Sunday, August 31, 2008

More eBay Changes Part IV

I have been reading more about the upcoming eBay changes. PayPal will soon be the only payment method accepted on eBay, although eBay will integrate a few other online payment methods in early 2009. Sellers will be unable to solicit checks and money orders, but sellers will be able to accept checks and money orders so long as the buyer makes the request. In order for the buyer to pay by check or money order, the buyer will have to receive permission from the seller and will need the seller to provide his or her mailing address.

If a buyer should decide to pay by check or money order, then the buyer will not complete checkout, since PayPal will be the only payment method offered in checkout. EBay will monitor whether sellers are compliant with the new policy by the rate with which their buyers complete checkout. If a seller has consistently low checkout completion rates, eBay will conclude that the seller is soliciting checks and money orders and will slap a policy violation on the seller.

I have checked further into the new shipping rates. I am not certain whether the shipping calculator will be available for listings that contain a single book, but sellers are not to use it in that case. If a listing contains a larger lot of books, then the shipping calculator will be available for the seller to enter a higher weight. In all cases, sellers' accounts will be monitored to see whether they are compliant with the new policy. Sellers who use the shipping calculator too much could receive a policy violation.

When sellers receive policy violations, their rankings are lowered in eBay's Best Match search. Sellers must be compliant or face the possibility of reduced exposure in search. Any seller who receives too many policy violations can be blocked from selling or suspended from eBay permanently.

The DSR ratings continue to bother me the most. I have just received DSR ratings from a buyer of a couple weeks ago, and that buyer gave me low ratings on both communication and shipping fees. Since that buyer gave me low ratings on the two DSRs, my search exposure has been reduced in Best Match. I believe that I received threes on the two DSRs from that one buyer, and that buyer probably thought that threes are neutral as suggested by eBay. What really annoys me about it is that I went to the trouble of sending the buyer a message stating when I mailed the package. Exactly what, in that buyer's opinion, would I need to have done in order to receive a five on the communication DSR?

It is only the 30-day DSR ratings that count towards search exposure, so when a seller only sells sporadically, that seller may never have good search exposure when buyers give that seller low ratings. This is why it is very important to give all sellers fives in all four areas, unless the seller significantly messes up the transaction. EBay has certainly set things up so that small sellers will have reduced exposure. For those of us who buy old books, it is the small sellers who have nearly all of the books we want.

As a buyer, I want to be able to see all items in search. I do not want some items to be suppressed because some buyers rate sellers harshly. I have had many successfully completed transactions with marginal sellers. EBay should let me decide whether to see a seller's items. I can decide for myself whether to bid.

EBay has not revealed exactly what the standards are for lowered, standard, and raised search exposure, but from what I have read, it appears that if all four of a seller's 30-day DSRs are 4.8 and above, then that seller will receive raised search exposure. If a seller's 30-day DSRs are all between 4.6 and 4.8, then that seller will receive standard search exposure. If even one 30-day DSR is below 4.6, then that seller will receive lowered search exposure. Does anyone actually think that a 4.6 (92%) is bad? I doubt it, yet eBay interprets it as bad.

EBay tells buyers that the DSRs are completely anonymous in order to encourage buyers to be completely honest, or rather, harsh on their sellers. The only time that the DSRs are anonymous is when a seller is very high volume and gets dozens of DSRs each day. Sellers like me get no more than one or two feedbacks each day, if even that. All eBay users have a Seller Dashboard in My eBay. Each time I see that a buyer has given me the DSRs, I go to the Seller Dashboard which shows my exact DSR values to the nearest hundredth. It is easy to see whether a buyer has given me a rating that is high or low. Since two of my DSRs went down noticeably when the last buyer left the DSRs, I knew that she had rated me low on those two DSRs.

In the last few days, I began to be less upset about the changes after I concluded that eBay would only suspend sellers whose one year DSR ratings fall to 4.3. I have read the policy again, and I was wrong. Sellers who have a DSR rating that falls to 4.3 in a 30-day period will also be suspended by eBay. This is not good. Just think—a low-volume seller could receive three fours and a five in a 30-day period and be suspended by eBay. Three fours and a five average out to 4.25, which is failing by eBay's new standards. All low-volume eBay sellers are in danger of being suspended due to eBay telling buyers that a four is good and a three is neither good nor bad!

It also appears that eBay is already implementing some of the new rules. Sellers are having auctions ended that do not specify the shipping charges. In just the last few days, some sellers have begun posting on the eBay message boards that they have been suspended . . . and they do not understand why. This message thread is one example and reading it is rather scary for me as a seller. No one can tell how eBay is deciding to suspend some of these sellers who have a good overall track record. People are beginning to panic. There is speculation that the new rules have already gone into affect and that eBay is not waiting until October or November to implement them. I would strongly suggest that sellers go ahead and remove references to checks and money orders, since eBay could implement that policy early as well.

Earlier this year, I still had optimism that eBay would remain viable, while others thought that it was the beginning of the end. I now feel that eBay is indeed self-destructing and that it may be unrecognizable in less than one year.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #9

Advanced collectors of Nancy Drew books know that the spines of the earlier, mostly original text picture cover books look different from the later, mostly revised text picture cover books. If newer collectors can become familiar with this distinction, then they can avoid some unnecessary questions.

Regarding item #350086058782, a buyer asks the seller when the books were published. The seller looks through a few of the books, stating that they are from the 1970s. Here is one of the pictures from the auction:

Pay particular attention to the titles on the spines. Notice that most of them appear to be in all capital letters. These books are indeed from the 1970s.

I pulled books off of my shelf to match with the titles seen in the above photo. The books I pulled out are all first printing or very early printing picture cover books from the early 1960s:


All of these books have the 25 chapter text except for #35, which was never published in 25 chapters. Notice that all of these books have the titles in mixed-case letters.

In general, early picture cover books have the titles in mixed-case letters and later picture cover books with the revised texts have the titles in all capital letters. By knowing this fact, buyers can tell at a glance whether most of the books in a listing are from the 1960s or from the 1970s and early 1980s.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #8

Check out this listing:

NANCY DREW THE MYSTERY OF CROCODILE ISLAND # 55 Item #190241929892

At first glance, this book appears to be a matte picture cover edition of volume 55. All the seller states about the book is that it is "HARD COVER, YELLOW BINDING." What a detailed description. Remember to be observant. It helps that I collect library bindings, which is why I believe that this book is a library binding.


