Saturday, May 31, 2008

eBay Pulse and eBay Search

Many people are unaware of a page on eBay that tracks which auctions have the most watchers and also tracks the most popular search terms. The page is the eBay Pulse. It is interesting to view the most popular search terms for the Books category on eBay. "Nancy Drew" is consistently one of the top 10 most searched terms in the entire Books category. Here are the current top 10 searches for the Books category in eBay Pulse, listed in order:

1. easton press
2. stephen king
3. harry potter
4. nancy drew
5. bible
6. james patterson
7. nora roberts
8. signed
9. chess
10. star wars

Checking within the Books category, here are the top 10 search terms for the Antiquarian and Collectibles Books category in eBay Pulse:

1. easton press
2. bible
3. civil war
4. stephen king
5. signed
6. cookbook
7. harry potter
8. nancy drew
9. german
10. books

Here are the top 10 searches for the Children's Books category in eBay Pulse:

1. childrens books
2. nancy drew
3. lot
4. harry potter
5. american girl
6. dr seuss
7. magic tree house
8. little golden books
9. disney
10. bible

What I noticed is that in all three lists, Nancy Drew and Harry Potter seem to have about the same amount of interest.

........................................................


Buyers often find it difficult to find certain types of items because the listings are flooded by certain sellers. This just happened in the last few weeks in the Books category. EBay has a partnership with Buy.com in which Buy.com now lists hundreds of thousands of books on eBay. It has rendered many searches useless.

As an example, searching for the Outdoor Girls series has become problematic because several of the public domain texts were recently reprinted. Buy.com has flooded eBay with these listings. Doing a search for the Outdoor Girls series under title and description yields 47 results. 37 of the 47 results are brand-new reprints offered by Buy.com. It makes it harder to spot the older books when a buyer has to wade through multiple copies of new reprints.

There is a remedy for this situation. In order to combat this problem, it is necessary to use the saved searches feature from within My eBay. The buyer must first enter a search from eBay's Search page. If the buyer does not already use the Advanced Search, it will be necessary to click on "Advanced Search" right underneath the search selections. From the Advanced Search page, enter the desired search term. Scroll down to where it states "From Sellers." Click on "From specific sellers (enter sellers' user IDs)" and select "exclude" in the drop down box. Now enter both "buy" and "primemediaking" inside that search box, separated by commas. These two ids belong to Buy.com. Click on "Search" and then click on "Save this search." The search will be saved and Buy.com's listings will no longer show when the buyer clicks on that search from the Saved Searches page.

I am gradually going through my saved searches and revising them to exclude Buy.com. Since I am not planning to purchase the reprints, I would rather not have them cluttering up my searches. Besides, even if I were planning to purchase the reprints, I would just buy them from Amazon.com.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Outdoor Girls in Desert Valley

I have finally acquired a copy of The Outdoor Girls in Desert Valley that has a dust jacket which does not have a faded spine. This is my fourth copy of Desert Valley in dust jacket. It isn't perfect; it has a chip out of the lower spine, but it is the first one that I have been satisfied with.

My first copy was badly water-damaged. I cannot recall whether the spine of that jacket was faded, but it was in such bad shape with ink that had bled that it hardly mattered. My second and third dust jackets of Desert Valley both were in great shape but with badly-faded spines. It has been frustrating trying to get one without a faded spine. I recall one that sold in the past year at a very high price, and it also had a faded spine.

I have wondered why all of the Desert Valleys seem to have faded spines, whereas most of the other Outdoor Girls books that I have found have not had faded spines. Most of the Outdoor Girls dust jackets have the print on the spines in either dark blue or black ink. Dark blue and black ink are not that prone to fading. Desert Valley has the print in reddish-brown. This color is very prone to fading. The spine of my dust jacket looks a little faded simply because of the color of ink. It even could be slightly faded. All I know is that it is by far the best one that I have ever seen. The mystery of the faded spines is solved!

Using Images from Websites

Frequently, sellers on eBay swipe images from various websites in an attempt to spiffy up their listings. Some sellers seem to think that it is better to use one of these images instead of an image of what is actually up for sale. I have never understood why some people think it is better to use a generic borrowed image instead of an image representing what is being sold, but then I'm not the type of person who takes shortcuts. I usually ignore such listings, even when the image is an image of a book from one of my cover art galleries.

The only time that I request the seller to remove the image is when the seller chooses a certain image that is connected solely to me. The Nancy Drew image that is currently used in this blog, also pictured at the top of this post, seems to be the favorite one that sellers like to swipe from my series book site. I greatly dislike it when this particular image is chosen, simply because some buyers will assume that I am the person who has listed the auction. I never use any of my website images in any of my listings. I have only used this image in this blog, on my website in the Nancy Drew section, and currently on my eBay "My World" page.

Months ago, I changed the name of this image so that it would not show up so high in in the Google Images search. Unfortunately, someone has swiped the image for their site, and their copy of my image is now high in the search results. This is undoubtedly why the image is getting swiped again for eBay auctions. It is frustrating.

