Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Mobile Map Application for Book and Antique Hunting

I like to use a map application on my iPad when I'm out hunting for books.  Most often, I use the app if I am visiting a series of estate sales.  Occasionally, I might be traveling somewhere and wish to enter the locations of a number of book and antique stores into the app.

The old Google maps worked fine for entering a series of locations in that it stored the locations in its recent history, so they could be recalled by checking the list.  The new Google maps does not work the same way, so I no longer like it. 

Apple maps works in the fashion that the old Google maps did; however, it would be nice to be able to see all of the locations pinned on the map at the same time.  That functionality does not exist with either Apple or Google maps.  I want to be able to see all of my planned stops at the same time on the screen just like if I had sticky notes placed on a paper map like I used to do 20 years ago.

This summer I tried the Click2Map app.  Click2Map is offered in both a free and pay version.  I chose the free version.  In the free version, users can enter and store up to 150 locations, and every single location is displayed on the map at the same time.

Users sign up for an account on the Click2Map website.  The pinned locations are stored on the website, and the app syncs with the website whenever it is opened.

The app does exactly what I wanted, and I have found it very helpful in my book hunting.  The app does use up a lot of data, more so than other maps applications.  It constantly syncs with the server, which is what uses the data.  I did encounter a few glitches, such as the app closing abruptly.  Even though the app has some glitches and uses a lot of data, the benefits far outweigh the problems.  It's the only free app I was able to find after extensive searching that allowed me to display multiple locations on the map at the same time.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Three Investigators #31 Scar-Faced Beggar and #32 Blazing Cliffs

In the Three Investigators #31, The Mystery of the Scar-Faced Beggar, Bob witnesses a bank robbery and suspects that a scar-faced beggar who was nearby helped provide a distraction.  The beggar drops a wallet that belongs to someone named Hector Sebastian.  At first the Three Investigators think Sebastian is the beggar, but they later learn that the wallet was lost by Sebastian and likely picked up by the beggar.

This book caught my attention better than the last book but mainly because it introduces Hector Sebastian, the fictitious famous writer who takes the place of Alfred Hitchcock.  While I enjoyed learning about Hector Sebastian, I found the overall story not to be particularly interesting. The book is quite uneven. I alternatively enjoyed and didn't enjoy parts all through the book.  Sections dragged for me, and I was bored.  Then, I would get interested again, followed by more boredom.

This book is an example of what happens when a story is built around a gimmick.  This was the first book published after Alfred Hitchcock's death, and the publisher wished to write him out of the series while introducing the new character, Hector Sebastian.  The lost wallet provided the means for the boys to be introduced to Sebastian, and a mystery was written around the missing wallet.

I knew that I had experienced a similar story recently that was written around a gimmick.  I mentally reviewed what I have read during recent months, and I finally realized that I was thinking of the Nancy Drew game, The Shattered Medallion.  The mystery was weak in that game, because the game was built around the gimmick of Sonny Joon's first real-life appearance in a Nancy Drew game.  This book turned out the same way, although I enjoyed the Nancy Drew game far more than I did this book.

I skimmed some parts of this book, because I wanted it to be over.  This book is mediocre. 

In the Three Investigators #32, The Mystery of the Blazing Cliffs, Charles Barron and his wife make some purchases at the Jones Salvage Yard for their ranch.  Mr. Barron has made his ranch self-sufficient, because he believes that the world's economic system will soon collapse, resulting in chaos.  He believes that currency will be worthless and that people must buy gold.  Mrs. Barron believes that a superior alien race will be coming to take the chosen people away right as a catastrophic event occurs.

The Three Investigators help deliver Mr. Barron's purchases to his ranch, and shortly after they arrive, the military closes off all roads.  Nobody is allowed to leave, and a UFO is spotted in the nearby hills.  Apparently, Mr. and Mrs. Barron's predictions have come true!  The Three Investigators suspect a hoax and set out to prove it.