The book cannot be a flashlight edition since it does not have the yellow band along the top with the flashlight logo. The book appears to be a matte picture cover, but the book looks a little shiny in the picture. Matte PCs are not shiny. Notice that the spine has a library sticker. The book must be a library discard. The colors look a bit off in the picture. It is just not quite right. At any rate, the cover does not look like any matte PCs of #55 that I have seen. Compare the image to this matte PC:

So what is it? Most likely the book is a Perma-Bound library binding. To see other Perma-Bound Nancy Drew books, go to this page:

http://www.series-books.com/nancydrew/minstrela.html


Scroll down a little bit to see the Perma-Bound books. The book from the auction looks like the front cover illustration has been reproduced poorly, like the Perma-Bound books. The front cover looks like a color photocopy, which is how the Perma-Bound covers are created.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #7

Many buyers do not know what the front cover of Nancy Drew books look like for certain types of endpapers.

Nancy Drew Mystery Nancy's Mysterious Letter 1932! Item #140255114964

Most of the questions asked of the seller were necessary for the buyers to determine the printing of the book. The first part of this question was not necessary:
Question: What type of endpaper design does it have? What is the last ND title listed on the front inside flap of DJ?

Answer: The inside cover and endpaper is orange silhouette of Nancy Drew with a magnifying glass and three girls standing across the way. The last Nancy drew Story listed is The Mystery Of The Ivory Charm. Ed
This is the seller's photo of the book:


All books with the orange silhouette in the center of the front cover have the orange silhouette endpapers. There are no exceptions whatsoever! Notice that the center of the front cover has an orange silhouette. Likewise, the endpapers have the orange silhouette.

This is what a blank endpapers book looks like:

Notice that there is no image of Nancy Drew on the front cover. Likewise, the endpapers are blank; there is nothing printed on them.

It gets a little harder with the later books. After all, there are a few books that have the blue silhouette on the front cover but have orange silhouette endpapers. However, for the two types pictured above, it is easy.

Visit my Nancy Drew Formats Page to see what the books look like for the different types of endpapers.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

More eBay Changes Part III

Here is something even crazier—apparently eBay's international sellers must also ship books to the U.S. for less than $4.00. It is mentioned on this message thread. Now that is just plain crazy! International sellers who list on eBay.com will have to offer under $4.00 flat rate shipping to U.S. buyers and will have to add the additional postage cost to the opening bid. The loophole is that if international sellers list on their own eBay site, which will cause reduced visibility on eBay.com, then they can enter the correct shipping amount. This new flat rate shipping has to be the stupidest idea eBay has ever had, and they have had some really stupid ideas!

What is also frustrating about all of eBay's changes is that eBay favors certain sellers over all the rest, especially sellers who have hundreds of thousands of items. Earlier this year, eBay made a deal with Buy.com in which Buy.com gets to list their entire inventory on eBay. Buy.com's inventory has minimal descriptions and has flooded many searches, making them useless.

I want to remind people that they can get the Buy.com listings removed from their searches by using advanced search. You have to select "exclude" in the drop-down box under "from specific sellers" and then enter the user IDs of the sellers you wish to exclude. For Buy.com, you need to exclude "buy" and "primemediaking." While you're at it, you should also consider excluding "the-video-bin" and "no-frills-media." You need to save the search and then access it from the Saved Searches page so that you do not have to enter the sellers' names each time you want to search.

Buy.com currently has 804,825 listings on eBay, and 590,185 of them are in the Books category. At the moment, primemediaking is not being used, but I plan to keep it blocked just in case. I hate having my searches rendered useless by just one or two sellers.

It appears that Buy.com is receiving preferential treatment on eBay. As pointed out on eBay's message boards, Buy.com has ratings of 4.9, 4.9, 4.8, and 4.8 in the four DSR categories. I find it amazing that with such a high volume that they are able to maintain such high ratings, especially since many buyers leave lukewarm ratings. EBay has in the past been known to tamper with the feedback of the favored sellers, so it is possible that Buy.com's DSR ratings may not be accurate.

It is also quite probable that Buy.com is paying far less per item than small sellers do per item. Buy.com is getting a better deal and has better exposure.

For months, there has been speculation that eBay is trying to compete with Amazon.com by imitating Amazon.com. As additional changes have been made, eBay is drawing closer and closer to becoming another Amazon. If eBay succeeds in morphing into another Amazon, the site will probably implode on itself. There is a lot of chatter on eBay's message boards and on other places on the web. Here is one such message thread that succinctly states what the problem is:

http://www.powersellersunite.com/about21632.html

Another message thread had sellers rejoicing about what appeared to be a fee decrease until they realized what it really meant:

http://www.powersellersunite.com/about21542.html

This message thread addresses the PayPal issue and also mentions Buy.com's feedback:

http://www.powersellersunite.com/about21528.html

Something I forgot to mention in my previous messages is that eBay plans to raise their Final Value Fee in the Books category to a whopping 15%. Buyers can expect their sellers either to raise their prices as a result of all of the changes or to disappear completely from eBay.

It is only marginally worthwhile for me to list books below $15.00, although I do still list some $10.o0 books. With the new changes, I may have to switch to $20.00 and up books. There are times when buyers want to buy cheap books, but eBay's business model makes it nearly impossible to offer low-priced books.

As I have reflected further on these changes, I have realized that unscrupulous sellers will find loopholes in the new rules, so all it amounts to is harassment of good buyers and sellers. All we can do is wait to see how everything plays out and whether eBay is still viable after it is all over.

Monday, August 25, 2008

More eBay Changes Part II

I have more thoughts on what may eventually be known as eBay's debacle. EBay plans to block sellers who have an average DSR rating of 4.3, yet eBay tells buyers that a four is good. This is like when teachers tell their students that an 80% is good, except that instead of the teachers grading their students, administration does it. What administration does not tell the teachers and students is that they have decided that anything less than 86% is failing. How fair is that to the students? It isn't fair to the teachers, either, since the teachers would not purposely misinform their students about their grades. In eBay's world, the sellers are the students, and the buyers are the teachers. The buyers are rating the sellers on the misinformation provided by eBay.

