The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 4, January 23, 2011, Article 8


Dave Lange submitted these thoughts on publishing in numismatics inspired by topics in last week's E-Sylum. Thanks! -Editor

I have thoughts on two subjects brought up in the most recent issue.

Regarding the growth of electronic publishing in numismatics, I've considered this possibility as a cost-reducing measure. I'm currently preparing a book on coin albums and folders as a follow-up to my last book on coin boards. This new book will be much larger, as it deals with a greater number of publishers and products, so the printing of hardcopies will be expensive.

I'd like to stick with my American printer, since that company did such a good job with color accuracy in the coin board book, but more and more coin book publishers are going to China for such work. I just don't know whether I can get a product that will satisfy me when dealing with the printer solely by telephone or email, and I'm not planning any trips to China to oversee the work.

The problem I have with doing a book solely in electronic format is one which many numismatic authors and publishers may have encountered---ours is a hobby that caters mostly to older people. I know that the buyers of my current book and the subscribers to my price lists and newsletters are mostly my age and older. A number of them don't have computers or email, so I still have to send out my quarterly publications by snail mail to a fair number of customers. I get orders from them in the same manner, oftentimes long after an item already sold to an email subscriber. I have a feeling that if I were to ofter my next book in both hardcopy and electronic editions, the former would be far more popular.

The situation would be different if I were writing a book about a numismatic topic that is of more interest to younger collectors. A title on American Eagle bullion coins or statehood quarters might do very well electronically, but books that appeal strongly to a nostalgia market would not be as successful. I suspect that I will go with a hardcopy print run exclusively for the next book, even though it take a few years to break even on the cost.

The other subject which caught my attention was that of "author's paralysis," the fear of publishing before one's work is perfect. I knew that additional coin board varieties would turn up subsequent to publication, and indeed they have. I've found about a dozen new varieties since the book came out, perhaps three or four major ones and the rest minor. Readers of my book have also reported new, minor varieties within their own collections.

I would love to publish a new, updated edition of my book, but I can't with so many copies of the first edition still on hand. The solution I've found is to announce new discoveries in my quarterly Coin Board News and issue a completely updated Check List and Value Guide annually to all persons on my mailing list. This is the only practical way to keep current for a subject that does not sell the thousands of books required for a second edition.

The risk of incompleteness is always present when publishing a reference in a field that was hitherto undocumented. I've tried to create numbering systems for my board and album books that will permit for additions, but certain new varieties may not fit comfortably into the existing numbering sequence, and this problem will only grow over time (just look at the ongoing debate over Sheldon's numbers for large cents in the EAC's Region 8 weekly newsletter).

After enough time has passed, I may have to revisit this numbering and make some fundamental changes, but that's still a long way down the road. I'm relieved that I was able to publish what I knew about coin boards just to get it on the record before my passing, and I'm attempting to do the same with folders and albums. The good news is that I'm fairly confident I'll be around long enough to accomplish that goal. What the hobby will do with the resulting information is anyone's guess.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: WHERE ARE THE ELECTRONIC NUMISMATIC BOOKS? (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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