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Blog posts by Kaitlin Manning

Kaitlin studied Art History at Vassar College and earned a Master's in Art History with an emphasis on the Medieval period at the Courtauld Institute. She currently works at Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books & Medieval Manuscripts, located in beautiful McMinnville, Oregon.

The fourth installment of Kaitlin Manning's series on taking better pictures of rare books and ephemera. No matter what kind of camera you use, there are a few basic practices you can apply before you start shooting to improve the look and quality of your images (and to avoid fixing time consuming mistakes later on). While it is true that editing programs like Lightroom, Photoshop, and Gimp can work wonders and correct a myriad of errors, you will want to spend as little time as possible in these programs, especially if you are dealing with hundreds of photos at a time. Starting with good quality images from the beginning will eliminate the need for major edits -- and this begins before you even click the shutter. Make sure you have enough light. I've covered the basics of putting together a home studio in a previous post, but let me reit... [more]

The third installment of Kaitlin Manning's series on taking better pictures of rare books and ephemera. After buying a camera, learning how to use it, and setting up your home studio, the natural next step is to actually start taking photos, right? Ah, would that it were! One very important and often overlooked step for those new to digital photography is to consider how you will process and store your images, otherwise known as creating a “workflow.” This is a crucial step. Your workflow will encompass the entire lifecycle of your images, from calibrating your camera to archiving your files, and therefore must be considered carefully. You will want to commit your workflow to paper, listing out each step of your process so that you can refer back to it, maintain consistency, and ensure fast and easy image retrieval later on. Ideally, ... [more]

The second installment of Kaitlin Manning's new series on taking better pictures of rare books and ephemera. (Review the first part here...) Setting up a home studio does not need to be an expensive affair. Besides your camera, there are two basic elements to a studio: a backdrop and lighting. For the backdrop, the simplest and most effective method is to create a “scoop” background (sometimes called an endless background) where there is no visible horizon line. This effect can be created very easily: place a box or other upright, sturdy object (even a folding chair will do) on your workspace and drape a large piece of paper or fabric over it so that it curves gently down onto the surface on which you will place your books. I find that a large roll of butcher paper works quite well – simply roll out a fresh background whenever it ge... [more]

Kaitlin Manning introduces a new series of blog posts aimed at helping dealers take better pictures of rare books and ephemera for online use. Up until now, I have focused my blog posts solely on social media sites and how to best use them to your advantage. In the next few posts I will tackle a related and equally important topic, a source of much anxiety, confusion, and the desire to throw things at walls – the almighty digital image. Whether online or at the customer's demand, supplying images of our books and ephemera is quickly becoming the norm. It also requires that we as booksellers become acquainted with at least the basics of digital photography in order to meet that demand and present our inventory in the best possible light. So let's begin with the most basic tool of digital photography: the digital camera. I think there is ... [more]

Measuring Your Social Media Success Whether you are just beginning your magical foray into the world of social media or have been tweeting for years, there comes a time when we all stop and wonder, “Is this thing on?” In other words, how can you tell if your posts are actually reaching anyone and generating more traffic to your website or just echoing back at you? For newbies and old hands alike, it is always a good idea to review your social media efforts to see what is working and where you can improve. Today we will consider some easy ways to get more mileage out of your daily posts and take a look at some powerful tools that can give you access to the data sets of your dreams... brace yourselves. Measuring your social media success can be as simple as becoming more mindful of your interactions with other users. One easy way to gau... [more]

Waste Not, Want Not: Social Media and Time Management When you are juggling an endless array of duties and priorities, as so many booksellers are, fitting yet another “thing” onto your already lengthy to-do list might produce the same effect as chopping onions. I would also bet that for many of us, when work gets extra stressful, social media is the first thing to go out the window. While dropping the ball happens to all of us on occasion, if I have done anything with these little blog posts, hopefully it has been to promote the idea that if you are engaging in social media, then it deserves the same commitment that you would put into other areas of customer care, such as answering inquiries promptly. Putting the soapbox aside now, there is one big distinction between your regular office duties and social media: social media is not co... [more]

Enter the Blogosphere I promised another Facebook related post this week, but instead I think it's time to switch gears and get acquainted with some other social media options out there before you start to think that I'm on Mark Zuckerberg's payroll. This week I will consider the pros and cons of blogging as well as some of the better sites out there that support the endeavor. The fact that anyone with an internet connection and an email address can start a blog means that there is a huge range out there in terms of content as well as quality. And indeed, it sometimes feels like everyone and their cat has a blog these days. But as you will see, although it's a fairly easy thing to set up, it takes more than good intentions to sustain a blog over time. Nevertheless, the idea of having your own virtual soap box makes blogging an attractive ... [more]

SELLING ON FACEBOOK? In my last post I talked a lot about the advantages of having a Facebook account for your business, including interacting with customers and colleagues, sharing content, getting “liked,” and learning about trends in your field; or, as one friend of mine put it, “the warm fuzzies.” So let's switch into copper baron mode here and discuss the other dimension that you've all been wondering about: how do we turn the warm fuzzies into customers and sales? The truth is that it takes time to build a following and reap the rewards of social media engagement. The real reward, in my opinion, is realized in the long-term with enriched interactions with your audience, a boost in your reputation, and more sales through your website as a result. But I would be remiss to not discuss a few other options at your disposal, so I ... [more]

Facebook 101 Let's start with a little statistic: Facebook has over 1 billion active users; Earth has about 7 billion users by last count. Now, I know book dealers are not always known for their math skills, but I'm pretty sure that works out to about 1 in 7 people ON THE PLANET who use this particular social network. But don't let the numbers intimidate you. Facebook is as much about fostering smaller communities as it is reaching a wider, even global, audience. But in order to create a sustainable and effective presence on Facebook, it is important to start modestly, set realistic goals, and focus on creating good content and a strong “brand” from the outset. To get you started on the right foot, this week's post will offer some thoughts about how to develop your page and cultivate followers. I won't be going over the step-by-step i... [more]

Choices, choices. If you are reading this, that means I didn't scare you off too badly with my last post about the wonderful world of social media. Huzzah! Gold stars all around! Now that we've dispelled some of the myths surrounding social media, there is the little matter of paring down the incredible number of networks out there into a manageable set from which to get started. As I mentioned in my last post, I am of the belief that it is more important to be active on a few well-chosen social media platforms than do a mediocre job on a wide range. So depending on your specialties, interests, and the amount of time you want to devote, some sites will serve you better than others. You know your business better than anyone, so the choice ultimately must be yours. This post will focus on the top five most popular social networking sites (a... [more]