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2015 Bookseller Resource Guide

Addison & Sarova Trump Politics

How one auction house accounts for every detail of a sale By Peggy Carouthers Peggy Carouthers lives in North Carolina and is the editor of custom content at Journalistic Inc.

Addison & Sarova minimizes the impact of election woes on November auctions. Thinkstock

Though it may seem counterintuitive, modern day presidential elections have a large impact on historic documents and manuscripts when they go to auction because post-election worries affect buyer confidence.

“Prior to the election, 100 percent of the population has some hope that things are going to go their way,” says Michael Addison owner of Addison and Sarova Auctioneers. “After Election Day, roughly 50 percent of your potential bidders will be disappointed, panicked, stuffing their money into mattresses, and buying survival gear.”

Though he jokes, post-election depression does significantly decrease buyer participation, and this year’s post-election day depression may be more pronounced than most given the tumultuous sentiments surrounding the candidates from both camps.

“I’m no political expert, but it seems neither side is very enthusiastic about their candidate, and both sides are terrified by the opposing candidate,” Addison says. “Many will be voting against the other candidate as much as they are voting for their candidate.”

To minimize the impact on sales, Addison and Sarova schedules November auctions for dates before the general election in order to offer the best possible sales participation.

But this is just one factor Addison considers when planning a sale. Other factors, such as holidays, time of day, presentation, cataloguing, lotting, and advertising are also considered for each auction in order to reach the largest number of buyers.

“No auction house can control what the bidders will do on auction day … but every decision, no matter how minor it may seem, is made with the sole purpose of putting the consignor’s property in the best possible position to have success,” says Addison.

One unique benefit Addison offers is that the licensed bid-calling auctioneer is also the house’s book specialist, and Addison himself fills that role for Addison & Sarova.

“With us, the person calling bids knows the materially intimately and has catalogued much of it personally,” he says.

This intimate knowledge of the items up for auction can help both buyers and consigners.

As an expert auction-caller, Addison can judge whether or not a specific item has gathered the appropriate amount of attention and make comments about the condition or status of the item to garner further interest and ensure the best possible sale.

“There are many little details that may not appear in the catalogue, but they are details that I happen to know about the book simply from having worked with them personally,” Addison says.

Further, Addison is able to help individual bidders by calling them out by name when an item is up for sale that he knows is perfect for their collections. “That comes from an auctioneer who not only knows the material but knows his bidders’ tastes as well,” he says.

Much like elections, auction results are ultimately up to the individuals participating on the day of the event, but also like elections, there are many steps that can be taken by the auction house team to ensure a favorable outcome. In the case of Addison & Sarova Auctioneers, no detail, no matter how small, escapes consideration.

Peggy Carouthers lives in North Carolina and is the editor of custom content at Journalistic Inc.