Computers or the tough life of an antiquarian bookseller

By Greg Gibson

Part 1 – Request for Proposal (February 16, 2014)

filemaker pro
I operate an antiquarian book business. I sell rare books and ephemera at book shows, and through email and telephone quotes to retail customers, institutions, and other dealers. I publish a weekly blog with rare items featured. I post occasionally on Facebook and Twitter. I list books on two Internet listing services, and I publish catalogs online, through my website - – as well as occasional hard copy catalogs which I design and send to a commercial printer. The website is fairly basic HTML, or so I am told. My son manages it for me, but I would like to start doing this myself.

For the past eight years I have used a locally built computer to accomplish such tasks as cataloging my inventory, keeping track of my customers, managing invoices, sending and receiving emails, creating virtual and hardcopy catalogs, and posting to various websites. I use an ancient iteration of Filemaker Pro operating a very basic database with lookup features that I designed myself in the late 1980s when I had a brain. I use Microsoft Word 2000 for word processing, a five year old version of “Art Explosion Publisher Pro” for laying out PDF catalogs to be published on the Internet or to send to the printer, Photoshop 6.0 for processing images, and Outlook Express for email. When I am on the road I use a rather unsatisfactory web mail program provided by Peak Web Designs. Also a scanner and printer, of course.

Now my computer is mortally ill, and it is time to replace this ancient but functional system that I have cobbled together. Understanding that my current software will not be supported by a new computer, my goals are as follows:

Generic low priced PC capable of accomplishing my simple requirements.

Updated iterations of Filemaker, Word, and programs that are supported by the new operating system of choice (I’m currently on Windows XP – soon to be history, I know), and that serve the functions of Photoshop and Publisher Pro, but are simpler to operate (I only need these programs to do a few simple things and have no interest in bells and whistles.)

Seamless transfer of data into new iterations of software with similar or improved functionality.

An email program to replace Outlook Express, with continued access to archived emails.

A means of accessing my desktop while I’m on the road.

A device, other than my low-brained Toshiba Netbook (circa 2010) that will allow me to access my desktop from the road and let me work as if I were in my office.

Training to accomplish these goals (including managing my own website), and advice on how to simplify them. I have no interest in computers and communications technology other than how to use them to sell what I have to sell. So I would also welcome advice on how to streamline what I am presently doing, with enhanced ease of use.

If you are interested in helping me, please send me a proposal stating the means by which you will accomplish my goals, the cost, and a time frame, including a start date.

Read the rest of this article related to FileMaker Pro here.