Monday, June 30, 2008

THIS Is a RARE Nancy Drew Book!

I've mentioned the 1930A-1 book and dust jacket for the first Nancy Drew mystery, The Secret of the Old Clock in the last few days. I have commented that the 1930A-1 book with an intact dust jacket is the only Nancy Drew book that is actually RARE. The 1930A-1 dust jacket lists only three titles on the front flap. We know of fewer than ten surviving copies of the dust jacket. Another one has surfaced and is up for sale on eBay:

NANCY DREW-TRUE 1930 EDITION-SECRET OF THE CLOCK-DJ Item #170234581748

The auction is currently at $2,247.22. The seller is getting flooded with offers to sell off-eBay, and people do this because they know that they don't have a chance of winning the auction. The seller stated in a message to me that she had a $3,000.00 offer that came in during the night, but early bidding prevented her from ending the listing. This is why many collectors, including myself, will immediately bid on something like this book. If no one had bid last night, the seller might have ended the listing to sell it at $3,000.00. We all want to know what this book will bring in a fair and open auction.

The last one that was listed on eBay was sold privately to someone off-eBay for above the seller's reserve of $8,000.00. The seller would not reveal the selling price. I predict that this auction will easily top $10,000.00 if allowed to run to completion. Most bidding will occur in the last few minutes of the auction. The seller says that she will not end the auction, so if she does not succumb to temptation, this is going to be very interesting and could go down as the highest price ever paid for a Nancy Drew book.

Just think if all the Nancy Drew books that are listed on eBay everyday and are described as RARE. They sell for low prices up to a few hundred dollars. Truly RARE Nancy Drew books sell in the thousands of dollars!

Some Buyer Tips

As the buying frenzy winds down, the prices are beginning to drop back down to normal levels for many of the books. I can tell because I've bought several books in the last few days at low prices, and I've seen other listings close at reasonable prices. This was not happening a month ago.

As things get back to normal, sellers are once again going to have to try to convince the buyers of how valuable theirs books are. I RAREly buy from sellers who try to convince me of the value of their books. It is probably because I already have all of those books! Also, sometimes the seller bought the book from me, so of course I'm not going to buy the book back at a higher price!

One of the ways that sellers make their books sound valuable is to put a book up for sale for $50.00 and state that the Farah's Guide value is $200.00 or whatever. The Farah's Guide values are almost always well above what the books actually sell for on eBay, and this is just a ploy to get buyers to think the book is more valuable. After all, if the actual value of the book is $200.00, wouldn't the seller try to get that much instead? Why start it low or have a low Buy It Now and tell the buyers that it is worth so much more? These sellers are trying to sell their books, not get their buyers a good deal.

Another method is when sellers state that their books are worth a certain amount (usually in the hundreds of dollars) because of the prices on the Advanced Book Exchange, Alibris, or any other fixed-price site. These sellers are using the fixed-price sites like a price guide so that buyers will think the books are very valuable. The prices on the fixed-price sites are the prices for books that have not actually sold. Often, the prices on those sites will be ten times more than the actual value of the books. Using those sites as a database for value will tell you nothing.

Actually, the fixed-price sites will tell you when you have a worthless book. If you do a search for a worthless book, you may see hundreds of them priced at around $1.00. That's how you know that a book has no value. Using the flashlight edition of The Secret of the Old Clock as an example, on Abebooks.com there are currently 122 flashlight editions of Old Clock priced at $1.00. We can safely conclude that the flashlight edition of Old Clock is worth no more than $1.00.

Let's go the other way. The highest price on ABE for a flashlight edition of Old Clock is $38.21. I'm sure most people would agree that no one is going to pay $38.21 for the flashlight edition of Old Clock. Someone could list one on eBay and state that it is worth around $40.00 because there is one on ABE for nearly that amount.

While I was checking Old Clock, I found a listing for the twin thriller edition of Old Clock/Hidden Staircase from the late 1970s. That listing is priced at $99.99. Someone could list one of those on eBay and state that it is worth around $100.00 because of the ABE listing.

It's just like when a person visits used bookstores and antique shops. For the most part, the merchandise is grossly overpriced and will still be there months later. If the dealers didn't overprice the merchandise, there would be nothing left in the store. Fixed price websites like the Advanced Book Exchange are like online antique shops. Most of the prices are very high, and most of the books will never sell.

I hope I've made my point.

What makes eBay great is that in the auctions, there is a constant turnover of what is up for sale. Even when a seller has to relist a few times, the book will usually sell so long as the price is somewhere near what the book is worth. While I regularly check ABE and the eBay Stores and buy from both, I love checking the auctions the best because I never know what I'm going to find.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

RARE Books on eBay

I decided to troll the completed listings to see what kind of RARE books I could find:

Nancy Drew - The Bungalow Mystery - 1960 Possibly Rare Item #220243209082

The "possibly rare" in the title caught my attention. The description states, "Though I have seen a few copies of this book with the dust jacket and plain blue hard cover, I haven't seen any books like this one where the art is directly on the book." Hmm, he or she must not have looked too extensively. I would venture to say that it is probably easier to get the picture cover books than the books with dust jackets.

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TRIXIE BELDEN- MYSTERY OF THE MISSING HEIRESS #16 RARE Item #320264762947

This one is definitely not RARE. This is an ordinary softcover Trixie Belden book that is rather easy to find.

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I notice that I am finding fewer listings with RARE in the title for the completed listings of series books other than Nancy Drew. So perhaps I should conclude that there are more RARE Nancy Drew books than there are for other series.

More likely it means that the Nancy Drew books are not as RARE as the other series books since there are more RARE ones in the listings. What I mean is that Nancy Drew books are more abundant than other series books, which is why there are more RARE Nancy Drew listings; therefore, the Nancy Drew books are not as RARE even when they are listed as RARE. Get it?

Some More Strange eBay Prices

The massive buying frenzy seems to be winding down, but there are still several buyers who seem to enjoy paying very high prices for common books.

Judy Bolton - Vanishing Shadow - Applewood First Item #360063578418

This book closed at $114.11. The Applewood Judy Bolton books with dust jackets are still available on other sites at reasonable prices. In fact, the seller of this book has this same book also listed on the Advanced Book Exchange for $9.00. Follow the provided link to view that listing, so long as the seller has not removed it. Sellers who list on ABE frequently put their books on eBay, hoping that the books will sell and for a better price. It certainly worked in this case. I hate to say it, but buyers of the Applewood facsimile editions are not using common sense when they bid on the eBay listings.

I know part of it is because the descriptions are usually more detailed on eBay, and most sellers display pictures of the actual book for sale. Also, for many people, bidding is fun. I prefer buying on eBay to buying on ABE. Even so, I will buy on ABE when the book is a better deal.

In a previous post, I mentioned an Applewood Nancy Drew #20 that sold for $71.99 and an Applewood Nancy Drew #21 that sold for $104.49. #20 and #21 are the two high-numbered Applewood editions that are not yet sold-out! Of course at the rate things are going, they probably will sell out soon to all of the eBay sellers who will then state how RARE they are. Why bid high when the books are still available at reasonable prices? To prove that I could, I have purchased the Applewood editions of Nancy Drew #19 and #21 as well as Judy Bolton #1 and #2 at reasonable prices just in the last week. I plan to sell them. Call it an experiment, if you will.

I am reminded of an auction from sometime in the last year. Tony Carpentieri of SynSine Press put an Applewood edition Nancy Drew book up for sale shortly after the prices spiked. In his auction, he stated that the books are apparently now very rare and collectible, and it was obvious to me that he was being very sarcastic in his listing. The sarcasm was missed by the bidders, and they bid the book up to $40.00 to $50.00, which was what the prices had spiked to at that time. I found the whole thing immensely amusing.

While I still do not feel that people should be bidding $100.00 or more on Applewood editions, I will agree that #9 through #19 are harder to find than the others, and the prices are higher. I can understand why the people who value the facsimile editions above the original editions will bid high on those books, but why bid high on #20 and #21 which are not sold-out?

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Judy Bolton books by Margaret Sutton – 2 books, 2 bucks Item #330244454378

The two books are Broken Wing and Phantom Friend. They are tweed books that are missing their dust jackets. The books sold for $61.00. I realize that these are higher-numbered Bolton books, but I have sold copies with dust jackets for around $25.00 to $35.00 apiece for these two books. This is another case of me not understanding why buyers want to pay so much for ordinary reading copies. Also keep in mind that as per my previous post, the entire Judy Bolton series is about to be reprinted and available at a reasonable price, further making the current prices of reading copies a bit ridiculous.

