How to Avoid Dealers
There have have intellectual giants in the Mormon book field. Some that come to mind include Dale Morgan, Chad Flake, Peter Crawley, and Lyn Jacobs. Except for Dale Morgan, the great bibliographer who died before I was eight, I have had the privilege of working with and learning from each of these experts.
Unfortunately, there is a growing set of dealers that lack sophistication, knowledge, integrity, passion, and discretion. These are lower-tiered dealers, who crowded to Mormon books after hearing about the brief rise in prices during the 1990s. They are opportunists, in a hurry to profit from both a seller and then a buyer. They do not value preserving relationships, selling for the long-term, growing the market, educating collectors, making discoveries, preserving history, contributing to society, or positively representing their faith. These people have actually impeded the increase and edification of the Mormon market, by giving collecting an unprofessional appearance to new inquirers. I am thankful to be an outsider in every respect, and I want to be disassociated with and differentiated from anyone like them.
Selling your books to a private collector instead of a dealer
I am a private collector. I am not a bookstore or other regular merchant. I pay fair-market (generally full-retail) prices for most rare books that I buy. I have never owned a bookstore, I do not attend book fairs, I do not issue catalogs, and I do not sell on the Internet. Nothing in my collection is advertised for sale, and I have sold only a small percentage of the items that I have ever acquired. Twenty years ago, I made just two short lists of books for sale, to refine the collection, reassess the scope, and sell duplicates. I have only sold two Mormon books (outside of my scope) at auction, both regrettably. The only books that I have ever listed for sale on the Internet are non-profit reprints that I have produced as a public service. Many bookstores give me a courtesy discount as an insider, seller of new books, regular customer, and major collector; but not because of being a dealer per se. I would only sell a book to someone whom I considered to be a friend or superior, and I would only charge the same market price that I would now be willing to pay to buy the same book.
Selling books to dealers who are profiteers
Many dealers are good people, and I can recommend a select few in Utah and New York, and anywhere else. But remember, a dealer’s job is to purchase your book at a bargain wholesale price for resale at a full-retail price. In fact, a dealer will only pay you 20% to 80% of the retail price, which is an excessive profit on expensive books. For example, a former buyer at the main used bookstore in Utah testified in a court deposition that when they buy rare books they typically pay a seller less than half of the true value. I recently offered $190,000 to retrieve a collection that two Utah dealers, including that aforementioned buyer, obtained from a collector in Salt Lake by offering only $4,000, which they said was reasonably above the standard percentage that dealers pay.
Selling books “on consignment”
Most importantly, dealers will attempt to take your book on consignment and sell it to a collector before even paying you. This means explicitly that the dealer cannot afford to pay you for the book, or has doubts about whether it can actually sell for what he or she is leading you to anticipate. Usually, the dealer will give you unrealistic expectations in order to gain possession of the book, and disappoint you later with an actual offer. Sometimes, it is because the expectation is irrelevant, because the dealer had plans to pay you nothing in the first place. For example, a principal Utah rare bookseller owes significant amounts of money to clients from whom he obtained books. If he “loses” your property while it is in his possession, your only recourse is civil because it is unlikely that you can prove that he had criminal intent. Because that has become commonplace in the Utah market and I am different I will pay you with a cashier’s check first, before I receive the book.
Instead of taking risks with your valuable property, you could sell your book directly to me at the full-retail price, particularly if your book is a high-end item (valued at $5,000 or up), printed before 1880. I buy from those same dealers to whom you might sell, anyway, and actually buy most of my books from dealers at reasonable prices. But I would rather be generous to you directly. Dealers in Utah have sold to me $5 million worth of just Joseph Smith-period Books of Mormon at full-retail price, while retaining their profitable middleman position by vigorously concealing me from people like you.
New Mormon forgery alert
I am disclosing this reluctantly but with a grievous sense of social responsibility. There are currently several people making apparent fakes, possibly what some people would consider counterfeits and forgeries, and selling them to Mormon collectors who assume that they are genuine. These are not so good that they cannot be easily detected if you are informed. Especially avoid buying the following that I have recently seen on the market:
There were some famous Mormon manuscript forgeries made during the early 1980s which were temporarily damaging to the Mormon manuscript market, but there are enough people now with expertise who are prepared to insulate the Mormon rare book market from similar forgers in rare books. Making a whole book would be very difficult anyway, and the people who seem to be inclined to do this right now are not very skillful either. Also, Deseret Book closed its rare book department after its unreliable manager bought the forged manuscripts in the 1980s, and after alleged employee embezzlement (although the former manager is dealing in manuscripts again).
