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    Re: Cotter - copy located
    From: Frank Reed CT
    Date: 2004 Sep 11, 18:25 EDT
    Of Cotter's "A History of Nautical Astronomy", Courtney wrote:
    "There's one on abebooks.com for $199.50.
    May I ask why is this book(s) worth $200 ?"

    That seems to be a common top end asking price. There's a copy that I've seen on amazon.com at that price for a couple of months. The book does not sell easily at that price, so the typical bid is probably closer to $50 or $100 (thin market --> large bid-ask spread). Of course prices are created by supply and demand, so the next questions are: why is this book in short supply and why is this book in high demand? The supply side is easy enough. In 1968, books of this sort were aimed squarely at the library market with few if any copies intended for retail sale. Used copies of Cotter that come on the market today are usually ex-library copies. They trickle out onto the market as libraries sell off their older, less used items. On the demand side, I would bet that a significant fraction of the demand for this book has been generated by this very list. Will this "strong" demand last? I wouldn't bet on it. Sell 'em if ya got 'em!

    As far as the book's contents, it's a good history but not great. Overall, I would grade it a solid B. The choice of topics is a little haphazard, and it's focused on mathematical theory rather than real practice at sea. For example, there's a nice chapter on altitude corrections with several equations derived, but, if I remember correctly, there's nothing on the 12/20 rule (which Henry H mentioned in another recent message on the list) that was so popular in the early 19th century. That said, the book is appealing. Anyone who has enjoyed an evening with a good math or physics book would probably find the style and the presentation of the equations and diagrams in Cotter comforting, perhaps seductive. I say "seductive" because the experience of casually browsing the book generates the expectation that it's going to be a great book --just what the doctor ordered-- and instead it's only a good book. If you think you might want to own it, I highly recommend reading it at the library before you shell out the cash.

    Speaking of prices, I bought the "Tables Requisite" (Maskelyne et al., 1781) in very good condition on ebay a couple of weeks ago for $181. That struck me as a good deal.

    Frank R
    [ ] Mystic, Connecticut
    [X] Chicago, Illinois
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