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Judy Bolton The Whispered Watchword Sutton 1961 Item #140243345983

This picture cover book should have sold for a higher amount than the two books mentioned directly above. It only went for $33.55 and was probably bought to resell.

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NANCY DREW THE CLUE OF VELVET MASK..DJ..CAMEO EDITION! Item #250262085696

This book closed at $116.25, which is way too high. As stated in a previous post, if you want to pay over $100.00 for a Cameo edition, pick The Secret of the Old Clock or The Hidden Staircase. Don't choose The Clue of the Velvet Mask; it was the first book in the set and should be the most common one.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The New Judy Bolton Applewood Editions

Back in the early 1990s, the first two Judy Bolton books were published by Applewood in hardcover facsimile editions for around $25.00 each. Years later, volumes 37 and 38 were reprinted by Applewood in glossy picture cover editions, and these books also cost around $25.00. Aeonian Press reprinted the Judy Bolton series in hardcover editions that lacked dust jackets and at a cost of around $25.00 to $35.00 each.

The Judy Bolton books are finally going to be available at affordable prices in softcover editions with the original cover art. Applewood is reprinting the entire series. The books will be published in two waves, with the first half of the series available possibly as soon as late July. The actual release date is August 1, 2008. Amazon.com has the books available at a preorder price of $10.17 each. According to Margaret Sutton's daughter, Lindsay Stroh, the books to be released first are #1-5, 7, 10-12, 14, 21, 23, 26-28, 30-32, and 35. The remaining half of the series will be released later this year. This is good news for collectors who have gone without some of the harder to find titles.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Barbara Ann Series #3 and #4

I have continued reading the Barbara Ann series by Ruth Grosby, and I have liked each book better than the last. The third book is Mystery across the Border. In this book, the young people travel down into Mexico. What floored me is that the boys named their car Susabella, which is the name of the boat in the Beverly Gray series. It makes me wonder whether the name was chosen on purpose. In fact, some of the things that happen to the young people in Mexico, like discovering ancient ruins, are rather like some of the things that happen in the Beverly Gray series.

I also noticed that the brand name, Coca-Cola, is used repeatedly in the third book. In most series books, there are no brand names mentioned. If a soft drink is mentioned, it is normally called "soda" or "pop" rather than given a specific name, like Coca-Cola. By what is said about the soft drink, it is definitely not used as a generic name; the author specifically means the brand, Coca-Cola. This reminds me of the remarks I made in a recent post about the book, Junior Miss. That book has quite a few pop culture references. Reader's Digest is also mentioned by name in one of the Barbara Ann books.

The front flap synopsis of Mystery across the Border is an example of a synopsis giving away too much information. The synopsis mentions a girl who has been missing for 13 years and how Barbara Ann spots her in a small Mexican town and eventually reunites her with her uncle. Why don't they just give away the entire plot? It isn't a big deal since we already know that in every single series book that a missing person is always reunited with his or her family thanks to the hero or heroine. It still irks me, however. It reminds me of one of the Nancy Drew Files (there is no way I can remember which one since they all run together in my mind) in which the back cover synopsis mentions a murder that does not happen until 100 pages into the story! The Nancy Drew Files are around 160 pages, so 100 pages is not that far from the end.

To go back to Barbara Ann, they don't even see the missing girl until halfway through the book and not until later do they draw any connection. A book's synopsis should not mention specifics that are that far into the book. Rather, it should have mentioned the suspicious behavior of certain characters and perhaps some of the young people's harrowing adventures that occur in the first part of the story. For instance, one of the boys is arrested and accusing of being a revolutionary! Doesn't that sound exciting enough for a synopsis?

Aside from my problems with the synopsis, which is the publisher's fault, the book is great.

I am nearly finished with the fourth and final Barbara Ann mystery, The Clue in the Camera. In this book, Barbara Ann is now a college student at Midwestern. Barbara Ann joins the photography club, and photos are used to solve two different mysteries in this book. It is all very interesting, especially since infrared light was used for one of the photos. Additionally, there are some rather technical descriptions of photography techniques.

In summary, I highly recommend the Barbara Ann series. I saw bits and pieces of Nancy Drew, Beverly Gray, Judy Bolton, and Trixie Belden in these books. The kidding around between Barbara Ann and her friends made me think of the Bob-Whites of the Trixie Belden series. One of the boys is named Mort, which I wanted to read as Mart. The dust jacket art makes Barbara Ann look like Judy Bolton, and Barbara Ann has gray eyes like Judy Bolton. I have already mentioned some of the similarities to Beverly Gray. The books are also similar to Nancy Drew, especially as there are a couple of friends who love to eat, one boy and one girl.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ethics in Bookselling

The discussion of ethics in bookselling is a frequent topic of discussion on the eBay Bookseller's Discussion Board. The topic typically comes up when a listing is discussed in which a seller appears to be purposefully deceptive. Other times, as in the case this week, the topic is discussed because a seller comes to the board asking for advice and does not correct all of the mistakes in his or her listings. The consensus is that deceptive sellers hurt everybody—they hurt the buyers, and they hurt the sellers who do not practice deception.

This particular message thread has some good points made by several sellers. The message threads frequently disappear from eBay without warning, especially when the person who started the thread does not like the direction it takes, so I'm going to post a couple of quotes here.

First, southernbrat makes this point:
The booksellers on this board have a stake in bookselling. When one of us misrepresents a book all will eventually suffer as the buyers will begin to harbor distrust for all sellers. Anger enough sellers and the business dries up. It is hard enough to make a go of this for the everyday seller with everyday type books with the awful rules eBay has implemented so the seller has to be extra careful to not sabotage themselves without eBay's help.
and also this one:
The booksellers on this board are only watching out for their reputation also. You only have one name, so protect it. (or you can be like many I have watched, NOT on this board, change their ID so many times you create a line of ID's that will rival your ancestry history line.)
There have been quite a few cases in which buyers have asked me questions about my listings, and I can tell that they are asking because they no longer trust sellers. They ask me questions like:

"Are there any missing pages?"
"Is the book water-damaged?"
"Does the book smell musty or like cigarettes?"

If I am selling a book that has any of these flaws, I will mention it, but the buyers don't know that. They've been burned by other sellers, so they no longer trust anybody. Or, perhaps they have won an auction and they request that I wrap the book in plastic to protect from moisture exposure. I always do that, but I don't always mention it in my listings, particularly after I had an environmentalist take me to task for it.

I guess there are a bunch of people out there that never have problems with wet mail. I once had a thick blue Nancy Drew book with glossy internal illustrations and a nice dust jacket get damaged because it arrived on a rainy day and the seller had not used plastic. My postal carriers make no attempt to keep my mail dry, and I suspect this is the case for many people across the country. My mail arrives wet at least a dozen times per year.

To go back to the eBay message thread, fine.books makes this point:
The bottom line is simple: don't fudge. Don't try to find work-arounds. Don't throw any pass over 40 yards. If a book is rare, say so - but if there's the slightest chance that someone will come along and prove that more than ten copies still exist, don't lump yourself in with the thousands of people on the internet who are selling books by misrepresentation and chicanery by using the word.
Many serious booksellers use the definition of rare that means that a rare book is one in which no more than ten copies remain in existence. Is this actually the case for the many series books that are advertised on eBay as RARE? The only Nancy Drew books that may actually fit the correct definition of rare are the three breeder set Nancy Drew books with intact dust jackets. As far as anyone knows, there are likely fewer than 10 existing dust jackets of each of the first printings of the first three Nancy Drew books. This is something to think about when you see a series book advertised as RARE, and it comes up for sale all the time.

Let's discuss one of my favorite scarce-but-not-RARE books, the 2nd art dust jacket edition of The Message in the Hollow Oak. There is one up for sale right now, described as RARE:

NANCY DREW MESSAGE IN THE HOLLOW OAK Wrap Orig DJ RARE! Item #120276963394

It is so RARE that it also showed up in these recent closed listings:

NANCY DREW #12 "MESSAGE IN THE HOLLOW OAK" WRAP SPINE!! Item #140242099227 which closed at $61.00

Nancy Drew #12 Message Hollow Oak w/2nd Art DJ NICE Item #260250241792 which closed at $225.00. I sold this one and notice that I did not describe it as RARE!!!

