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The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 16, April 22, 2007, Article 8

BOWERS AND MERENA DEBUTS NEW ELECTRONIC VIRTUAL CATALOG FORMAT

Tim L. Shuck of Ames, IA writes: "I received an email from Bowers and
Merena that might be of interest vis-à-vis the discussion of printed
versus digital numismatic catalogs. Their catalog for the just opened
May 2007 St. Louis Rarities Sale is available in a new Virtual Catalog
online format, and as a downloadable pdf file. It took me less than
five minutes to download and save the 96 page, 22.4 Mb catalog file,
using a broadband connection.

"Of course, most auctions are already now viewable online, often with
robust search tools, but this version has the look of a printed catalog,
with tools for page turning, page-by-page navigation, table of contents
navigation, zooming either by page or via an inset magnifier window,
and a link for bidding. Whether this online format is better than others
will be a matter of preference, or possibly functionality as the clarity
of zoomed images did not seem to be as good as others I’ve seen.

"Of more interest to me was the fact that I could download this catalog
as an Adobe .pdf file. Not only a less ‘shelf-intensive’ way to store
catalogs for those of us who keep them, but the .pdf format also allows
sophisticated searching via Adobe Acrobat, for me a faster and more
reliably consistent access method than using the Internet. Obviously a
downloaded .pdf is not a DVD, though more preferable I now think, and
likely won’t tempt those who want a printed version. But it is an
interesting development that I have not previously seen, and if nothing
else may indicate that formats other than the traditional printed
catalog are indeed being looked at."

To view the Bowers and Merena virtual catalog online, see:
Bowers and Merena virtual catalog

[The new virtual catalog format is pretty nice, despite the hokey fake
"page flipping" noise and graphic each time you go to the next page.
This is akin to the fake shutter sound a number of digital cameras make
to simulate the old style cameras most of us grew up with.  But the
sound does serve a purpose.

Flipping pages online was fairly fast for me, but not a fast as
physically flipping through the pages in a hardcopy.  After downloading
the complete catalog to my PC, page flipping was naturally much faster
and I found it a very acceptable way to browse. You can set the
magnification level, so I chose to pan out to see two complete pages
side-by-side for flipping, and when I stopped at lot of interest I
zoomed in.  Also, the page-flipping noise and visual feature did not
appear here, which for me, made viewing the downloaded copy a better
experience.  Nice!

It will be interesting to see if other numismatic firms pick up on
this new format.  It does seem like a net improvement in the reading
experience.  If not THE answer to the problem of storing the plethora
of modern auction catalogs, this is at least a major step along the
way.

Perhaps someday instead of asking a numismatic researcher "what's
in your library" we'll ask, "what's on your hard drive?"  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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