I have another website which is devoted to a certain version of Zorro. There is an image prominently pictured on that site which is a collage, and bootleggers decided to use it on copies of their bootleg discs. At a result, additional bootleggers decided to use the image to sell their copies of the bootlegs. It is like the bootleggers thought that my image was an official image for the series. So what happened is that the image was used as the picture on an eBay listing. I was unaware until someone contacted me to ask whether I was the person selling the discs. This person thought that because my image was in the listing that I was the seller, or at the very least that I had endorsed the listing.

In some ways, the situation was funny because the image had taken on a life of its own. I could not help but find it amusing in that respect. However, the situation made me very uncomfortable because some people were assuming that I was the seller. I was not happy that my reputation could be damaged by people buying from a bootlegger and thinking that I was the seller. What if the buyer ended up not pleased with the discs and thought that I had ripped them off? This was not good. My solution was to place a message on my website under the collage stating that the collage was used on bootleg listings and that I had nothing to do with it. I have left that message there ever since, and it is rather tacky, but the bootleggers don't use the image anymore. They don't like my message identifying any listing with that image as a bootleg!

So to go back to the Nancy Drew collage . . . if you see it in a listing, I have nothing to do with it!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Prettiest Ceramic Christmas Tree

This beautiful tree was purchased one week ago. It cost $14.00 and was worth every cent! It is big, gaudy, and pretty. I do believe I like it the very best of all of the trees that I have ever purchased. The tree stands approximately 21 inches tall and is approximately 14 inches wide at its widest point. Whenever I photograph these trees for this blog, they all end up looking about the same. There is no way to truly appreciate their differences without seeing them in person. This one is wonderful! Even though this isn't the holiday season, I decided to have it lit for the duration of the Memorial Day weekend. This tree is too nice to wait until later this year to enjoy it!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Beverly Gray's Move to Grosset and Dunlap

A. L. Burt published the first eight Beverly Gray books from 1934 through 1937. In early 1937, A. L. Burt was sold to Blue Ribbon Books, and this made Beverly Gray's future uncertain. At first, Blue Ribbon Books informed Clair Blank that they would continue to publish the Beverly Gray series, but by the end of 1937 the company suggested that Clair Blank offer her series to another publisher.

Clair Blank did indeed contact other publishers, including Reilly and Lee. Reilly and Lee was not interested, so Clair contacted Cupples and Leon, which was very interested. The company would probably have published the Beverly Gray books, but Clair learned that Blue Ribbon Books had suddenly decided to sell its entire catalog of juvenile series books. Beverly Gray had been sold to Grosset and Dunlap.

It is interesting that the Beverly Gray series went to Grosset and Dunlap, because most of the A. L. Burt catalog was either never published again or was sold to either Saalfield or World. The series books that went to Saalfield or World, such as Clair Blank's Adventure Girls Series, ceased to have new titles. Saalfield and World did not have the budgets to pay for new titles; they were strictly reprint houses.

Any series that went to Saalfield or World is not very difficult to find today due to the many reprints, but the downside is that those series did end with the titles published by Burt. Some series, such as the Girl Scouts Mystery Series by Virginia Fairfax, were not sold to another publisher and disappeared from print. This is why the Fairfax books are now so scarce and elusive.

The Girls Scouts Series by Edith Lavell is another series that Burt published that disappeared after Blue Ribbon Books dissolved the Burt catalog. The Linda Carlton Series by Edith Lavell was sold to Saalfield, but only the first three titles were reprinted by Saalfield. Volume 4, Linda Carlton's Perilous Summer, and volume 5, Linda Carlton's Hollywood Flight, are exceedingly scarce (rare would unquestionably apply to these two books) and nearly impossible to find since they were only published by Burt.

It is because Beverly Gray was sold to Grosset and Dunlap rather than to Saalfield or World that the series continued to be published. If Blue Ribbon Books had sold the rights to either Saalfield or World, there would have been no more new titles. Clair Blank contacted Saalfield to ask whether they would be publishing new Adventure Girls books, and she was told that they were not interested. The answer would have surely been the same if Beverly Gray had been sold to Saalfield.

Beverly Gray was the A. L. Burt Company's best-selling series aside from the Famous Books for Young Americans. This fact was stated by Clair Blank's old editor in a letter that was reprinted in Yellowback Library No. 66. It must have been because Beverly Gray was the best-selling A. L. Burt series that it was purchased by Grosset and Dunlap.

It is indeed fortunate that Grosset and Dunlap purchased Beverly Gray and continued to print new titles each year. The series ultimately lasted for a total of 26 volumes. Grosset and Dunlap may not have given Beverly Gray the best cover art and may not have treated her as well as they could have, but at least they gave her a home and kept her around for nearly 20 more years after the demise of A. L. Burt.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The 1940s Grosset and Dunlap Formats

In reflecting over the different format changes of the old Grosset and Dunlap books, it becomes apparent that Grosset and Dunlap gave Nancy Drew the best treatment. This is probably partly because of the Stratemeyer Syndicate's ownership of Nancy Drew and partly because Nancy Drew was Grosset and Dunlap best moneymaker.