Nancy Drew #12 Message Hollow Oak HC Wrap DJ Rare Item #230260187936 which closed at $187.50

Nancy Drew-Message in the Hollow Oak 2nd art DJ, NM! Item #290240717234 which closed at $174.99

Nancy Drew Hollow Oak w/ RARE Wrap DJ! Item #230257981534 which closed at $202.38

Keep in mind that I have another extra one that I need to sell! So, the 2nd art dust jacket of Hollow Oak is not so RARE after all.

Note: I am not saying that people who describe their books as RARE are being deceptive. Many of them probably don't know any better or are casually using the word. After all, I posted an old discussion group comment of mine in this blog a few weeks ago, and that comment stated that a certain book was "extremely rare." So, I have even misused the word.

High and Low eBay Prices

In this post, I am listing prices that are both high and low as well as some listings in which there are mistakes.

The MYSTERY Of The TOLLING BELL NANCY DREW Keene DJ 1ST Item #270247821816

This book closed at $41.00. I believe this seller was intentionally misleading buyers in the auction's title. "1ST" appears in the title of the listing while the description states that it is an early printing. The back panel of the dust jacket lists Cherry Ames to Veterans' Nurse, which makes makes it the second printing. The first printing dust jacket lists Beverly Gray #1-13 on the back panel and the back flap has an ad for the 4th Cherry Ames book.

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Nancy Drew Vintage book LOT Blank Back Matte PC RARE Item #220247978633

This listing closed at $9.99. It consisted of five of the book club edition picture covers with the blank back covers. The books look like they have mildew on them. These books are scarce, not RARE.

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My Nancy Drew Private Eye Diary (1980)—Red—HTF Item #130232084564

and

My Nancy Drew Private Eye Diary (1980)—White—Rare! Item #130232083864

The red diary closed at $104.01, and the white diary closed at $178.99. Neither is easy to find, so considering what has been happening with series book prices for the last month, these ended surprisingly low. Farah's Guide states that the white diary is "one of the rarest of the Nancy Drew collectibles, with probably less than ten examples known." We have discussed this in the Nancy Drew Sleuths group, and the consensus is that the white diary is not as rare as Farah states. It has been up for sale far too many times for there to be fewer than ten in existence. I have one of the white diaries and so do a number of other collectors.

On the other hand, Farah states that the 1930A-1 printing of Old Clock with an intact dust jacket probably has fewer than ten surviving copies. This statement does appear to be true. Before I continue, please note that this statement is regarding the rarity of the first printing dust jacket; the 1930A-1 book is highly scarce but there are probably at least several dozen surviving copies of the book.

Only a few people have the 1930A-1 Old Clock with a dust jacket; when this was discussed in the Sleuths group, I think we came up with around five to seven surviving copies of the 1930A-1 Old Clock in dust jacket that anyone knew of in existence. Even at that, some of those surviving dust jackets are heavily worn. So, the white diary is not rare like the first printing of Old Clock in dust jacket, and needless to say, I do not own the 1930A-1 Old Clock with a dust jacket.

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MESSAGE IN THE HOLLOW OAK, NANCY DREW #12, HC/DJ Item #140242541861

This ordinary tweed Nancy Drew book closed at $96.00. The dust jacket does look to be in exceptional shape, but it should have sold for under $50.00. Often, even nice dust jackets like this one will sell for $10.00 to $20.00.

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I will have some more comments about the Applewood editions after a certain listing that I am watching closes. Oh, and I just realized . . . happy birthday to me!!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why do buyers pay high prices?

Nancy Drew Applewood 1st MESSAGE IN THE HOLLOW OAK hcdj Item # 250260267976

This book closed at $227.22.

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Nancy Drew Applewood 1st THE HAUNTED BRIDGE Fine hcdj Item #250260268151

This one closed at $250.29.

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Nancy Drew 20 Clue in the Jewel Box 1st edition w/DJ Item #110262818261

This book closed at $255.55, which is a bit high for recent years. I believe when I have sold first printings of this book that they sold somewhere in the $50.00 to $150.00 range.

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NANCY DREW MYSTERY OF TOLLING BELL 1946 1ST W/DJ Item #140241775862

Not all books are selling for high prices. This book sold for $22.51. Part of the reason it did not sell at a higher price is that it is not the first printing. The title of the listing states that it is the first printing, but the first printing should have Beverly Gray on the back panel. This is why bidders need to do their own research as sometimes sellers make mistakes. Just because a listing states that a book is a first printing does not mean that it is.

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It is difficult to answer the question of why buyers pay such high prices for books that should not be selling at inflated prices. The auctions on eBay create a competitive mindset, and that is part of the reason why prices are so inflated at the moment. People see that someone is willing to pay hundreds of dollars for the Applewood editions, and they notice that the books are not available elsewhere, so they also bid in the hundreds of dollars.

Buyers also respond emotionally to certain types of descriptions. If a seller uses superlatives, the buyers seem to bid a lot higher. Some sellers describe their books as "wonderful," "fantastic," "extraordinary," "beautiful," "pretty," "pristine," and "gorgeous." In some cases, the word is used as an overall descriptor of the entire book and jacket. Other times, it is used to describe a certain aspect of the book, such as that the dust jacket's front panel has "gorgeous color." It is always interesting when "gorgeous" is used on a book and jacket that have significant wear and tear. Regardless of whether the book and jacket are truly gorgeous or not, I have noticed that when these words are used, the listings sell at inflated prices. Buyers just love to bid on gorgeous books!

The ubiquitous "RARE" and "SUPER RARE" are now used to describe fairly common books. Even the word "scarce" is now getting misused. Just a short while ago, I viewed an eBay listing for an ordinary tweed Nancy Drew book, The Hidden Staircase, with the original text and digger endpapers. It is described as "scarce." It is hardly scarce.

Sellers also find creative ways to make their books sound better than they actually are. Some sellers describe their books as having paper that is "creamy" or "creamy white." Well, duh. All books have creamy paper unless the paper is yellowed. There are sellers that describe the wartime Grosset and Dunlap books as having "uniformly age-toned paper" or "supple yellowing paper." Um, the paper is brown and yucky and sometimes smells bad, but I can understand why they don't want to put it that way.

The phrase "it is in good condition for its age" is often used by people who are new to selling books and antiques, and it is used by other people that use it so that they don't have to describe any of the flaws. Age has nothing to do with condition as it relates to old books. I have seen 70 year old books that are in far better condition than 10 year old books. It is possible to find any book from the past 100 years in pristine "as new" condition, regardless of age. Yes, it will be much harder to find some than others, but it is possible.

In closing, I do feel that some buyers allow themselves to be manipulated by sellers. They read descriptions that state how wonderful a book is and ignore what can be clearly seen in the photographs. Buyers can cause themselves to have to pay much higher prices by allowing themselves to be swayed by these types of descriptions.

Note: The above comments are not aimed at anyone in particular and are not intended to offend anybody. My comments reflect observations that I have made as a buyer and also reflect my continuing amusement over how a seller's description influences the closing price.

Monday, June 23, 2008

More on the Barbara Ann Series

I finished reading the second Barbara Ann book yesterday (Frank, you are right about this series being a hidden gem!). I thoroughly enjoyed the second book, The Mystery at Mountain View. In The Mystery at Mountain View, the inn appears to be haunted because the villains are trying to get the owner to sell at a cheap price. Each time I read a series book with a theme like this, I think of how that type of scheme would backfire nowadays. If someone made an inn appear to be haunted, the media would descend upon it and give us live reports, and all of the thrill-seekers would decide to stay there in hopes of seeing a ghost. I would think that it would help business, rather than hurt it!

Barbara Ann is a plucky young lady, and she is quite daring in her methods of uncovering the villains' schemes. In The Mystery at Mountain View, Barbara Ann and her boyfriend, Bob, get into quite a dangerous situation after they are captured by the villains. I am not going to provide any specific description as I don't want to spoil it for anybody, but their situation is about as bad as any that Beverly and her friends face in the Beverly Gray series. I don't see situations quite like the one in this book very often in the different juvenile series.