4.3 out of five stars is an 86%—hardly a bad rating. Yet anything below an 86% is failing in eBay's world, so this is why buyers need to give their sellers five stars on all four DSRs. Have I mentioned how much I hate the DSRs? I even hate them as a buyer. I hate leaving them, but now I must force myself to do so in order for my sellers to continue to have the ability to sell.

When I stated that buyers should leave their sellers all fives or none at all, there are, of course, instances when a buyer should rate a seller poorly. If a seller messes up on a transaction and does not make it right, then that seller should receive less than five stars on the DSRs. I am still waiting to decide what DSRs I will leave the seller of my water-damaged book from August 8. I told the seller about the damage, and the seller replied by asking how much of a refund I wanted. She did not apologize, which is what most people would do! I suggested $5.00, since I feel that the damage lessened the value by that amount. It has been over a week, and I have heard nothing from the seller. I suspect that the seller is hoping I'll forget about it. I'm not going to contact the seller again, but if I do not hear back within another week, I'm going to give the seller low ratings on the first and fourth DSRs. The book did not arrive as described, and the seller charged around $2.00 above the postage costs. That $2.00 was not used on packaging supplies since the seller used a priority box with nothing inside the box except the book and no tape on the box. The seller wrote the address on a priority mail label supplied by the post office. If the seller had used the extra $2.00 on packing supplies, the book would not have been damaged.

Here are the required shipping rates that eBay booksellers must use on eBay beginning in October:

$4.00 for a single book, whether light or heavy
$6.00 for a lot of up to 5 books
$6.00 for a lot of 6 to 10 books
$8.00 for a lot of 11 to 50 books
$15.00 for a lot of 51 to 100 books
$20.00 for a lot of 101 to 500 books

The $4.00 charge is not bad, at least if a seller is selling a lightweight Grosset and Dunlap book. It is not going to bode well for sellers who sell heavy textbooks. The rest of the mandated charges get worse and worse as the number of books in the lot increases. There is no way it is going to cost only $20.00 for a lot of 500 books. Give me a break!

By the new rules, a complete set of 56 hardcover Nancy Drew books will have to be shipped for no more than $15.00. I always use two boxes to keep the weight down per box, and my costs are about $20.00 to $22.00. The disparity will be much higher for people who are selling heavier books.

From what I have read, there will be a workaround for the required shipping costs. Sellers who have costs higher than what eBay mandates will have to use the calculated shipping feature. All a seller has to do is enter a high enough weight in order to trigger the necessary shipping charge. EBay is shortsighted in that this loophole will allow the guilty sellers to continue to gouge their customers. All a seller will have to do is enter an outrageously high weight in order to charge a huge amount.

I am also concerned about having to use calculated shipping instead of flat rate shipping. Back months ago, eBay implied that sellers would have to use flat rate shipping in the future in order to get standard search exposure. It sounds like I am going to have to use eBay's flat shipping rates in order to get the standard search exposure, but then I will have to ship heavy lots at below cost. I will have to investigate this some more. I am a daily reader of eBay's message boards, which have a wealth of information.

Do you know how eBay came up with the required shipping rates for books? They asked buyers what they thought a reasonable rate was. EBay freely admits that the buyers' suggested shipping rates are below what the costs are for many sellers. Hey, even I think a book ought to be shipped for about $2.00, yet as I stated in my previous post, I know very well that a media mail package weighing between one and two pounds ships for a minimum of $2.58. Oh heck, a book ought to be shipped for free!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

More eBay Changes

Ever since eBay's new CEO took charge earlier this year, there have been radical changes to the site. The changes affect sellers far more heavily than they do buyers, yet buyers are affected indirectly as well. I am both a buyer and a seller, and I have been concerned whether eBay will remain a viable marketplace in the future. My concerns have increased even more after eBay announced on August 20 what the next changes will be.

Over a year ago, eBay changed feedback so that buyers could give their sellers a Detailed Seller Rating in four key areas. The four DSRs are:

How accurate was the item description?
How satisfied were you with the seller's communication?
How quickly did the seller ship the item?
How reasonable were the shipping and handling charges?

The third and four questions are just begging buyers to be hard on their sellers. Many buyers rate sellers poorly on the third question because of how long it can take for media mail delivery. The length of time required for media mail has nothing to do with the seller. Any seller that ships an item within a couple of days of payment should be rated highly.

Buyers tend to rate sellers poorly on the fourth DSR because of the postage costs. I feel like all packages are getting to be rather expensive after all of the postage increases of the last few years. I haven't forgotten that in 1997 I could mail a book that weighed up to two pounds for around $0.95. Media mail for a two pound package is now $2.58, and my packaging costs add over a dollar to that amount. Of course buyers are going to think that postage is too high, but that is not the seller's fault, unless the seller is someone who charges $5.00 to $10.00 over their costs.

What I have noticed is that my buyers are leaving me feedback with far less frequency than in the past, and nothing has changed in the way that I do business. I also notice that many of them do not leave the DSRs. I have noticed that I am more reluctant to leave feedback for my sellers because I hate having to click on the four DSRs. My buyers must feel the same way I do. Feedback used to be so easy. We could dash off a quick statement about the overall transaction and not worry about rating sellers in four different areas.

I would boycott the DSRs, except it is now more important than ever that buyers leave them and leave a five star rating. EBay is now using the DSRs to decide whether a seller deserves a 15% fee discount. Sellers must have an average DSR rating of 4.6 in all four areas in order to qualify. Sellers must have a high DSR rating in all four areas in order to receive standard search exposure in Best Match. Think about it—as a buyer you may not see all items because a seller does not quite have a high enough of an average DSR rating. Sometimes I have purchased hard to find items from dubious sellers. It was my decision to take a risk, but I knew that the risk would pay off in order to get a very hard to find item. What if those items are not visible in my search because eBay feels that the seller does not have a high enough rating? I should be able to see those items regardless of what eBay thinks.

