Taking Care of Business

On Friday, November 3, 2001, members of the Ephemera Society's board of directors gathered in New York City for a special meeting, and as 2001 draws to a close, there are interesting statistics to report concerning readership of the society's site on the World Wide Web.

New York PostcardBoard Meeting
Society board member Cynthia Hart welcomed members of the board at her New York studio, Ron Stegall, president, came in from his Maine home by bus, and others arrived by car and Amtrak.

The morning part of the meeting largely focused on planning the society's 2002 conference and fair, Ephemera 22, scheduled for the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich, Conn., March 15-17. Six speakers will be sharing their special knowledge of various topics of ephemera, and we will repeat our appraisal program from last year with representatives of Swann Galleries once more handling evaluations. Also, there will be opportunities for meetings of special collector groups within the world of ephemera and a conservation workshop.

Saturday evening the society will host a cocktail buffet, featuring musical entertainment, and an auction to benefit the society's current and future educational programs. Members have been asked to donate any number of items or lots to the auction. A catalog issued in advance will describe what is for sale and include minimum bid prices.

Ken Johnston, Manager of Historical Collections at Corbis, paid the board members a visit Friday morning to discuss the collection of photographs that he oversees. The Corbis collection has 65 million images, over 2 million of which have been digitized for availability over the Internet. The core of the historical collection is the Bettmann Archive, assembled by Dr. Otto L. Bettmann beginning in 1933 when he was a young curator at the Prussian State Art Library in Berlin. Dr. Bettmann left Germany during the 1930s and came to New York. Over time, his collection grew to number 17 million photos. He selected his pictures for historical relevance, artistry, drama, and humor. Corbis acquired the archive in 1995.

Lunch was at a place called Punch at 913 Broadway, called by one restaurant critic "one of the best kept secrets in New York." Appropriately enough, one board member had a Knuckle Sandwich.

During the afternoon, John and Tina Bruno, the new promoters of the society's fair and owners of Flamingo Promotions, met with the board to outline their plans for Ephemera 22. John and Tina look forward to the event and making it stronger year by year. Of primary importance is the continuance of building the list of dealers who take part.

Dinner was at Craft, at 43 East 19th Street, an experiment in dining that seems to have passed muster with everyone.

Web site
The Ephemera Society's web site is about a year old now, and there are revealing statistics about our audience, what they are looking at, and how long they stay.

Unfortunately we do not know when, but sometime during 2001 Yahoo included the society's site as a "Cool Link," generating quite a bit of interest. Just about 700 Internet users accessed our site through the Yahoo link. Overall in 2001, most users went directly to our site by typing in the URL, but we had individuals locate us through Google as well as such other search engines as MSN, Netscape, and Lycos.

Special interest searches also brought us readers. People searching bookplates, Valentines, poster stamps, and bookmarks found the site and read what we had to say about their collecting interests.

We have seen an increase in site use from about 1,600 in December 2000, to 5,000 in June 2001, to 6,300 in November 2001. Not surprisingly, the first thing readers see is the home page. Beyond this, the most popular sections they look at are, in order of preference, our list of links, the "What is Ephemera" section, our news and articles, and then exhibits. Thankfully, after reviewing what we have to offer, the next most popular hit is the membership page where we have a membership application form.

How long do people stay? Throughout all of 2001, about 9,000 readers were navigating around the site and reading the features from one to ten minutes. Another 2,000 or so stayed from ten to thirty minutes. In December alone, about 400 individuals were with us for between one and thirty minutes.

Having these statistics as user feedback, we will be able to enhance the site where readers go the most and beef up other portions that should be improved to increase their appeal.

E. Richard McKinstry

[This article originally appeared in the Northeast Journal of Antiques & Art.]

   © 2011 The Ephemera Society of America