Along the same lines, when Barbara Ann and Bob are first confronted by the villains, Barbara Ann worries about what will happen to them on pages 215 and 216:
There was dead silence for a moment. In that moment Barbara Ann had a vivid picture of Bob and herself lying on the floor of the deserted cabin, a bullet wound through each of their hearts.
This is a bit graphic for a series book, don't you think? I felt like I was in a murder mystery there for a moment.

Something I have noticed about the four books is that the text is much larger in the first two books, so those two stories are shorter than the last two books. I don't know what to make of that.

The series is just four volumes long with one volume published each year from 1939 through 1942. Even though I have only read two of the four books, I can tell that the series is very good. I'm sure it didn't sell very well since the books are not very easy to find, and it was published for such a short duration. I feel like this series is good enough that it could have lasted longer. I suspect that this series died with all of the others that Grosset and Dunlap discontinued due to poor sales and paper rationing during World War II.

The illustration of Barbara Ann on the dust jacket of The Mystery at Mountain View reminded me of other cover art, and it took me a few minutes to figure out what. She reminds me of Judy Bolton on some of the dust jackets from the 1950s, like The Clue in the Ruined Castle, among others.

I have begun to read the third Barbara Ann book, Mystery across the Border. In this book, Barbara Ann and her family travel by car down to Mexico. I love books that have car trips down into Mexico, so I already know that I will love this book. Barbara Ann has recently learned how to drive, and she drives during part of the trip. What is unusual is that Barbara Ann is not depicted as an expert driver like Nancy Drew. She ends up in an accident on the first day that she drives due to dodging a calf that was standing in the middle of the road. It is refreshing to have a series book heroine who can drive but is not an expert at it.

eBay Prices Hit Record Levels

Rare ODDITY Applewood #11 Nancy Drew 1st Edition Item #350070727088

This book closed at $305.00. It is an Applewood edition bound upside down. The text block was placed in the binding upside down so that the title on the outside of the book is upside down in relation to the text. This is a binding error, and what some people don't seem to understand is that in the book collecting world, binding errors greatly reduce the value of the book. It is only when collecting things like coins that ones with errors are more valuable. This is because flawed coins are usually destroyed, and the ones that escape become quite valuable. This is not the case with books. If the book is readable, it will usually be sold. The only time that a binding error does not reduce the value is when it is one of the points that determine a first edition, but that is seldom true.

Assuming that I were going to pay $305.00 for an Applewood edition (which I wouldn't), I would want my book to be bound correctly. I wouldn't want to have to open it upside down. How annoying!

I don't have binding errors like this in my collection as they don't interest me. I have had a few from time to time, but I always get rid of them when I find an unflawed copy. Some errors do interest me, however. I still regret not winning an auction for a nice Nancy Drew book with dust jacket from the 1940s that had the Bobbsey Twins endpapers. That sort of error makes a book unique and takes nothing away from its aesthetic appeal, in my opinion.

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Nancy Drew Clue of the Velvet Mask HBDJ CAMEO Book Club Item #330244708038

This is also insane. This book closed at $222.51 and is one of the easiest to find of the Cameo editions. If you actually want to pay over two hundred dollars for a Cameo edition (and two people did in this case), pick Hidden Staircase or Old Clock. They are, at least, quite a bit harder to find than this one.

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Judy Bolton 30 /30 Phantom Friend Margaret Sutton HB/DJ Item #320263992459

This book closed at $200.01. It also went rather high, though not so much as some other recent Judy Bolton books. It is one of the harder to find Judy Bolton books; however, I have sold several of this title for around $35.00 to $50.00. It normally does not sell for anywhere close to $200.00.

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Due to all of this competitive bidding by people with deep pockets, the prices for all series books are quite inflated at the moment. Take Nancy Drew, for instance. Doing a completed items search for Nancy Drew and sorting by highest price first, the top fifty results all ended at $199.00 or higher. This is incredible. In normal times, the lowest-priced of the top fifty highest-priced completed Nancy Drew books will be as low as $50.00 or sometimes even lower.

Going to the second page of completed Nancy Drew books, still sorted by highest price first, the last item on the second page is priced at $104.49. Going to the third page of results, the lowest one is $76.00. At least 150 Nancy Drew auctions closed at $76.00 or higher.

If you are new to collecting and are wondering how you are ever going to be able to collect series books, the prices will come back down. It may be a few weeks or a few months, but the big spenders will eventually complete their collections or else move on to something else. It would be better to be patient than to spend $200.00 to $300.00 on an Applewood edition.

Recently when I read some of the back issues of The Mystery and Adventure Series Review, there were various articles about series book hoarding. This is when certain people buy up all available copies of certain books so that they can sell them at a high price. I am not into conspiracy theories, but I have noticed certain buying and selling patterns. I quietly file away what I notice in my mind. Series book hoarding does occur to a certain extent, and it is occurring on the internet.

Applewood editions are selling for grossly inflated prices. Go to a used book database such as the Advanced Book Exchange and enter a search for Applewood editions. Click on my link to see the results. Several months ago, there were available copies of the higher-numbered Applewood editions, some of them at high prices. Currently, the only ones there are the first six titles. The rest have been purchased, probably by the people who are selling them on eBay. Even the most expensive of the higher numbered Applewoods have now sold. People are certainly going to buy them up on ABE for $75.00 or so apiece when bidders are eager to pay $200.00 to $300.00 on eBay.

I also checked the listings on Amazon.com for the Applewood editions. For volumes 10 through 15, the only available copies are priced at around $100.00 and up. This doesn't mean that the books are actually worth that much. It means that all of the lower-priced books have been purchased, probably to resell on eBay, leaving only the expensive ones. At the level that the Applewood editions have now reached, some people may begin to purchase the $100.00 copies on Amazon and put them on ebay, hoping to get $200.00 or more.

My point is that the Applewoods may be artificially hard to find at the moment because people have bought up all of the available copies that were reasonably priced in order to resell them. This would not be happening if the bidders were not willing to pay such high prices. If more people would step back and wait, the prices for the Applewood editions would fall again.

This sort of thing also happens on eBay with the Cameo editions. I frequently sell extra Cameo editions that I have found, and the books nearly always sell to one of a few people who then resell the books at much higher prices. There is not anything wrong with this. I have made many sales because there are people who can sell the books for a higher price than I can. As long as I can sell the books for the price that I want, I'm not going to worry about what they do with the books.

What I fail to understand is why the buyers do not purchase the listings that sell for reasonable prices and why they choose to pay high prices for the same books offered later by someone else. I believe that some people feel that just because a book is priced higher that it must be better. If you have ever wondered why some people will throw a $100.00 book up on eBay for $500.00 or even $1000.00, it is because they know that some buyers will be influenced by the artificially high price and will buy it thinking that it is better.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

More Crazy eBay Prices

As the buying frenzy enters another week, more people are putting series books up for sale at outrageous prices—and the books keep selling! Here are some more results:

Nancy Drew The Phantom of Pine Hill British 1st UK RARE Item #320265803579

Nancy Drew The Message in the Hollow Oak 1st UK RARE DJ Item #320265804483

Nancy Drew The Moonstone Castle Mystery 1st UK RARE DJ Item # 320265805406

Nancy Drew The Spider Sapphire Mystery 1st UK RARE! DJ Item # 320265806646

Each listing is for a Nancy Drew UK edition with dust jacket published by either Sampson Low or Macdonald in the United Kingdom. Each book sold at the Buy It Now price of $200.00. These books are hard to find in the United States, but they are not RARE. It is possible to buy them direct from the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand at far lower prices.

Most of the Sampson Low and Macdonald UK editions with dust jackets that are in my collection cost me around $20.00 to $40.00. I paid around $60.00 for one of them. The only one that was quite expensive was the Sampson Low Larkspur Lane with dust jacket that has the artwork reputedly by Bill Gillies that was never used on the Grosset and Dunlap editions, and it cost me approximately $180.00. However, I have seen people get far better deals for even that scarce book and jacket on eBay.

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Nancy Drew The Clue in the Jewel Box w/ DJ TRUE 1st ed Item # 220248692033

Nancy Drew The Secret in the Old Attic w DJ TRUE 1st ed Item #220248693659

Nancy Drew The Mystery of the Tolling Bell 1st ed DJ Item #220248680311

The Buy It Now prices are outrageous for these first printings. Nevertheless, all three books were quickly purchased. Jewel Box sold for $425.00; Old Attic sold for $495.00; and Tolling Bell sold for $450.00.