The changes that were announced on August 20 are even more appalling. EBay now states that any seller whose average DSR ratings fall to 4.3 will be blocked from selling on eBay. The primary reason why this is so disturbing is that when buyers leave the DSRs, eBay states that a four is good. Someone who has an average rating of 4.3 has to be getting mostly fours and fives with a few lower ratings thrown in. Those lower ratings might be threes, which eBay states are neither good nor bad.

EBay tells buyers that the DSRs mean one thing and then interprets them in a different fashion. I think the DSRs are a good idea in theory, but eBay should be honest with buyers as to what a four means. EBay interprets a five as what a seller should receive, a four as below average, and all others as failing.

I want eBay to survive as a marketplace, and for now, I have no intention of leaving. It is the easiest place to sell books, and it is still my favorite as a buyer. In order to survive on eBay, we must all adapt to the new rules. It is counterproductive to give a good seller anything less than five stars on the DSR ratings. A five seems to indicate perfection, but it is the only rating that eBay sees as acceptable. In order to keep the good sellers on eBay, buyers must rate their sellers with all fives or not at all. A good seller deserves four stars, but eBay sees the four stars as bad, so a good seller needs to receive five stars.

I am now forcing myself to give all of my sellers five stars on all four DSRs even though I hate the DSRs so much that I want to ignore them. I want to leave them blank, but even that can hurt my sellers. Each seller must receive at least three DSRs during each month in order to have a chance at raised search exposure in Best Match. By not leaving the ratings at all, we risk causing good sellers to have reduced exposure. This affects those people who have a low volume the most. I am one of those people who sell large amounts during parts of the year, but for most of the year, I sell sporadically. At the moment, I have received no DSRs in the last 30 days because it appears that my buyers are no longer interested in leaving feedback. It is rather discouraging.

On top of all of this, eBay will begin mandating shipping charges for books in October. Why can't buyers decide for themselves whether a seller's charges are too high? Isn't that what the fourth DSR is supposed to do? Why is eBay now going to decide what we are supposed to charge? We don't all pack the same! EBay even admits that their required shipping charges will sometimes be below a seller's costs. I do not even have words to describe what I think about it. At least I have until October to figure out how I will adapt to the required shipping charges.

One last little thing—in October, PayPal will be the only payment method that sellers can accept. Sellers will be prohibited from accepting checks and money orders. This one does not bother me simply because I prefer to receive payment through PayPal, and as a buyer, I greatly prefer to pay through PayPal. It is upsetting a lot of sellers, though, and I have to wonder about those buyers who still prefer to pay by check and money order. What are they going to think?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #6

I have already stated that many buyers waste their time on pointless questions. Here is an example:

1945 HCDJ Nancy Drew Clue in the Crumbling Wall C Keene Item #260270692783
Question: Hello. Are there any glossy illustrations? Thanks!

Answer: No, there is only one illustration, and that is a full page one at the beginning of the book, but not glossy. Thanks Ken
Only volumes 1 through 17 were ever printed with any glossy illustrations. Volumes 1 through 13 are the ones that had four glossy illustrations in the very early printings. Volumes 14 through 17 had one glossy illustration in the early printings and no other illustrations. Also, visit my Nancy Drew Formats Page for this information.

I found a listing that could be adding to the confusion:

Old Attic NaNcy Drew Applewood First 1st Ed PerfecT Item #140256828944

The subtitle states that the book has "Terrific Glossies!" As seen in one of the seller's pictures, the book has a plain paper frontispiece illustration. I'm sure the comment about the glossies is just a mistake, but since it is there, some buyers may end up with the mistaken impression that volume 21 had glossy illustrations.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #5

I never correct sellers except in unusual situations. The main reason why I do not bother is because at least 50% of the time, the seller does not correct the listing. Whenever I have decided to correct a seller, I have done it politely. Being rude will accomplish nothing. Sometimes sellers have posted rude comments that they have received from buyers in the "Question and Answer" section of their listings, and I am embarrassed that other Nancy Drew collectors are conducting themselves in such a fashion. Even if you think a seller is an idiot or is lying to you, be polite. Educate them; do not ridicule them!

It is frustrating to see one seller after another think that because a book has one date on the copyright page that it is a first printing. For many other publishers, one date on the copyright page often does indicate the first printing. People are only taking what they know about other publishers and trying to apply that knowledge to the Grosset and Dunlap books. They are not trying to annoy us. I get annoyed all the time by it, but I am not going to be rude to all of the clueless sellers.

Did you know that older book price guides from several decades ago state that all Grosset and Dunlap books are reprints and that none of them have value. Imagine that! I have a collection of worthless books! Due to the statements in these older price guides, there are still a few booksellers who scorn all Grosset and Dunlap books and think that all of them are worthless. People who have this mindset will put little effort into their Grosset and Dunlap eBay listings.

A good example of this misinformation cropped up again in a recent thread on the eBay Bookseller's Board. Someone asked if their copy of The House on the Cliff was a first printing. It turned out that the book was the first printing, but an early response came from a bookseller who stated, "Absolutely not a first edition. Grosset & Dunlap was always a reprint house." That person was quickly corrected by other sellers.

This is going to surprise some of you, but there are a few respected series book collectors who deliberately mislead buyers about some of their books. They only do it some of the time, and when they do, they get away with it. Only someone like me will notice what they are doing. Just be aware that the sellers who appear to be deliberately misleading buyers are, in most cases, not the ones who are doing it on purpose. They just do not know what they are doing. They do not deserve the rude comments. At the same time, others are doing it on purpose and with great success.

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

25 NANCY DREW CAROLYN KEENE ORIGINAL BOOKS VINTAGE Item #360076237511

The seller states, "Dates are the Publication dates not the copyright dates which Im sure you knew already." Based on the general appearance of the list, I believe it was copied and pasted off of my website. I do not have a problem with people copying and pasting my lists for their auctions; I created them so that I could use them for my own auctions. I hope others do use them. It saves a lot of time.