This book starts off good and flows quite well from start to finish.  The book starts in the Jones Salvage Yard, just like all Three Investigators books should.  The investigation begins as a result of junk that the boys help deliver to a ranch.  The book grabbed my attention immediately, just as a book should, and kept my attention throughout the story.

I don't think much of series books with UFOs, but this book is an exception.  I was skeptical about this book at first, and I was most pleasantly surprised.

Mr. Barron believes that the world will come to an end, so he has stockpiled his ranch with weapons and fuel.  He is totally self-sufficient.  This part is very plausible today, since many people are currently doing this.

Mr. Barron is hilarious.  All through the book, he delivers quite a few spectacular one-liners that made me laugh.  This book is extremely funny and engaging.

This book is absolutely outstanding.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Buyer Questions from Summer 2014

With the Hardy Boys books: when you say, 1930 DJ, does that mean it is a new book with a copy of an old dust jacket? Otherwise, I would think you would show pictures of the book under the jacket, and the inside of the front. It does take a lot of describing to allow a buyer to know exactly what they are getting. 

This question was asked about an eBay listing.  I have observed over the years that my practice of placing the copyright date in the title of many of my listings apparently upsets quite a few people.  I have always thought that the copyright date is the easiest way to tell if a book has the original text.  For instance, any Nancy Drew book with a copyright date of 1956 or before is an original text book with 25 chapters.  Silly me, because I have discovered that I am apparently the only person who thinks that the copyright date is helpful.  Everyone else likes to check the list of chapter titles to see how many chapters are present.  Some buyers ask every single seller how many chapters a book has instead of using the copyright date or visual clues.

That aside, my original assumption was that the person who wrote the above question was confused, as many buyers are.  However, I was puzzled that the buyer stated that I needed to provide a photograph of the book under the jacket.  I found a Hardy Boys listing that had "1930 DJ" in the title, figuring that was the one that prompted the question.

Hardy Boys #9 Great Airport Mystery 1930 DJ

How very odd...  I do show a picture of the book underneath the jacket, just like I do on almost every single listing of a book that has a jacket.  Ignoring that, I decided to respond to the question with the assumption that the buyer was confused while explaining the bit about the copyright date.  I tried to convey as much information as I could as briefly as I could.  I responded as follows.
I typically do photograph the books as well as the jackets. If you can let me know which listings are giving you trouble, I'll clarify. I give the last title listed on the jacket in the listings. For my listing, "Hardy Boys #9 Great Airport Mystery 1930 DJ," I state in the description that the jacket lists to Chinese Junk. Chinese Junk was published in 1960. Since Airport Mystery has Chinese Junk as the last title, then that means that Airport Mystery was printed in 1960 which is the year that Chinese Junk, the last title listed, was first published.
The reason that "1930" was placed in the title was so that buyers know immediately that the book has the original text from 1930 rather than the revised text from the 1960s. Most people prefer the original text books and seek them. I give the copyright date in the title so that buyers know that the book has the older copyright date, which of course is not the year the book was printed. In the rare case that I have a first printing, I give that information, but you can safely assume that my books are not first printings unless I say that they are.

You asked if the book is new. I do not sell new Hardy Boys books, and I do not sell jacket copies. All of my Hardy Boys books currently for sale are vintage from the late 1940s to the late 1960s. All Hardy Boys with jackets are no newer than 1961, which is when they stopped printing the books with jackets. All jackets are original jackets from whenever the book was printed.

I have some reviews and guides on eBay. If you click on my user ID and scroll to the bottom of the resulting page, you will see them. I don't have a Hardy Boys guide, but the information in the Nancy Drew guide will also help with determining the age of Hardy Boys books.

I hope this helps. I tried to give you extra information without going into too much detail. As it is, my response got a bit lengthy. Let me know if you need any additional information. Thanks for asking!
Of course I never received a response nor did the buyer make a purchase.  On a hunch, I checked the buyer's feedback, recent selling history, and recent buying history.  This buyer is not a seller and does not purchase books, at least on the ID used to contact me.  This person is either someone who is thinking of buying Hardy Boys books and doesn't know where to begin, or this person sells on another ID and is trying to enlighten me as to the proper way to do business, since I am just that incorrigible.