Jewel Box and Old Attic are described as RARE, and Tolling Bell is described as SUPER RARE. These books are not RARE. They are just scarce. Keep in mind that there is another SUPER RARE first printing of Tolling Bell in dust jacket on eBay right now. Imagine that!

Also, I have sold first printings of these books in dust jacket for far less. For me, these usually sell for around $50.00 to $75.00, depending upon condition. Yes, they are supposed to be worth more in Farah's Guide, but most books do not sell on eBay for the prices that Farah quotes.

The first printing of Tolling Bell that is in my collection is far better than the one that is mentioned above, so as a result, I was a bit perturbed when I read that description. My dust jacket has no chipping at all and just has very slight wear to the edges. The book has extremely light wear. It cost me $114.45, far less than the astounding $450.00 for the above book.

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Nancy Drew The Mystery at the Ski Jump w/DJ TRUE 1st ed Item #220248671596

Nancy Drew The Clue in the Old Album w/DJ TRUE 1st ed Item #320265834659

Nancy Drew The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion w/DJ Item #320265831503

Nancy Drew The Clue of the Leaning Chimney 1st ed DJ Item #220248677063

Ski Jump sold for $199.00; Old Album sold for $199.00; Moss-Covered Mansion sold for $425.00; and Leaning Chimney sold for $199.00. These are all a bit high, but they are not quite as bad as the previous group that I mentioned. Historically, these first printing books and jackets have sold for these kind of prices. However, they typically have been selling for much less in the past few years. Moss-Covered Mansion can sometimes sell for $150.00 and up, but the other three frequently sell for $35.00 to $75.00, give or take.

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VG Applewood # 12 Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene 1st Print Item # 350069861883

This Applewood edition closed at a whopping $194.01. This is excessive. The Applewoods are not worth that much! Early printings of Hollow Oak from the 1930s with dust jackets sell for around this price. Why are bidders valuing a facsimile edition from 1999 as highly as an original 1930s edition???

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There are some books that will be closing in the next 24 hours that are going to sell for shocking prices. It is going to be interesting!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Nancy Drew on Swingtown

Two Nancy Drew matte picture covers made an appearance on the CBS drama Swingtown on the Thursday, June 19th episode. The girl is donating her Nancy Drew books to the book drive, and her mother remarks, "Your Nancy Drews! We read these together when you had the chicken pox!"

The daughter replies, "Got to make room on the shelves somehow. Time to move on."

The show is set in the summer of 1976, but the books used do not have the blue ink on the top of the page edges, as seen in this screen capture. This means that these particular books are from the 1980s and were printed in the few years just before the binding was switched to the flashlight edition. Even so, the props department still did a good job. They did know that the matte picture covers are the older ones, and the average viewer wouldn't know the difference.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Buying Frenzy Continues

As the buying frenzy continues, here are some more unusual series book prices:

MYSTERY OF THE WAX QUEEN by CAROLYN KEENE (1972) HB Item #290236963944

This Dana Girls book closed at $22.72, which is way too high. Since the copyright is 1972, it is one of the white spine picture covers. All of the white spine Dana Girls books are worth less than $10.00 each except for #15, 16, and 17. Wax Queen is #4, one of the easiest to find titles.

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Lot of 8 Vintage Nancy Drew Mystery books HCDJ Item #230261613834

These books closed at $113.61, which is too high for the condition that the dust jackets are in. Checking the bidding history, the same person is driving up the bidding of all of these different listings.

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Nancy Drew Applewood Secret in the Old Attic 1st ed Item #350070105692

The Applewood editions have exploded in price again. This copy of #21 closed at $104.49. These are not hard to find. There are places online where these books can found for under $30.00. What gives?

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Nancy Drew Applewood Quest of the Missing Map 1st ed Item #350070104028

#19 sold for $72.51, and there are some current Applewood listings that are crazy! I don't get it!

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Nancy Drew Applewood Clue in the Jewel Box 1st edition Item #350070101800

#20 sold for $71.99. The whole point of the Applewood editions was for there to be a way to get the original text, original cover art, and original illustrations at a reasonable price. Why are the Applewood editions now worth more to some people than the old books? Once again, there are copies of this title in eBay stores for less than $15.00. Are people using their economic stimulus payments on Applewood editions? Why pay so much?

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LOT VINTAGE LILIAN GARIS MELODY LANE + NANCY DREW BONUS Item #180254808429

I am stunned. Four Melody Lane books without dust jackets sold for $139.99. This is way too high! Now, if the books actually had dust jackets, the price would be fine.

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Dana Girls #29 The Secret of the Minstrel's Guitar Item #170228316565

This book sold for $80.99. It usually sells for around $35.00-$50.00.

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connie blair yellow warning Item #130230572406

This tweed book that does not have a dust jacket sold for $26.00. Without the jacket, this is way too high!

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Cherry Ames Book Of First Aid And Home Nursing Item#160247705873

This tweed book that does not have a dust jacket sold for $232.50. This is outrageous! If it had a dust jacket, the price would not be so odd!

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old Cherry Ames Nurse First Aid Home Nursing Book, VG Item #160250080005

This tweed book sold for $66.00. Just like the above listing, it does not have a dust jacket, but the price is more in line with what one would expect.

The Barbara Ann Series

The Barbara Ann series is a four volume series by Ruth Grosby that was published by Grosset and Dunlap in hardcover with dust jacket. I had started reading the first Barbara Ann book, The Stolen Blueprints, a few months ago, then was sidetracked, and I finally finished reading it yesterday. I enjoyed it. It was particularly good during the last one-third of the book from the time that Barbara Ann gets herself into a jam as she investigates the rival company's office.

I have just began the second book, The Mystery at Mountain View. This passage on page 6 makes me think of Trixie Belden (gee, I wonder why?):
"Here come the two 'B.W.'s' now," called out a boy as the girls walked, or rather staggered, into the doorway of the Pullman. The lurching of the train made walking difficult, and Barbara and Beverly, often referred to as the "B.W.'s" by their friends, giggled delightedly at the zigzag path they made down the aisle.
I'm going to try to read the remaining three books in this series as I continue rereading the Beverly Gray books.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Beverly Gray's Return

The cover art for this book is simply awful. It is one of the worst in the entire series. In fact, I hate this one the most. It is even worse than the horrific Beverly Gray's Quest. At least Beverly Gray's Quest has some character to it and looks kind of like comic book art.

So, I was looking at this cover art and then looked at the frontispiece, which is the same illustration, but in gray and white on glossy paper. The glossy frontispiece might be just slightly better since it doesn't have the horrible colors.

The caption of the frontispiece reads, "Beverly stared after her friend in amazement." The scene is from page 49:
Shirley was coming aboard and Beverly ran to meet her. Shirley smiled briefly and swept past to go below deck. Beverly stared after her friend in amazement.
Reading the actual scene in the book only makes the illustration worse. "Shirley smiled briefly and swept past to go below deck." The illustration has Shirley going in the wrong direction, onto the deck instead below deck. Okay, so perhaps the illustration is instead depicting when Shirley came back up and left the boat, even though Beverly isn't staring after her in amazement in that part of the scene. However, Shirley is still heading in the wrong direction, away from the gangway, which is where Beverly is standing.

It actually looks as though Shirley is holding onto the frame of the entrance while she looks at the sailboats out in the water. In fact, it looks like Shirley could be hiding from the sailboats, and Beverly is watching her. The illustration does not match the intended scene and looks almost as though Grosset and Dunlap took some random illustration of people on a boat and made it apply to a scene in this book.

This is a perfect example of when a person should not judge a book by its cover. The book is excellent, and the dust jacket illustration is awful

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More High eBay Prices

VICKI BARR THE BRASS IDOL MYSTERY 1ST ED--RARE!! Item #120271132672

This one is even higher than the one mentioned in my last post. It sold for $255.00. There are multiple copies available on the Advanced Book Exchange for a lower price, so the book is not RARE as stated by the seller. Also, the book cannot be RARE when two copies sell on the same day. However, all series books may soon be RARE to the rest of us at the rate things are going . . .