Anyway, the seller uses the original copyright dates for the original text books. As I have already stated, certain books were never printed with the 25 chapter texts in the picture cover format, so a few of those dates cannot be right for this particular listing. Based on what the seller added to the description, someone was rather rude to the seller:
I am not able to break up the set as of Aug 8. Also, since a rather RUDE ebayer stated that I was ignorant or misreprenting the books. Let me clarify AGAIN. These are the Dates that the books were written not the dates they were bought. I explained in my description that I received them Brand new from my grandparents for various occasions I was born in 1961. Im not an expert on Antique books. I was just trying to state what I know . Im sure people bidding on them know what I was talking about. As you can see from the pictures these are the original series bought many years ago when I was between the ages of 9-12. Have a Great Week!!!
The seller does not understand, and whoever was rude to the seller did not solve the problems that the listing had. I do not know the story, but the same lot of books has appeared again twice shortly after the first one closed, and on another ID:

25 NANCY DREW ORIGINAL ANTIQUE CAROLYN KEENE BOOKS Item #260274212348

Once again, the seller states, "Dates are the Publication dates not the copyright dates." The seller does not realize that by stating that the dates are the publication dates, he or she is implying that the specific books offered for sale were printed in the years listed. I made an exception in this case and decided to contact the seller. This is what I sent:
You do need to change the copyright/publication dates on many of the books. I know you are using the original copyright date, probably found on a website, but if you look inside the books, many of them will have a different date than the one you list. The one that is actually inside the book on the copyright page is the one that needs to be in your listing. The reason why it is important is that Nancy Drew books with copyright dates of 1956 and before have 25 chapters, and the ones from after 1956 have 20 chapters. People need to know whether the books have the older or newer texts, so this is why you need the correct years. I can tell by looking at your books that #2 is the 1959 text, #8 is the 1968 text, etc. Check and you will see. I normally don't get involved in situations like this, but I noticed the other listing in which rude people were mentioned. I'm trying to save you some problems once more people see this listing. Good luck!
The seller did not reply to me but did add the actual copyrights to the item's description. It pays to politely explain why the information is important. I have now edited my Nancy Drew list on my website so that I have a list for the original text books and another list for the revised text books. Perhaps the change will help avoid situations like this.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #4

This auction has a strange question:

27 Nancy Drew Books!!! Must See!!! Item #230277459020

Nothing can be read on the spines of the books in the seller's pictures, but the books are obviously matte yellow spine Nancy Drew books. The following question and answer are posted in the listing:
Question: Hello, will you please tell me what the wording says on the spine of one of the books and also the author? Thanks. J.

Answer: The wording on the spines of all these books sas "Nancy Drew Mystery Stories" Grosset & Dunlap, written by Carolyn Keene. All these books are copyrighted late 60's early 70's. They are all yellow hardcovers and vintage. Thanks for your interest.
It sounds as though the potential buyer needed verification that the books are actually Nancy Drew books. They look like Nancy Drew books to me:


This strange question reminds me of a strange comment I received from a potential buyer from years ago. I had a Kay Tracey book up for sale. Someone contacted me through my auction and informed me that it was very hard for them to find the listing. They normally search for books by the author's name, and I did not state in my listing that the book was by Frances K. Judd. They only found my listing by doing something random that I do not recall.

Certainly, it is best to include the author's name for any book, but how many collectors of Kay Tracey books are going to search exclusively for Frances K. Judd? I don't get it. I normally search for the name of the series. This is how I find Nancy Drew books; I search for Nancy Drew. I do use other search variations such as the author's name or even the publisher's name to pull up more listings, but the most logical way to search for a series is by the series name. Now, if I were seeking books by Stephen King, I would search with the author's name. It would be less productive to use the individual book titles.

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Here is another example of a seller not answering buyer questions correctly:

46 VOLUMES NANCY DREW MYSTERIES - CAROLYN KEENE Item #250276995220
Question: Which books have the blue end papers?

Answer: They all have the multi scene blue end papers. Thanks for your interest. Good luck!
No, they don't. The seller makes it hard to know what is offered by listing what is not offered rather than what is offered, and by not including clear pictures. I am able to determine that all of #39 through #54 are in this listing. #39 through #54 were never printed with blue multi endpapers, not even in the first printings. This seller's books cannot all have blue multi endpapers.
Question: If possible can you send some clearer pictures? Also, just to make sure... These are the books published in the late 50's through the 60's. Correct.

Answer: These are the ones published in the 50's and 60's. Thanks for your interest. Good luck!
None of the books are from the 1950s since the picture cover books were not printed until 1962. #47 through #54 were originally published from 1970 through 1977, so those titles are not from the 1960s. #1-46 might be from the 1960s, but I cannot tell for certain whether all of them are since the seller's photos are not very clear.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #3

A good sleuth is observant, and buyers of Nancy Drew books need to be observant. By being observant, one can avoid having to ask sellers so many questions. Here is an example:

RARE NANCY DREW BOOK THE QUEST OF THE MISSING MAP 1942 Item #200242350619

I knew immediately by looking at the pictures that this is a tweed book and not anywhere near a first printing, but I'll get to that in a moment.
Question: Hello! Does the dust jacket front flap and the list of Nancy Drew titles in the book (usually before the title page) both list to the Missing Map? Thanks!

Answer: Hi, both places do list the quest of the missing map. Thank you for your interest. Evie
Based on what I can see in the photos, the seller's answer is definitely wrong. This is why it is best to use one's knowledge as much as possible and avoid asking the questions unless totally necessary. Due to the way the seller phrased the answer, she meant that Missing Map was included in the list. She didn't answer what the buyer meant for her to answer. She did not realize that the buyer was trying to figure out whether the book is a first printing.

This is why it is important to specifically ask what the very last title in the list is. Although even that is not foolproof; I once had a seller tell me that the last title was "Grosset and Dunlap" followed by "Publishers New York."

Do not ask the seller whether the list ends with a certain title, as the question may be misunderstood. I have noticed that a number of sellers will state something like this: "The front flap of the dust jacket lists Nancy Drew titles and Missing Map is 19th in the list." These sellers must think that there is a significance to the title appearing 19th in the list. There is, but only because Missing Map is volume 19. Missing Map is always going to be 19th in the list. The position of a particular title in the list does not help in determining the age of the book, so it is irrelevant information.

