XML? VG! | Newberry

XML? VG!

This is another of those topics I have brought up before. But then, it’s something that comes up all the time. But first, markup languages.

Markup Languages are meant for computers, which is why my brain just will not take in any of this explanation of what they are or what they do. But HTML and XML and SGML are all markup languages. They make computer documents somehow easier to present and work with, and that’s about as far as my aged brain will take me. But they are VERY important.

The term Markup Language, which is the ML in all those languages mentioned above, gained general usage through the efforts of the people who invented GML, or General Markup Language. Their names were Goldfarb, Mosher, and Lorie, which is ALSO what GML stands for. From which you can see my problem. Anyone with a mind complicated enough to come up with a double meaning for an abbreviation is going to be shooting way past us poor mortals.

That man was Charles Goldfarb, who came up with the term Markup Language and worked through several of them. So it’s all HIS fault. He is a pioneer in the whole business of how computers bring us documents, and is therefore a VBD, or Very Big Deal. (Named after a famous penny. You can look that one up.) So a book signed by him should, theoretically, also be a VBD, depending on whether his inscription is in eye-readable form. It is. He has inscribed the book to some other computer maven. Would you care to GUESS what Charles Goldfarb’s autograph is worth? Go ahead guess!

Because I have to. There are currently NO other books signed by Charles Goldfarb that I can find for sale anywhere on the Interwebs. What’s a poor Book Fair manager to do?

Once upon a time, as I have mentioned, in the days when we had to look up book prices in books and in catalogs, if you couldn’t find a book listing after a reasonable search, this meant one of two things: the book was as common as rain in May, and nobody was going to go to the trouble of making up a listing. OR the book was as rare as snow in July (almost said May, but let’s not jinx it) and nobody HAD a copy to sell.

Them days are gone forever. In this day and age, when it is nearly free to list a book for sale online, every common book is up for purchase, either at one cent from lamebrain dealers who are trying to prove something or a hundred thousand dollars by boneheaded dealers who are trying to prove something else. Only the book which is TRULY rare is completely absent from online listing. (Except on Amazon, which will simply tell you the book is out of stock.)

So either Charles Goldfarb hasn’t signed much, OR everyone values his inscriptions so much that no copies ever reach the market. (Or, this being the modern age, I just picked the wrong day to look him up.) Whatever the explanation, there is just nothing out there to give a poor, computer-unsavvy Book Fair manager any clues on pricing this treasure.

Well, my mentor in the book pricing business would have had little trouble here. She would have marked it with a respectable number, always noting, “It’ll be half price on Sunday.” There was a knowledge of basic human nature in her wisdom. All you need to do is tell some people that a book is worth a thousand dollars and they will rush to buy it for five hundred. The trick is to get that five hundred in the bank before somebody lists a copy for sale at fifty cents.

Did I ever tell you about the time I was personally given an extremely rare book, found no copies of it for sale on line, and listed it for fifteen thousand dollars? The next day—the Next DAY—someone else listed a copy for twelve hundred. A week later the listing was gone. I assume someone was impressed by a ninety percent markdown and snatched up the book. I expect to see this repeated. At least I can tell people I was defeated by a markdown on markup language.

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