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#5 THRU 9 NANCY DREW MYSTERYS KEENE HARD BACK DUST JACK Item #200229083978

This is another example of how easy it is right now to sell series books at inflated prices. This listing ended with a Buy It Now of $99.00. I have trouble selling low-numbered tweed Nancy Drew books for higher than $10.00 each, so I feel that these books are certainly worth less than $50.00, if even $25.00.

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Nancy Drew Vintage book LOT of 10 WHITE SPINE DJs NICE! Item #220244262699

This is a set of 10 Nancy Drew books with white spine dust jackets, nearly all from the 1950s, selling for $102.50. This is a little low. It's not so much that the books are worth much more; rather it is that the people who buy to resell tend to bid more than $10.00 per book for books like these with dust jackets. They appear to have avoided this listing. This listing may be an example of the buying frenzy causing a lower than normal price. By this point, many people are likely ignoring listings in which a certain person has bid, knowing that they don't stand a chance.

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Nancy Drew The Whistling Bagpipes w/ Complete TRI-FOLD Item #320260880170

This SUPER RARE (not) book was mentioned in a previous post. It has now closed at $83.00. It is in nice shape, but careful searching can yield this book with the intact tri-fold ad at under $20.00. The one in my collection cost me $15.03, and I have sold several which each cost me under $20.00. Did I mention that it is not SUPER RARE?

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NF Applewood # 15 Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene 1st Print Item #350067496215

The Applewoods had dipped slightly in price in the completed auctions, but now they are on the way back up thanks to the buying frenzy. This one sold at $75.00.

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Beverly Gray in the Orient

I have to wonder about the following passage from page 78 in which Beverly describes her feelings as she holds her first book. The passage might mirror what Clair Blank felt when she saw her first Beverly Gray book in print:
Along with Connie's letter was a package, securely wrapped. This, Beverly discovered from the letter, was a copy of her own book, just as it had come from the presses weeks before. True to her word, Connie had sent her her copy. Beverly's eyes danced over the closely written pages of her friend's letter and then, with fingers that trembled with eagerness, she opened her first book.

It was a thrill that words could not express. In her hands she held something of her own creation, something that would endure, something she had molded from nothing at all. A sense of achievement swelled her heart with pride. The months of striving, discouragement, and tears were as naught. They did not matter now. Only the fact that at last she had given something to the world. No one could ever take away from her the pride in her first accomplishment. The book was a part of her and for years it would live on. People, unknown and untold, would read it, and through the printed page she would draw a little closer to them.

The artist's conception for the cover and frontispiece were original and intriguing. Connie had written that it was already exceedingly popular. That was an added source of satisfaction. Achievement, accomplished work, always meant more when one's work was appreciated.
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Beverly Gray in the Orient was the final volume published by A. L. Burt/Blue Ribbon Books. The series would have ended with this volume if it had been sold to Saalfield or World like the rest of the A. L. Burt/Blue Ribbon Books catalog. The Beverly Gray series is the one series that was sold to Grosset and Dunlap and was the only one that continued with new titles.

If Grosset and Dunlap had not purchased the series, this book would have left many questions unanswered. It is just one part of the continuing story of Beverly's cruise on the Susabella. If it had been the final volume, this is how the series would have ended:
The mention of Barney's name brought the discussion of Charlie Wong's mysterious house to the fore again. All of them tried to talk at once and the room was filled with the hubbub.

Later on, when some of them had quieted down, attention was turned to the map again. Anthony Anton was very much interested in it. Eagerly he agreed to join the hunt for the treasure.

"And Shanghai Pete will be our guide," Larry proposed. "He knows the islands around Fiji; he knows what sort of things we'll need."

"Hurrah!"

Lois and Lenora danced about in glee.

"On to the adventure!" Lenora cried brightly.

So, with new adventures beckoning just ahead, let us leave Beverly Gray and her friends to again join them in Beverly Gray on a Treasure Hunt, when we will discover to what the map did eventually lead them.
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It would have been very frustrating not to have known anything about the rest of Beverly Gray's adventures.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More on eBay Prices

Here are some more listings from the current buying frenzy:

NANCY DREW - Mystery at Lilac Inn - RARE HAROLD HILL ED Item #150259593663

This book sold at a Buy It Now of $350.00. The dust jacket has a lot of wear, so the book was grossly overpriced. This is another example of a seller setting an extremely high price in order to take advantage of the situation. The Harold Hill editions in nice dust jackets typically sell for $150.00-$400.00. The one referenced above is not in good shape.

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1st? Nancy Drew Clue In Jewel Box unusual Carolyn Keene Item #280232589620

This book is rather interesting. The outside of the book has nothing printed on it—the title, the author, the publisher, and the silhouette are all missing. It is a unique item for someone to add to his collection. However, the book is in horrible shape with grease stains. As unique as it is, I would not have been willing to pay $192.88 for it, and I do feel that the ending price is way above what it should have brought. The only reason why this book sold so high is because the person who is buying everything placed a rather high bid on it, and someone else decided to outbid her at all cost. Looking at the bid history, the book would have sold for $66.66 if the second-highest bidder had not been involved. While $66.66 is even a little high, at least it would have not been excessive.

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Vicky Loring ~ #1 and #2 ~ Girl Television Reporter Item #360060226374

This auction closed at $27.66 with the usual high bidder. I am not familiar with this series, but I suspect that the listing would normally have closed for just a few dollars. What is most puzzling is that while the listing was open, a search for Vicki Loring showed this listing, and right below it were the store listings. Vicki Loring #1 was (and still is) in an eBay Store for $1.99, and Vicki Loring #2 was (and still is) in another eBay Store for $2.99. Why bid a listing for both books up to $27.66?

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Helen Wells Vicki Barr Series 7 Vol. 1954-62 Item #250256640981

This is a set of seven of the Vicki Barr books that sold for $565.55, which is an outrageous price. The Mystery of Flight 908 can sometimes top $100.00, but the rest of the books can be found for less than $50.00 each.

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Vicki Barr Flight Stewardess Peril Over the Airport Item #130228270803

This book closed at $40.99, which is too high. Others have recently sold for less. The most unusual thing, however, is that the second-highest bidder had already purchased four copies of this book, three of them with dust jackets.

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Vicki Barr The Brass Idol Mystery by Helen Wells - VGC! Item #190229936025

This book sold with a Buy It Now of $200.00. Granted, this is a difficult to find title, but it can be had for less. There are currently 6 copies available on the Advanced Book Exchange website for $35.00 to $150.00. Typically, prices on the Advanced Book Exchange are higher than what one can expect to pay on eBay.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Current eBay Prices

I am not going to list eBay prices for a while except to point out that they are completely out of whack with reality. What is happening is that one person is buying up thousands of books and has very little concern for how much she pays. I believe that this is someone who is quite wealthy and has the attitude that she must assemble a collection quickly and at all cost. This person is also buying lots of duplicates. She appears to have now purchased close to three complete sets of the Beverly Gray books, many without intact dust jackets. She is buying duplicates of many other series books as well and is usually paying well above value for them.

Additionally, there are several other people who want certain series books, and these people have deeper pockets than most collectors. These other people are willing to pay whatever it takes to win whichever books they want. As a result, ordinary books are selling for hundreds of dollars when more than one of these buyers wishes to obtain the same book.

Sellers are now reacting to the sheer folly of these bidders. There are a few people who haven't listed items for sale in ages who are now putting up everything they can. There are other people who appear to have taken certain items from their collection and have placed those items up for sale at obscene prices. There are regular sellers who have had these buyers buy a bunch of books from them and have now raised their prices. The prices are going up quickly to unreal levels—and the books are still selling!

As a result, the prices are now at an artificially inflated level. They will come back down, but probably not until the main person responsible for the price inflation quits trying to buy every single series book on eBay.

Let's look at a few examples of this insanity (none of these prices are at all normal):

NANCY DREW #1-OLD CLOCK--Beautiful WS DJ -4 Glossies Item #280231316650

This book sold for $690.00 to the person who is buying everything and was bid up by one of the people with deep pockets. Farah's Guide values this book at about $200.00, and in normal times, this book can be had for less than that amount.

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1st Ed.Blank EP Nancy Drew-The Secret of the Old Clock Item #350067605203

This book is not in very good condition and is not even the first printing. It sold for an astonishing $565.55, oddly to someone who buys to resell, and he outbid the same person who is bidding on everything. Perhaps the winning bidder is feeling frustrated like the rest of us and decided to win the auction no matter what. I have had books just like this and have sometimes gotten only $20.00-$50.00 for them.

