February 2016 | Barbara Basbanes Richter

New Software for Old Objects Debuts in Pasadena

What do a musical manuscript signed by Beethoven, a photograph of violin virtuoso Isaac Stern, and just-launched software have in common? All three will make their debuts at booth 505 at the California Antiquarian Book Fair, courtesy of Schubertiade Music & Arts co-founders Gabe Boyers and Drew Massey.

What's software got to do with an antiquarian fair? Boyers and Massey believe their technology will revolutionize how dealers and collectors manage, store and sell their wares. The duo created the program, dubbed Collectival, in a bid to meet their own needs running Schubertiade. "This software is new for the book trade," said Boyers while en route to Pasadena. "Collectival is completely mobile, so while there's an employee back in Newton [Massachusetts] watching the shop, we can review her work and manage from our mobile phones and ipads." The entrepreneurs even finalized a sale while sightseeing at Big Sur earlier this week.
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Collectival co-founders Massey and Boyers handle sales and take a selfie at Big Sur. Image courtesy of Gabe Boyers. 

The Schubertiade website is powered entirely by Collectival. "We worked on this software for 18 months," Boyers continued. "Drew (a Harvard grad who has been hardwiring computers since his teens) wrote the code, and I devised the features." Two major components make up the platform. The public side includes sophisticated search and credit-card processing functions, want lists, and client accounts, while the back-end of the platform is the most innovative. Dealers (not clients) can manage multichannel inventory, create a centralized catalog, and take advantage of advance imaging, multi-platform e-commerce, shipping, record reporting and communication services.

Boyers and Massey consider Collectival a game-changer. "Now, we have access to all the components of our business, from anywhere. I can email a full invoice to a client, right from my phone. Previously, we spent at least thirty minutes orchestrating sales taking place one of our platforms, like ABE or Amazon." Now, a text message alerts Boyers to a sale, and Collectival automatically updates Schubertiade's various selling platforms while also creating an invoice and shipping label. None of this technology is unique, but Collectival is the first to package and integrate these tools into one software, designed with an antiquarian dealer in mind.

Boyers, a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music and current president of the Professional Autograph Dealers Association, began collecting music memorabilia and antiquarian sheet music in college. The desire to acquire persisted. "After school, I started Schubertiade Music & Arts, where I sell and appraise rare books, manuscripts, and art related to music. Drew is the technical and finance director." Collectival is currently in the beta-testing phase and scheduled to launch in a few months. Dealer packages start at $199 a month. A scaled-down version is available free to collectors interested in a modern way to handle their storing and cataloging needs.