dealer's pricing practices based on a report by one of our fellow forum members. In light of Beren's post just now, and looking back on his previous post (on p.7 of this thread) I think I am probably being too hard on Rene whom, I have to say, I have met on several occassions, and from whom I have bought some good stuff over the years. I've always been satisfied with my purchases, and find Rene a very kind and knowledgable person to do business with. I would recommend him to anyone.

I think what struck me as possibly an 'unkind' remark in Beren's post was this:

"An example was the Cor Blok painting Rene had listed on his website, he did not expect to sell it at the asking price, but was willing to let it go if someone was crazy enough to pay 'that amount' for it. "

On reflection, this seems to me to have been 'said' in what I would call a 'vaunting' style - the sort of thing I imagine one might hear behind the scenes at a book fair between dealers: 'I got rid of that book; you'll never guess what I got for it...' - that sort of thing is ok between one dealer and another. But when uttered on a site such as this, largely populated by those of us on the other side of the dealer's table, it might seem to smack of triumphalism.

But taking a further step back, I am just as 'guilty' of doing the same on the other side of the coin. I'm quite happy to tell my fellow collectors about the bargains I've managed to acquire over the years. Swings and roundabouts. The difference being that these conversations usually take place off - forum, often face-to face, so the person I'm speaking to can see and hear my expressions of gladness (when I've nabbed something good) or sadness (when one got away).

But I'd like to look again at Beren's original message: the passage which irked me comes from a larger portion of his post.

"In my book there is no such thing as aiming to make "as much profit as possible" ... We most of the time work with a fixed margin we aim at (that mostly includes free shipping costs, insurance and possibility for a reduction)... resulting in that when we manage to track down a very rare copy and after some negotiating pay a certain amount (mostly depending on what we believe the book can be sold for); the selling price is already set in the process.

So sometimes we get lucky and are able to sell some books at a price we think is very good or lower then we would actually estimate it. But since we were able to buy it cheap we can offer it cheap. Some dealers prefer to add a lot extra, but we prefer selling and finding a collector to treasure this rare book above making monster profits. Guess it is because we truly love to 'find' books and find our pleasure in the 'hunt' and not so much in the 'gain'.

Of course, since we are collectors ourselves, we always find it hard to sell some pieces or do not think it is time yet to sell some pieces... I know Rene also follows that rule... it indeed happens we list books at prices we do not expect to sell at. An example was the Cor Blok painting Rene had listed on his website, he did not expect to sell it at the asking price, but was willing to let it go if someone was crazy enough to pay 'that amount' for it. It did however sell and both parties are happy. So does it mean this painting is worth this price? Not really, but some collectors do spent crazy money to obtain unique items like that."

Sorry for the long quote, but I feel it was necessary, for my understanding at least, to put Beren's words into context. I do not now think that he was being triumphal in this post. I certainly don't think that he was implying any improper practice by himself (implicitly) nor Rene (explicitly). For my part, I'd like to withdraw my earlier remarks, and I offer my apologies to Beren and to Rene for any hurt caused.

*note - Khamul posted while I was away editing this (rather long) post. K. makes the interesting point about why B. used the word 'crazy'. Actually, it makes sense - I can imagine Rene using the word 'crazy', but in a self-deprecating way. If I'd heard him say this in person, doubtless I'd laugh along with him, taking the meaning in the way I think he meant it. To me at least, this is another example of the internet's frustrating inability to send clear 'messages' of a person's real intentions. To sum up - if I had any doubts about Rene's intended meaning, as reported by Beren, I have none now.


Posted on: 2010/9/4 15:01



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