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NANCY DREW CLUE IN THE DIARY SUPER RARE 1932A-1 FIRST! Item #140237939490

First, of all, this book is not SUPER RARE, just scarce, but ignoring that for a moment . . . this book sold for $456.00. The main thing that is puzzling about this auction is that the winning bidder also bought another one, item #250254562810 , the same day for $281.00. It may also be worth mentioning what a bizarre coincidence it is for two copies of the same SUPER RARE book to sell in the very same day just seven hours apart!

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NANCY DREW - The Secret of the Old Clock - CAMEO Item #160250947033

This book sold for the Buy It Now price of $300.00 and is an example of a seller listing something at a huge price in reaction to the current buying frenzy. The book sold quickly. Normally, this book would sell for far less.

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Nancy Drew The Hidden Staircase HC DJ Cameo Ed Item #230259170326

This book sold for $179.00, also far higher than normal. The seller is one who has raised her prices in the last week after she noticed what is happening. By the way, the seller of this listing is a reliable seller from whom I have purchased many very hard to find books. I make certain to check her listings often. She is the one who offered the nice Desert Valley that I mentioned in a recent post. Her prices are always a little high, but they are very fair for truly scarce books. Sometimes for the hardest to find books, her prices are even a little low.

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Nancy Drew con. Peggy Lane by Hughes Hollywood 1st Ed Item #330240852965

This book sold for $103.50. Another Peggy Lane book, Peggy's London Debut, sold for the same price. Peggy Plays Paris sold for $99.01. These books can be had for around $10.00 if one is patient.

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Connie Blair Betsy Allen Series Books 12 Vol. 1948-58 Item #250256700697

This is a complete set of Connie Blair books in dust jacket that sold for $710.00. It is possible to obtain Ruby Queens in dust jacket for under $100.00 easily. It is also possible to obtain #4-11 for $50.00 or less. #1-3 are only worth $5.00-10.00.

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Connie Blair Puzzle in Purple HC DJ 1st Nr FINE Item #230259170849

This book sold for $42.00 and is a $5.00-10.00 book, never mind the fact that the buyer also bought the complete set of Connie Blair books mentioned above.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

More Thoughts about Beverly Gray

Lenora Whitehill is the most fun of any series book chum. She is one of several reasons why I love the Beverly Gray books. From pages 32-33 in Beverly Gray Sophomore:
"It was [exciting]," Beverly assured them. "When I came back and told Allison Cox, she refused to believe there was anything suspicious about the place. She has assigned me to dig up something interesting, if I can."

"Goody, can we help?" Lenora asked excitedly. "A nice juicy mystery is just what I've been looking for."
What more could a sleuth want than a best friend who is willing to jump into any situation at a moment's notice? Even when Lenora gets scared, she is undaunted, as shown on page 37 of Beverly Gray, Sophomore:
"That is what we saw," Lenora said, sitting down and staring at Beverly helplessly. "Needless to say, we got away from there as fast as we could. We came back to the Hall, and I even dreamt about skeletons," she finished.

"Did you tell the other girls about it?" Beverly asked.

"Of course I did," Lenora chattered. "I was so scared I couldn't keep it to myself."

"Do you think we had better give up trying to solve the mystery of the mansion?" Beverly asked.

"No!" Lenora exploded. "I might have been scared last night, but in a day or so I'll be quite ready to go out there again."
In Beverly Gray, Senior, on page 188, Lenora laments that she is not having enough fun:
"Oh, dear," [Lenora] sighed when they had finished. "To think, when you were being shot at and racing about chasing kidnapers, I was calmly eating my dinner."

"We would have gladly changed places with you," Shirley assured her. "I didn't like it at all."

"I did," Beverly declared. "It was thrilling!"

"You can have all that kind of thrills," Shirley yawned.

"I wish I could have some of them," Lenora murmured. "I'm getting rusty from doing nothing exciting. I crave adventures," she said dramatically.
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On page 236 in Beverly Gray's Career, Beverly discusses her writing career:
"What I would really like to do someday, not now, I'm not capable of it yet, is to write a play and see it produced here on Broadway. You've heard the saying you can't write about something you haven't experienced. I'll have to wait a while until I even write a novel."

"That's a lot of bunk," Lenora declared immediately. "That experiencing stuff, I mean. Do you suppose that these writers who write ferocious murder stories have ever seen or even heard of the murders they write about?"

"And I know a writer who wrote a lot of college stories and he had never been to college," added Lois.
This passage is very interesting, indeed. Clair Blank wrote her first four Beverly Gray College Mystery Stories while she was in high school. It sounds rather like Lois was referring to Clair Blank herself. Additionally, Clair Blank never visited any of the exotic locales that she wrote about in the Beverly Gray series, yet she was able to pull the reader into those exotic settings as though the reader was actually experiencing them. And Clair Blank was certainly never almost eaten by cannibals, sucked into a whirlpool, or in multiple plane crashes . . .

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Junior Miss by Sally Benson

A seller recently included this book in the package along with a book that I purchased on eBay. Normally, this is not the type of children's book that I read or even care about since my focus is on the juvenile series books, but since I had it, I read it. I liked it. The overall feel of the book and the personality of the main character, Judy Graves, remind me a lot of Amy in Amy Moves In by Marilyn Sachs.

This is the description from the front flap of the dust jacket:
Junior Miss is the story of a typical New York family—Mr. Graves, a genial and successful business man in his early forties; Mrs. Graves, his charming and understanding wife; Lois, the very superior young daughter of sixteen; and in particular, Judy, just under fourteen, a little too eager, a little too fat, stepped on at every turn by her older sister, but for all that, as appealing a little job as can be found between book covers. Whether Judy Graves will grow up to be a Florence Nightingale, a Dorothy Thompson, or a Lizzie Bordon, only Sally Benson knows. Meanwhile, however, her adventures have been delighting the readers of the New Yorker, and in book form will undoubtedly prove to be the greatest success of Miss Benson's career.

Hollywood is preparing to glamourize Judy Graves in its own inimitable fashion. We beg you, however, to meet the real Judy here—the vivid, alarming, and sometimes startling original—straight from the workshop of Sally Benson herself.
The book is copyright 1939, 1940, and 1941 and was originally serialized in the New Yorker. The film that the book mentions was released in 1946, and it sounds like the plot was changed significantly for the film, as is what happens with most books that become films.

The book provides an interesting snapshot of life in the city for an average American family in around 1940. The book mentions fashions and various things that interest the girls of that time period. For example, Judy keeps a picture of Tyrone Power in her locket. Unlike the typical series book, this story includes pop culture references that date the story.

On pages 114 and 115, Judy's Christmas presents for her family are described:
She had bought her father a gadget called a Scotch Bartender, which measured an exact jigger of whiskey, and a practical and charming present for her mother. It was an ashtray, and attached to it was a frog's head. You inserted a cigarette in a place in the mouth, and the ashes fell in the tray. A silk-covered rubber tube extended from the inside of the frog's head and ended in a dainty amber cigarette holder. The idea of the whole thing was to be able to smoke in bed without fear of dropping ashes on the blankets and perhaps going up in flames.
This entire passage sounds like a joke, and it is even more funny to me since I do not believe it was intended to be quite as funny as I'm taking it. Apparently her mother smokes, so buying her an ashtray is a thoughtful gift. I have seen old cigarette ads from the 1930s and 1940s, and smoking was considered very chic in those days. It is interesting how times have changed.

Smoking in bed? This is not a good idea. The book suggests that the ashtray is a clever way to avoid "going up in flames," but the smoker could fall asleep and still go up in flames. It is still dangerous. I'd love to see that ashtray, however.

On page 119, Judy and her best friend give each other a pocketbook.
They had given one another pocketbooks of colored imitation leather, handsomely outfitted with lipstick, powder and rouge compact, comb, and cigarette case.
I do have a vague recollection of cigarette cases being included as an accessory with purses. Smoking was the accepted norm decades ago.

All in all, I found Junior Miss to be an interesting read.

Friday, June 13, 2008

More on Beverly Gray and Ruth Fielding

In Beverly Gray, Senior, a film company decides to film at Vernon College. The proceeds from the film will help the college build a new swimming pool. The company holds a contest to see who can write the best scenario. The first place winner's scenario will be used as the script for the film that is made at Vernon College. Beverly and her friends enter the contest, and Beverly wins.