Also be extra careful when buying from dealers selling books as a sideline, such as auto body shops, photocopy shops, comic book stands, and even antique dealers without a store location. Question why anyone would need to buy books using an assumed name, or as an LLC (Limited Liability Company), or not put their own name on their promotional materials, or refuse to show you their driver’s license.
At the same time, do not assume that because of church affiliation or being a university professor, college librarian, author, or in a booksellers association that a dealer is therefore safe. Sadly, there are several shrewd people who maintain a nominal church affiliation or even a recommend, just to take advantage of other members in buying books. This is because faithful church members promise to be honest in your dealings with your fellow man, and thereby these dealers have the trust of other members.
However, other Utah dealers will deliberately take greater advantage of you if you do not have the same church affiliation. Some will not do business with you at all, because of your background, illogically hurting their own sales with their cultural intolerance. The president of their own church recently (July 2001) said: I plead for a spirit of tolerance and neighborliness, of friendship and love toward those of other faiths. I plead with our people to welcome them, to befriend them, to mingle with them, to associate with them in the promulgation of good causes, not take advantage of them for being non-members. Unfortunately, these dealers inevitably reflect badly on the church which is otherwise comprised vastly of law-abiding people who have great integrity and ethics. Any non-Mormon, non-member, or less-active member is more than welcome to call me and be assured that I will treat them like every other good citizen and a friend.
Because of all of the factors described above, or others, I carefully examine any item purchased, and/or secure every financial transaction with any dealer such as the following dealers that basically work in several groups:
Of course, I disclaim that anything on this page states, implies, or means that any specific person or group has committed any illegal, notorious, or even unethical act, or that there is any connection between people or groups mentioned or described on this page with any any specific circumstance, or that anything on this page extends beyond my opinions of my personal observations. As an expert, I am obligated to be careful with these particular people, and others.
Dealers who gossip
After I disclose that there are apparent fake items in the market, and other questionable business practices, whoever is responsible will want to send attention elsewhere to protect their unethical businesses. There are two groups of dealers in Utah one group has bookstores (or rather used book areas in stores that sell new books, antique furniture, or ephemera like postcards and comic books), and the other group are book scouts that travel from store to store. This traveling is a convenient channel of communication for them, and each store is like a town coffee shop without any coffee. Many of the dealers in Utah spend more time gossiping than buying books, which ultimately reflect on their own image, reduces their profitability, and hurts their spiritual and emotional health. There are many psychological and sociological theories to explain why some people may need to do this. At least in business, it helps publicize the entity talked about, as long as they spell your name right. But remember, when you overhear gossiping, that you have no privacy among that type of people.
I am discouraged by cultural intolerance, close-mindedness, and prejudice that remains in America. So much of this is multiplied by the gossip so prevalent in neighborhoods, churches, and businesses. Yet, every intending Christian should be aware that there are scriptures cautioning against this behavior, which seems timeless throughout history: And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not (1 Timothy 5:13). James says, If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain (James 1:26). Ironically, most gossips claim to be religiously superior to those whom they are judging. In my business relationships, I am committed to being charitable, forbearing, or lenient towards the views or mistakes of others.
So, I do not participate in that gossip, and I will stay above it. I am well-liked by sophisticated and bright people, such as the professors and executives who are the thinkers and collectors that drive the market. I have never met any distinguished or cultivated person who listened to gossip, or any intelligent person who believed it and among affluent people who have risen to success through adversity, there is even empathy for the injured. I purchase books with a very high profile, and strive to have as much integrity as can be attained. I maintain an ethics statement on My Ethics and I also have a family values page at http://www.Hajicek.com/Values.htm. I hope that you will visit these and learn about my character, as I am truly differentiated from the everyday Utah dealers, many of whom are not representative of the more refined Mormon book market.
You need to be cautious around dealers. But remember, Mormon collecting is usually spiritually uplifting and financially reassuring, and there is a higher category of experts, and those with integrity in the field; in New York and in Utah, and elsewhere; especially if you are a buyer. So, get acquainted with them through me, and be thankful for great Mormon books.
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