Collector Books to Close After 40 Years

September 14th, 2010 by

After 40 years of supplying invaluable information for the antiques and collectibles market, Collector Books is closing its doors. With the release of its last 14 titles this fall, Collector Books will cease publication, though it will stay open through 2011 to sell out its remaining inventory of over 235,000 books.

Collector Books, a division of Schroeder Publishing, began in 1969 when Bill Schroeder saw a need and filled it. This simple want ad, “We buy & sell old fruit jars. Send $1.00 for complete list. Refundable on first transaction. Schroeder’s, Rt. 4, Paducah, KY.”, didn’t generate many sales, but it drew dozens of inquiries from owners interested in information about their jars. Bill compiled a booklet called “1000 Fruit Jars with Current Values” and by 1974 had quit his day job so he could devote all his time to Collector Books.

While Collector Books has published over 1500 different titles on antiques and collectibles, it is their price guide that set an industry standard. Published annually since 1982, Schroeder’s Antiques Price Guide had been the ‘blue book’ of the antiques and collectibles market for almost 30 years. But the current wealth of information available for free on the internet, coupled with the technology to access it immediately even from the most remote locations, has made such price guides obsolete.

Collectors no longer have to cart around a milk crate full of books when they go hunting. All they need is a cell phone web browser. The ‘information super highway’ has made it possible to access price information instantaneously. And gone, too, is the thrill of the hunt. Where collectors once had to search high and low for rare items, the internet has brought them right into the palm of their hands, causing an overall drop in antiques prices as well.

And so, the 29th edition of Schroeder’s Antiques Price Guide will be the last, and as Bill Schroeder has said, it’s the end of an era.

Telling his employees that the company would be closing wasn’t easy. “I’ve been in just about every facet of the business since I was thirteen,” said Schroeder. “It’s one of the most difficult decisions we’ve had to make and it’s emotional”, he said in an interview with WPSD, the local news station. “We’ve tried every avenue we could. Forty years. That’s a long time.”

Collector Books employs about 50 people. Although 8 have already been laid off, Schroeder has said that most will be transferred to Schroeder Publishing’s other division, the American Quilter’s Society. (Bill & Meredith founded the American Quilters Society in 1984, and built what is now called the National Quilt Museum in 1991.) The company will continue to publish quilting guides as well as their two magazines, “American Quilter” and “Quilt Life”.

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