Soon after work is begun on the film, the leading actress leaves the film company to work for a rival concern. The film company is left without an actress for the college film and must cancel its production. Beverly and her friends suggest that the director use Shirley as the leading actress as Shirley has already proved herself a capable actress in school dramatics. Shirley completes a film test and is hired.

These plot elements mirror plot elements from both Ruth Fielding in Moving Pictures and Ruth Fielding at Golden Pass. In Ruth Fielding in Moving Pictures, Ruth writes a moving picture scenario that will be filmed at her school. The proceeds go towards rebuilding the dormitory, which recently burned down. In Ruth Fielding at Golden Pass, the leading actress for Ruth's latest project jumps contract, leaving Ruth without a leading lady. Mr. Hammond suggests that Ruth take over the leading lady's role.

Since
Beverly Gray, Senior appears to have been inspired by two Ruth Fielding books, this is further evidence that Clair Blank may have read the Ruth Fielding series and modeled her books after it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Grosset and Dunlap Formats

In a previous post, I mentioned the great variety of colors of the Grosset and Dunlap bindings from the 1940s. Probably in an effort to save money, Grosset and Dunlap used the bindings from one series on other series. I want to expand on this a little bit, but I want to first mention what happened during the 1960s.

During the early 1960s, the Grosset and Dunlap books switched from tweed books with dust jackets to books where the picture is printed directly on the front cover, called picture covers. The Nancy Drew books were printed with yellow spines, and the Hardy Boys books were printed with blue spines. The earliest Cherry Ames picture covers also were printed with yellow spines just like the Nancy Drew books. The earliest Tom Swift, Jr. picture covers were printed with blue spines just like the Hardy Boys books. Presumably to avoid confusion, the Cherry Ames books were switched to green spines so that they would look different from the Nancy Drew books. The Tom Swift, Jr. books were switched to yellow spines to avoid looking like the Hardy Boys books. It should be noted that the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books received the preferential treatment; they were not the ones that were changed.

The Judy Bolton picture covers were printed with olive green spines. The Dana Girls books had beige/lavender spines. The Vicki Barr books had blue spines. The Peggy Lane books had vivid pink spines. The Rick Brant books had light gray spines. I will stop short of listing all of them, but while the different series tended to have different colored spines, some of them ended up with the same color.

For instance, the Nancy Drew and Tom Swift, Jr. books both ended up with yellow spines. This must not have been considered a problem since one series was for girls and the other for boys. The reason why the spine colors were changed probably has more to do with the Cherry Ames books looking like the Nancy Drew books. After all, the Stratemeyer Syndicate was likely concerned that people might accidentally purchase a Cherry Ames book thinking that it was a Nancy Drew book. Since the Syndicate did not own the rights to the Cherry Ames series, this would have been very bad indeed. They would not have wanted the Cherry Ames books to take away from the sales of the Nancy Drew books.

To stray some from my primary topic, the Dana Girls books were often confused with the Nancy Drew books, and in this case, the confusion was caused on purpose. The Stratemeyer Syndicate wanted the Nancy Drew books to help sell the Dana Girls books. Both series were Syndicate properties. The Dana Girls books were always described as "by the author of the Nancy Drew books" on the front of all of the 1950s and 1960s books, and on the back panel of the 1930s and 1940s dust jackets. When I used to purchase books in antique stores, the Dana Girls books were usually described as Nancy Drew books by the sellers. This also happens quite often on eBay. People see the name Nancy Drew placed prominently at the top of the book and think that the book is a Nancy Drew book.

Going back to the discussion of binding styles, it was not so important for the books to be different colors during the time of the dust-jacketed books. The dust jackets covered the books, so several series could have the same color of binding. In fact, the colors could be mixed and matched, if necessary.

During the 1930s, the bindings stayed rather consistent in color for all of the series. There are just a couple of exceptions. The Hardy Boys books were originally red and changed to brown. The Beverly Gray series did have more than one color of binding, but that series was originally published by A. L. Burt/Blue Ribbon Books. The multiple binding colors were likely a residual effect from the previous print history.

For the other series, the colors did not change during the 1930s. The Nancy Drew books were always blue; the Judy Bolton books were always green; and the Dana Girls books were always purple.

For the 1940s Grosset and Dunlap books, the different series changed colors quite frequently. It likely is because of reduced print runs and the World War II rationing that Grosset and Dunlap was so inconsistent with its 1940s books. The Judy Bolton and Beverly Gray series in particular were printed in a wide variety of colors. It may in fact be that the sales of the Judy Bolton and Beverly Gray books were quite poor at that time, so Grosset and Dunlap used extra bindings from the Nancy Drew and Bobbsey Twins series on those books. This is purely speculation.

What is obvious is that the Nancy Drew books were always blue. After the first few years, the Hardy Boys books were always brown, with the exception of The Short Wave Mystery, which has been found in a maroon binding. The maroon Short Wave was probably an accident, since it is quite scarce. My point is that this is further evidence that the Stratemeyer Syndicate books received preferential treatment by Grosset and Dunlap.

During the 1950s, the Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, Jr., Beverly Gray, and Vicki Barr books were all blue tweed. The Hardy Boys and Connie Blair books were both tan tweed. The Judy Bolton, Cherry Ames, and Rick Brant books were all red/brick tweed. The Dana Girls and Bobbsey Twins books were both a greenish tweed.

With only one exception, Grosset and Dunlap stayed consistent during the 1950s with which series had which colors of binding. The one oddity is that the first eight Dana Girls books printed in 1954 have a blue binding that does not look just like the ones used on the other series books, such as Nancy Drew, that had the blue binding. Some collectors have observed that the "blue velvet" Dana Girls books seem to appear in Canada with an above average frequency and have speculated that those books may have been a Canadian printing. It would explain why the Dana Girls series has this one deviation from the 1950s standard of using the same color on all volumes of a particular series.

It is only the Stratemeyer Syndicate series, like Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, Jr., the Dana Girls, and Hardy Boys, that can be easily purchased in complete runs with the same color of binding or the same spine color. All of the other series suffered a second-rate treatment, and this makes it problematic for collectors who want all of the books in the series to have the same design. While all of the Judy Bolton books were designed the same for the picture cover books, not all of the books were printed in that format due to low demand. #30, 31, and 33 do not exist as picture cover books. On the other hand, #35 through 38 were only printed as picture cover books and never had dust jackets. No matter what design a Judy Bolton collector prefers, the books will have to be purchased in more than one format. Such is the reality of collecting most Grosset and Dunlap series books.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Whitman Authorized Editions

Here is one last post from the Vintage Series Books group, from August 1, 2005:

I started the Whitman Authorized Editions recently. I first read Betty Grable and the House with the Iron Shutters by Kathryn Heisenfelt. Everything about it is overdramatic. The characters are fearful about everything, even hearing a cat's meow is fear-inspiring! It rather reads like a parody of series books. As I suspected the entire time I was reading it, the "mystery" turns out not to be much of a mystery at all. I found that I didn't really care by that point. If everyone were more open with each other and less afraid of everything, there wouldn't have been a story to tell at all. That said, I did enjoy reading it but I would not give it a high rating.

I next read Ann Sheridan and the Sign of the Sphinx by Kathryn Heisenfelt. It is also a bit overdramatic, but not nearly so as the previously-mentioned book. Fortunately, this book does have a decent mystery. Well, it more involves saving a woman from a group that uses the Sign of the Sphinx in their communications and of course they ask their victims for money. Apparently, they plan to kill their victims, so Ann and her companion Crunch do have a dangerous mission in this book. This book was also enjoyable.

Yesterday and today, I read Jane Withers and the Phantom Violin by Roy J. Snell. Rather, I skimmed much of it. I could tell by the second page that it was not going to be pleasant reading. Snell's writing style leaves a lot to be desired, and he jumps around too much and doesn't explain certain things when he should. For instance, on page 2, one of the girls mentions "Old Dizzy," and it is not until much later that the author states that Old Dizzy is the girls' pet loon. Also, one of the girls visits gypsies who have a dancing bear. Jane catches a wolf with a fishing rod and line. A raging moose is calmed by music and then frightened by a scream. Lots of unrelated events occur, and not everything is explained. I'm glad I'm through with it and can move on to the next book. I do not recommend reading it.