Next, someone else has a try at getting the correct information.
Question: Hi. Could you please tell me the last nancy drew title on the front inside of dust jacket, the number of dana girl books listed on the jacket, and the last nancy drew title on the book's internal list? 3 questions: thanks! Karen

Answer: last titlE is THE HAUNTED SHOWBOAT ON THE DUST JACKET - 15 DANA GIRL BOOKS AND THE LAST NANCY DREW TITLE ON THE INTERNAL LIST IS, THE CLUE OF THE VELVET MASK.
Now we learn that the dust jacket lists to Haunted Showboat. We now know that it is a tweed book from the late 1950s.

As I stated in the first place, I already knew from the pictures that it was a tweed book and would not have had to ask the questions in order to approximate the age of the book. How did I know?


The above picture is clue #1. Look along the bottom edge. The book looks like it has the approximate thickness of a book from the 1950s. It also looks tweed-like to me, not like the solid blue of the mid-1940s. I realize that many of you cannot discern what I can from the above picture, so look at the second picture.


This picture reveals the approximate age of the book without any doubt. Look at the front flap. The first part of many of the titles is visible. Count them by what can be seen. I can count 24 titles, and there are gaps where I cannot see the titles. It looks like the first few titles are not visible as well as two small groups of titles, probably around 10 total. Therefore, around 34 titles must be in the list. By the seller's second answer, it is actually 35 titles, so my approximation is quite good. This is why I already knew that the book is a tweed book from the middle to late 1950s. I also have seen enough Nancy Drew dust jackets to know what the font is like for the front flaps from the 1950s, so just seeing the first part of the titles told me the age. As I stated at the beginning of this message, it all has to do with being observant.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Nostalgia for Sweet Valley High

I have read comments from series book fans who are older than me who consider the Sweet Valley High series to be completely undesirable and with no redeeming qualities. I am certain that if I were older than I am, I would feel the same way. It just so happens that I was in the target audience for Sweet Valley High when the series was released in the early 1980s. The series meant a lot to me at a very awkward stage in my life. I was never popular, and I never fit in. My friends were my books. For that reason, Sweet Valley High gave me what I never had. When I read the books, I was able to be a popular student at Sweet Valley High. It was a lot of fun!

I like to search the web for links that lead to my site because I get to read other people's comments about various series books. By finding sites that link to mine, I can read comments from people with whom I would never normally connect. In one such search a few days ago, I found a blog in which someone wrote about Sweet Valley High. The blog is called Idiom Syncrasies, and here are the writer's comments about Sweet Valley High:
We young fans of SVH were in puberty, way over-emotional, and totally unsure of ourselves. We were really starting to be immersed in the flashy, gluttonous, mercenary vibe of 1980s America. All of our parents were getting divorced. Compound that with the trials of being chubby and awkward in middle school or junior high school and the usual young girls' whim of yearning to be someone you weren't, and there you have a target demographic...and there I was, raising my hand and begging for more, more, more!

I do not expect people who weren't pre-teen girls in the flashy 1980s to understand the obsession with the Sweet Valley High series. But any girl who was born in America in the early-to-mid 70s would understand the sugar-sweet "coolness" that these books provided from 1983 to 1990. God, but I loved them, and collected them long after the obsession had cooled.
I found a review of the series from a UK website, and a reader made this comment in regards to my Sweet Valley High remarks on my website:
Here, a devotee explains why she loves these books - reasons I wouldn't like them - however, she is honest in her portrayal of the appeal . . .
What I think others are failing to understand is that my interest in Sweet Valley High is only because of the nostalgia factor. I normally would not like a series like Sweet Valley, either. It is just that the series came at the perfect time in my life; people think differently when they are young preteens. I never read the Girls of Canby High series, which was a rival series to Sweet Valley High. I have picked up a few of the Canby High books here and there, and I read one of them a few years ago. It was okay, but I didn't get much out of it. They are not the type of books that I really like. Sweet Valley High is also not really my type. I am certain that if I had never read Sweet Valley High in the first place that I would never have ever read one of them. I only own the ones that I have because I read them at that certain time in my life.

Those books gave me something that I needed so desperately. Since the books were so important to me, I have never gotten rid of them. I am only interested in the titles from within the range of books that I read in the mid-1980s, up to about volume 35. I dearly love those books, and I have no interest in what came later, as those books do not represent my Sweet Valley. Does that sound familiar, perhaps, to those of you who read Nancy Drew in the original text books? Isn't that the way you feel about Nancy Drew? Since the later Sweet Valley High books are not like the ones I read, I do not own them and have no interest in them.

I am sure that many Sweet Valley High enthusiasts have trouble understanding what I mean, just like I used to have trouble understanding why many Nancy Drew fans only like the original text books. I now understand completely, since I find myself in the same position with respect to another series.

The nostalgia factor is very important, and it plays an important role in which books we like the best. It is no accident that Nancy Drew #21 and #23 are my two least favorite books from the original 56 Nancy Drew books, and #56 is a close third on that list. #21 and #23 were the only two titles which I did not own as a child. I read #23 one time when I checked it out from the library. I never read #21 as a child. The other titles, #1-20, 22, and 24-55 were all read multiple times when I was a child. No wonder I love them so much! I only read partway through #56 as a child. It was about the last one purchased for me, and I was losing interest at that stage. As a result, #56 is also not one that I like as well as the others.

Around the time that I began to quit reading the Sweet Valley High books, Christopher Pike was just becoming a popular author of young adult thrillers. There were just a few of his books published at the time that I read Last Act, and for several years, I eagerly awaited each of his new novels. Those early Christopher Pike books also hold a special place in my heart.

Are there any other series book enthusiasts reading this blog who are my age or younger who read Sweet Valley High or Christopher Pike?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #2

I am going to use the questions and answers posted from a few listings to show what I mean by the rampant buyer confusion. What I see in these listings happens all the time. I am concerned because the buyers are having trouble understanding what they need to know in order to make educated decisions in buying older Nancy Drew books.