I lean towards the latter.

Around four years ago, another seller sent me an extremely long message taking me to task for using the copyright date in the title and for not using the Farah's guide "print run" number.  Let's just say that I disagree with some statements that seller has made in her listings, but I would never contact her about them.  We all need to do our own thing and quit worrying about everyone else.  

One seller on eBay touches up worn spots on books with marker, then says that the books don't have wear.  That seller also implies that library discards are not library discards and has some other shady practices.  That seller gets away with his behavior.  Instead, people worry about me.

Do you offer combined shipping discounts?

I get this question at least once a month.  I have had to offer free shipping on eBay ever since I had a buyer leave a low DSR for the shipping charge.  I realize that it seems awful to purchase three books at $9.99 each with shipping included in each price and receive no shipping discount.  However, I know how I have priced the books.  Most books that are for sale on eBay at $9.99 with free shipping would have been priced at $9.99 plus $3.95 for the first book if I had charged for shipping.  Therefore, the buyer has already saved $3.95 for the first book and $0.60 for each additional book.  I shouldn't have to discount more than that.

Sometimes I do partially add in the cost of shipping so as not to take too much of a loss.  Those items are typically the ones priced at $11.99, $17.99, $21.99, and so on.  Even on those items, I am still paying part of the shipping myself, so no further discount should be needed.

It is expensive for me when only one book is purchased, and that book is a cheap book.  I have some tweed Hardy Boys books priced at $6.99 with free shipping.  My shipping cost is $3.95, which only leaves me $3.04.  The eBay and PayPal fees get taken out of that amount.  Last, factor in what the book cost me, and I get nothing.  I always take a loss on the cheap books except when a buyer purchases several at once, thereby allowing me to send several in one package.  The combined purchases help me, not the buyer.  That's why I don't offer a discount on top of the discount that the buyer received in the first place.

As in the previous case, the buyer who asked this question did not make a purchase.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Books for Auction on eBay

I took advantage of an eBay promotion and have 84 books up for auction on eBay.  Since I didn't want to change my Buy It Now prices, the opening bid for each book is 30% lower than the Buy It Now price.  This means that the books are on sale if you place the opening bid.  While I occasionally get a bidding war, the vast majority of my books close at the opening bid price whenever I run an auction, so you have a good chance at getting a book at the lower price.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

The auctions show up on the first and second pages.

Remember that I also have books up for sale on Bonanza.

Jennifer's Series Books on Bonanza

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Three Investigators #29 Sinister Scarecrow and #30 Shark Reef

In the Three Investigators #29, The Mystery of the Sinister Scarecrow, the boys stumble upon a mystery when the salvage yard truck breaks down on a lonely country road.  Jupiter walks off to find a telephone, and a man attacks him, mistaking him for a scarecrow!  The boys learn that the surrounding area is haunted by a scarecrow that attacks people.

I thought of #25 The Mystery of the Dancing Devil when I read this book.  I thought the dancing devil was stupid in that book.  This book features someone dressed as a scarecrow who threatens people with a scythe.  This time I did not think someone in a costume was stupid.  The scarecrow is scary!  Just look at the front cover of the book. 

I enjoyed trying to figure out the identity of the villain.

I correctly guessed part of the solution before I was too far into the story.  A nearby museum has priceless artwork, and... let's just say that one crime was obvious to me.  I did not guess the other part, however, so the complete solution to the mystery still surprised me.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

In the Three Investigators #30, The Secret of Shark Reef, environmentalists try to prevent a petroleum company from beginning operations from Shark Reef #1, an oil-drilling platform off the coast of California.  Bob's father is interviewing people from both sides for his newspaper, and the Three Investigators have come with him.