The Nancy Drew books always had the best illustrations. I can think of no juvenile series that had nicer illustrations than the 1930s Nancy Drew books done by Russell Tandy. Additionally, the Nancy Drew books always had frontispiece illustrations, even during the 1940s. Grosset and Dunlap did everything it could to cut costs during the 1940s, such as taking many series out of print, including the Dana Girls. Grosset and Dunlap eliminated the frontispieces from many series books. Some of the Judy Bolton and Beverly Gray books from the 1940s were printed without the frontispieces. I have never seen a Nancy Drew book without a frontispiece.

Also during the 1940s, Grosset and Dunlap used a wide variety of bindings on its series books. What they probably did was use the bindings intended for one series on another series. For instance, the blue Nancy Drew bindings were used on some of the Beverly Gray books; or, the green Bobbsey Twins bindings were used on some of the Judy Bolton or Beverly Gray books. The Stratemeyer Syndicate series books do not seem to have as many binding variations as the independent series books. The bindings of the Nancy Drew books were always blue. The Beverly Gray books from the same time period were light green, medium green, dark green, medium blue, dark blue, maroon, and red. The Judy Bolton books were light green, medium green, dark green, orange, and red.

The Nancy Drew endpapers stayed pretty consistent during the 1940s. The one inconsistency was when the maroon Dana Girls endpapers were used on the Nancy Drew books. Of course, the Dana Girls endpapers were only used because the Dana Girls went out of print and something had to be done with those leftover endpapers . . .

These have been my thoughts as I have been looking over my Beverly Gray books this weekend. With me, to think is to act, so I have been busy building a Beverly Gray Formats page. I did not realize that there were so many different colors of binding used on the Beverly Gray books during the 1940s! I noticed the lack of frontispieces inside some of the books and realized that Beverly Gray was like an unwanted stepchild. The Beverly Gray dust jacket art was pitiful during the 1940s. Beverly Gray deserved much better, but we are very lucky that the series even survived the move to Grosset and Dunlap. She nearly didn't make it. Beverly Gray's fortuitous move to Grosset and Dunlap might be a good topic for my next post.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Series Book Discussion Groups

There are some great discussion groups about series books on the web. I suspect that many of the buyers who pay high prices for commonplace series books are not members of these groups. The discussion groups are a great way to stay informed about the values of series books and information about reprints.

One of the most active groups is the Nancy Drew Sleuths Discussion Group at Yahoo! Groups.

Another group is the Judy Bolton Fans Discussion Group at Yahoo! Groups. The Judy Bolton group discusses the different Judy Bolton books in great detail. Additionally, Margaret Sutton's daughter, Lindsay Stroh, is an active member of the group and often posts memories about her mother.

The Dana Girls Group at Yahoo! Groups contains some very interesting information in the files and photos sections that is not available elsewhere on the web.

The Girls Series Group at Yahoo! Groups is no longer very active, but it contains a wealth of information from past messages over the years. A search from the homepage of the group for a series or series author will list all of the past comments about that series or author. It is from the archives of this group that I do a lot of my research.

For instance, I am interested in creating a formats page for the Beverly Gray series for my website. Even though I have a complete set of the books and know a lot about the series, I do not own all of the variations and do not know how many variations there are. I did a search in the Girls Series Group, and I discovered that some of the last printings of the 1930s Beverly Gray Burt books by Blue Ribbon Books were red instead of gray.

For any of the groups, it is advisable to input a search for a desired topic to see whether it has ever been discussed. This is easier than trying to read the archives of each group, since some of these groups have many thousands of messages.

There are other groups on Yahoo! that may be of interest. A search from the Yahoo! Groups homepage will bring up a list of the groups for any given topic.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Another Ceramic Christmas Tree

This ceramic Christmas tree was purchased last week. It cost only $2.00 plus tax. Most of the lights were still present, so I had to replace only around six of them. Including the base, the tree stands 13 1/2 inches tall. Without the base, the tree stands 11 inches tall.

For newer readers of this blog, my interest in ceramic trees began when I found one in a thrift store and was struck by how similar it was to the ceramic tree on the cover of the Judy Bolton mystery, The Secret of the Musical Tree. I buy my ceramic Christmas trees exclusively in thrift stores, where I find that they consistently underprice them. These trees can easily sell for $20.00 and up on eBay.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Nancy Drew Values and Collecting Tips

I have continued to mull over some of the high prices that are currently being paid for the Nancy Drew Applewood editions. I decided that it wouldn't hurt to create a page in which I discuss which Nancy Drew books are RARE and which ones are not RARE. I created that page this weekend. As I state on my newly-created page, I have decided to capitalize the word RARE as a tribute to the sellers who like to use it in their listings. :)

Nancy Drew Values and Collecting Tips