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories Set of 53 Item #330256877284

The seller states that it is a set of 53 and that volume 23 is missing. The seller should come out and state exactly which books are included, as the picture does not allow for us to read the titles. By the information given, it appears that the listing contains contains #1-22 and #24-54 for a total of 53 books.
Question: please let me know the number of chapters in each of these books. thanks

Answer: Books with 20 Chapters are 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,11,35 thru 53 and the rest have 25 Chapters. I hope this helps.
Personally, I think this would give the needed information, but apparently not, since a later question confirms lingering confusion. The problem may indeed be the seller's lack of information in the original description. I mean—it is really hard to know which books one is getting when they are not listed in the description.
Question: Hi, I just want to confirm that only 8 books have 20 chapters. Is that correct? Thanks,

Answer: No, that is not correct. There are 25 books with 20 Chapters and 27 books with 25 Chapters, Number 23 is not in the set. This makes a total of 52 books.
Ah, so now we know that there are only 52 books instead of 53 books. Anyway, if only volumes 1-34 were ever printed with 25 chapters, why would a buyer think that only 8 of the books have 20 chapters? I am bewildered. Apparently this person is under the impression that around 45 books were printed with the 25 chapters, unless this person thinks that the listing contains a bunch of duplicates.
Question: Do the books with 25 chapters have blue & white end pages?

Answer: Yes they do, both front and back.
Here is another piece of information that may be helpful for people buying the picture cover editions: All of the original text picture covers have the blue and white endpapers. There is no reason to ask. Understand, though, that some of the revised text picture covers also have the blue and white endpapers. The blue and white endpapers do not prove that the book has the original text, so this is not a relevant piece of information, unless one wants the earlier picture cover printings with the blue and white endpapers.

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Vintage Nancy Drew Lot of 18 TWEED Hardcover Books Item #300242077162

This listing has a question that in part states, "And is the Haunted Showboat book you have actually considered a blue cover book, because it looks like a newer version?" This person apparently does not know what the dust jackets look like for the tweed books, which is why they think it looks like a newer book.

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VTG Huge Lot of 28 Nancy Drew Books Carolyn Keene Nice Item #230271280802

I am mentioning this one so that I can give a tip for buyers that would avoid them having to ask a question. The seller's description gives the volume numbers as follows:
3 books were copyrite : 1957 number9535---1959 book club editionOld clock---1959 Hidden Staircase book club edition

1960's copyrite 9508- 9516 -9519 -9545-9546-9511-9544-9504-9505-9507-9506

1970's copyrite 9556-4-9552-9513-9512-9518-9517-9549-9534-9555-9551-9514-9515-9550-9552-
Here is the question and answer:
Question: these are usually numbered differently than you have indicated... the first book in the series was #1 and so on... can you list that version of the numbers? Thanks! Don

Answer: OK--Thankyou for your question. I looked at all of the books and found the following numbers----53 50 15 14 55 17 56 52 51 18 12 13 35 8 16 19 45 46 11 44 8 4 57 6 49 34 3 2 1 --------Hope that helps. Sorry for giving different numbers
It is frustrating that the seller gave the publisher's catalog number for each book and gave them in a random order. The seller also gave the volume numbers in random order. My tip for buyers is that the catalog numbers correspond to the the volume numbers. Catalog number 9501 is #1 Old Clock; number 9502 is #2 Hidden Staircase; number 9503 is #3 Bungalow Mystery; and so on. The last two digits of the catalog number give the volume number. If you ever see a seller do this again, you can decipher which volumes are included by looking at the last two digits of the catalog number.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #1

Despite several online resources, I have noticed an increasing number of buyers who are struggling with the concept of how to tell whether a Nancy Drew book has the original text. I have also noticed quite a bit of confusion about which books were first published with the 25 chapter text. I had a buyer ask me whether a 1972A-1 first printing of The Secret of Mirror Bay had 25 chapters. Quite frankly, the question astounded me. If I am selling the true first printing of a Nancy Drew book and have given the Farah's Guide information to back my claim, why would someone ask how many chapters the book has? Why would it matter? Wouldn't the first printing have the original text?

I still don't get that question, but apparently many buyers are reading online guides and not quite understanding. This is frustrating to me, as I can see that many buyers are wasting time on pointless questions. I hate asking sellers questions, since so often my questions are either not answered or are answered incorrectly. This is why it is necessary to self-educate oneself about the books as much as possible in order to avoid unnecessary questions.

Only the first 34 Nancy Drew books ever had the 25 chapter texts. It is totally pointless to ask a seller how many chapters #35-56 have. #35-56 were originally published with 20 chapter texts, and those texts were never revised—not one bit. The current "flashlight" edition Nancy Drew books for #35-56 still have the same unrevised 20 chapter texts as the first printings of those books.

A big problem with asking sellers questions is that many people selling Nancy Drew books know even less about the books than the average newbie Nancy Drew collector. I have seen questions posted in which a buyer asks the seller whether the book is the first printing, and the seller replies that it is. Unfortunately, I can tell by looking at the seller's book that the book is not anywhere close to the first! This is an example of a bidder trusting that the seller actually knows anything about the books.

I believe that the rampant confusion among new buyers is the likely reason that the Applewood editions have exploded in value, aside from the possible hoarding. On one of my older posts about the Applewood editions, someone posted a comment that stated that the Applewoods are appealing because it is an easy way to know that the book is the original text. The drawback to this method is that it only works for the 21 titles which were reprinted by Applewood. Buyers are still going to have to self-educate themselves about #22-34.

To go back to #1-34, how does one know whether the book has the original text? One can always ask the seller how many chapters the book has. The book has the original text provided that the answer is 25 chapters. If I were trying to build a set of original text Nancy Drew books, I would get tired of having to ask everybody the number of chapters.

There is another way. I can actually tell by the outside of the book in nearly all cases, but I realize that new collectors may be too overwhelmed to go by appearance. However, if a new collector can become familiar with what books of a certain age look like, then they can go by appearance for some of the books, and it saves them the bother of asking the seller how many chapters the book has.

Take the books published from 1930 through 1951. These books all have the original text with no exceptions whatsoever. Visit my Nancy Drew Formats page to see what the books look like during this span of years. Therefore, any book that looks like the 1930 through 1951 books must have the original text.

The next format is the tweed books with digger or blue multi endpapers. For #1-34, all of the tweed books have the original text for the digger endpapers. There are a few printings from around 1960 with blue multi endpapers for which #1-4 and #6 have the revised 20 chapter text, so these are the only volumes for which a collector has to be careful. For #5 and #7-34, all blue and all tweed books have the original text. For anyone who knows this fact, it is not necessary to ask sellers about any of those books in order to determine whether the book has the original text.