All of the books in this series have grabbed my interest quickly.  This book is the first one that didn't grab me.  I was a bit bored for most of the book.  The most interesting part of the story was the explanation about what the diver had been searching for.  This would have been a more engaging book if that person had hired the boys at the beginning and for the boys to have worked out the solution along with him.  The book was uninteresting the way it was written.  It's like this book was a rough draft that ended up getting published.

This is not a horrible book; it could have been much worse.  It is certainly the worst out of the first 30 books in the series.  The first 29 books are all very good or outstanding.  The Secret of Shark Reef is mediocre.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Book Finds June 2014

Here are some June book finds. 

I am keeping the four Trixie Random House books.  #10 and #12 complete my set, although #10 will need to be upgraded since it is covered with clear contact paper.  #13 and #14 are upgrades to two that I found recently.

Trixie Belden Cobbett's Island from the 1970s is in better condition than mine.  Those books tend to have cracked and split hinges, and this one does not.  I selected it from among the Trixie Belden books for sale at that store because of the superior condition.

I will keep the Nancy Drew Tolling Bell with dust jacket because it is nicer than mine.

Two of the Nancy Drew book club edition PCs are upgrades:  #20 and #26.  The book club PCs from #20 and up are very hard to upgrade.

The Nancy Drew #37 PC with Carolyn Keene appearing twice on the spine is a lot better than mine, so I am keeping it.

The Three Investigators #10 paperback is one I need.

I am keeping the Rick Brant books (except for the duplicates) for now just in case.  I plan to force myself to read all of #1 to make certain I don't want to keep the Rick Brant books since this is the closest I've been to having a complete set all at once.

I also purchased these books in June.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Books Listed on eBay and Bonanza

I have listed 75 new books on Bonanza.

Jennifer's Series Books on Bonanza

On Bonanza, you must change the sort to "newest" first in order to see the books I just listed.  The books include a few Swedish Nancy Drew books as well as a number of Nancy Drew picture cover books of various types.  I also listed a few Dana Girls, Ken Holt, Christopher Cool, Three Investigators, and Vicki Barr books.

I listed some books that came from my collection on eBay around a week ago.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

The books include Billie Bradley, Grace Harlowe and Girl Scouts by Edith Lavell with dust jackets.

On both sites, I have my usual assortment of Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Trixie Belden books, as well as many other books.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Three Investigators #27 Magic Circle and #28 Deadly Double

In the Three Investigators #27, The Mystery of the Magic Circle, the boys work in the mail room of Amigos Press.  The publishing company has a series of tragic setbacks when its offices burn, and the manuscript of famous actress Madeline Bainbridge is stolen.  Meanwhile, all of Bainbridge's films were just sold to a business next door to the publishing company, and the films vanish at about the time of the fire!  The boys are convinced that the events are connected.

It's now summer again, specifically August 1.

I reflected as I read this book how interesting I found the story, which centers around a retired actress and her past associates.  The feeling I had is so different from how I felt while reading Nancy Drew #123, The Clue on the Silver Screen, which I couldn't stand.  Perhaps the use of the Alfred Hitchcock name and the setting of the series near Hollywood helped.  Perhaps the fact that Bainbridge is a recluse and not attending public functions helped make the story more plausible.  For whatever reason, this book is more believable to me.

This is a very engaging book.  It is outstanding.

In the Three Investigators #28, The Mystery of the Deadly Double, Jupiter is kidnapped!  Bob and Pete struggle to find him with few clues.  Later, Jupiter gets free, but the villains still think Jupiter is the boy they want.  The Three Investigators learn that Jupiter looks just like Ian Carew, the son of an African leader.  Political opponents are trying to abduct Ian in order to hold him as leverage.  The boys must try to keep Jupiter safe while they try to find Ian.

On page 46, mention is made of the emergency signals "which Jupiter had built for their work many years ago."  The boys are still not old enough to drive, and this statement makes it sound like the boys have been solving cases for many years.  It is a mistake in the text, since the boys have not aged since the first book in the series.

I also greatly enjoyed this book.