The famous bookseller H.P. Kraus once stated that bibliography is like ‘a fine-tuned piano’. He certainly made use of this belief evident by his enormous reference library. The first group of his reference library was sold to fellow antiquarian book dealers after he died in 1988. This was followed up a number of subsequent sales in the 90s. A person associated with the H.P. Kraus store once told me that Mr. Kraus often kept multiple copies of the same bibliography so that they would be within easy reach in case of need. I remember snickering when I heard it because it sounded so absurd. But I was not even 30 at the time and did not have full grasp of how some bibliophiles think. I am now, many years later, in the exact same position as H.P. Kraus. It was not an orderly plan… it just ended up this way. I have four copies of Dibdin’s bibliography of the Greek & Latin classics, two sets of Brunet with all nine volumes, including the supplement and three copies of Sandys History of Classical Scholarship and so on. But does bibliography still matter? It’s easy to fill up shelves with reference books and as my mentor, the late George Allen of William H. Allen Booksellers told me back in the mid 1980s…. “If you use it once, its paid for”. Bibliography grew out of a need for catalogue listings organized based on general subjects and size. [Luigi Balsamo offers an excellent historical overview in his work conveniently called ‘Bibliography’]. There were some attempts during the early 18th century to explain the rarity of certain books while others published various subject bibliographies. But many of these publications were printed in Latin and failed to reach a broader book collecting audience. The first general bibliography ‘Bibliographie instructive’ was published by de Bure in Paris 1763-1768. The 19th century experienced an explosion of bibliographies some more useful than others. Most popular was Brunet’s Manuel du Libraire with the last edition printed in 1880. Then there was Graesse Tresor de livres Rares et Precieux in eight volumes printed in 1859 and Ebert’s 2 volumes Allgemeines Bibliographisches Lexikon in 1821. England would not be left behind, so Lowndes came out with his Bibliographers Manual first in the 1830s, and later revised in the 1869. in the US, Sabin published a 29-volume set called Bibliotheca Americana. Then, of course, there are the numerous subject bibliographies. Prior to the internet, no self-respecting antiquarian bookseller would issue a catalogue without referencing some of these bibliographies in his listing descriptions. Bibliographies were also expensive. A set of Adams Catalogue of 16th century books at Cambridge University sold in mid 1980s for $650. It was extremely important because it contained all the paginations of every title listed. It now sells online for $250 or less. When reviewing bookseller listings on ABE these days, very few mention any of the bibliographical references listed above. All that seem to matter these days is price. While I understand the importance of the free market, showing bibliographical references when appropriate means the bookseller did his research. Listing a price that is $25 cheaper than ‘the other guy’ is not the answer. Is the book complete and does it have all the plates? Some old books, for example, were printed both with and without supplements and indexes. For those interested in 19th and 20th century fiction, is the title posted for a sale a true first edition, or a first edition, second issue? Any limitations? How would you know for certain unless you verify in a bibliography on the subject? I don’t claim as a bookseller to be perfect in my descriptions by any means though I always try. I am also book collector and I strongly believe in knowing as much as possible in my collecting interest and I learnt a long time ago that it requires bibliography. And I never assume the bookseller or auctioneer know more than I do. So yes, bibliography matter and it always will.