For the picture cover editions from the 1960s and 1970s, one might think that it is possible to get all of #1-34 in the 25 chapter texts. However, since #1-4 and #6 had already been revised down to 20 chapters before the switch to the picture cover format, these books are not available in the picture cover format with the original 25 chapter text. #7 is available, but it is quite scarce as it went through only one printing in the picture cover format with the original 25 chapter text. Therefore, one can only expect to find #5 and #8-34 relatively easily in the picture cover format with the 25 chapter texts.

The glossy illustrations also seem to cause some buyers confusion. I have had people ask me whether a tweed book that is from the 1950s has glossy internal illustrations. The only books that ever had glossy internal illustrations are the very early thick blue Nancy Drew books that were printed from 1930 through 1937. Visit my Nancy Drew Formats page to see what the books look like that were printed from 1930 through 1937. It was after I had several questions about whether tweed books have glossy illustrations that I changed the color of the font on my formats page to make the information about the glossy illustrations stand out.

Additionally, only the first 13 titles had all four glossy illustrations. I have sold early copies of #14-17 and have stated that the books have a glossy frontispiece. Quite often, buyers have asked me to check #14-17 to see whether there are any additional illustrations scattered throughout the text. #14-17 never had the three additional illustrations, so these buyers are wasting their time looking for something that does not exist. As a result, I now try to always state that the book has a "glossy frontispiece illustration and no additional illustrations" just to save them the trouble of asking. Of course, if the buyers still think that #14-17 exist with all four illustrations, they will avoid buying my books, thinking they are not desirable. I can't do anything about that.

It is because of common misconceptions that earlier, more desirable books may sell for well below value while the Applewood editions continue to sell well above value.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Final Thoughts on the Girl Scouts Series

I just finished reading the last book in the series. I read through this series rather rapidly, which indicates that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I cannot recall exactly what prompted me to begin building my set of books three years ago. I must have read somewhere that the series was good, or perhaps the first one or two books sort of fell into my hands. What I do recall is that after I had a just a few of the Girl Scouts books in my possession, I was able to purchase the complete set of three Mary Louise Gay books, also written by Lavell. I read the Mary Lou books and loved them, so I decided to try much harder to complete the set of Girl Scouts books. I knew that if I liked the Mary Lou books that I would also like Lavell's other books. Now if I could just get that one Linda Carlton book that I need . . .

The Girl Scouts series spans nine years of Marjorie Wilkinson's life. During the first book, she is a freshman in high school. The last book ends at the beginning of fall, slightly more than one year after Marjorie's college graduation. Near the end of the last book, Marjorie's age is given as 23.

The end of the series was planned ahead of time. I will not spoil what happens, but the series has a definite end to it. All the loose ends are tied up, and we can expect Marjorie to live happily ever after.

The first few books in the series are a bit slow paced, but volumes five through ten are paced about the same as most series books. As far as I know, the Girls Scouts series books were the first books written by Edith Lavell, and her ability as a writer improved as she wrote additional titles. The first four books are good to very good, and the last six books are excellent.

As I read the last few books in the series, I began to wonder how much of the books are autobiographical. Edith Lavell was a Girl Scouts Director in Philadelphia, and in the last book, Marjorie is an Assistant Girl Scouts Director somewhere in the general area of Philadelphia. I wonder how many of the petty, jealous people who appear in the last book were based on people Lavell knew. I wonder whether Ruth Henry was based on someone Lavell knew. I wonder whether Marjorie's personality was anything like Lavell's or whether Lavell based Marjorie on someone she admired.

Something that stood out about these books is that they contain a large number of typos. There are many cases in which the leading letter is missing from a word, and many cases of letters transposed within words. In one of my previous posts on this series, I commented that a sentence in a passage that I quoted was worded rather oddly. On page 168 of The Girl Scouts' Director, "intimacy" is spelled as "intamacy," so there are even spelling errors. I did not keep count of all of the mistakes, but I do believe that I saw more mistakes in these books than I ever have in a juvenile series.

On one of my dust jackets, the book's title is crooked on the spine! Also, these books have cheap dust jackets that have nothing printed on the front and back flaps. None of the books have a table of contents! I always love looking at the table of contents as I read a book just to get a hint of what might happen later. I missed it very much with these books. From the crooked title to the spelling errors to the missing table of contents, I get the idea that the A. L. Burt Company must have been very slipshod during the 1920s. The A. L. Burt books from the 1930s seem to be of higher quality than these books.

I have created the Girl Scouts series section of my website:

http://www.series-books.com/edithlavell/girlscouts.html

I created a book and dust jacket gallery to show all of the variations that I have:

http://www.series-books.com/edithlavell/coverart.html

On the above page, I mention the yellow spine dust jackets from the 1930s. On the front flap of the one dust jacket that I have, I noticed that only volumes 3, 4, 5, and 6 are listed. I am thinking that possibly only volumes 3, 4, 5, and 6 were reprinted during the 1930s. This may in part explain why volume 3 seems to be the easiest to find title. Volume 1 seems to be about as difficult to find as the last few volumes. It may be that the middle volumes in this series did go through the most printings.

If anybody wonders why I often do not show the spines of the dust jackets in my dust jacket galleries, it is because the spines of my dust jackets have serious problems. I always edit out the flaws in dust jackets before posting them to my site, unless the flaws are too significant. Usually, it is not worth my time to try to edit out the flaws in the spines as the flaws typically consist of heavy soiling and significant chipping to the lettering on the spines. As you will no doubt notice from my Lavell Girl Scouts dust jacket gallery, even the front panels of my dust jackets have serious problems. Some of them are faded, and two of them are have moderate chipping.

In closing, I highly recommend the Girl Scouts series by Edith Lavell. I knew that I would enjoy the books, but I found that I enjoyed them even more than I had originally expected. I enjoyed the books so much that I have the same feeling that I had after I read the Betty Gordon books. It is sort of a let down feeling, and it will be hard to get into another series.

Friday, August 8, 2008

eBay Selling Tips #1

I have received two damaged packages in the last week. The first one was a smashed box that did not result in damage to the books. This box was smashed to the point that the corner had popped open. It would not have smashed had the seller actually placed some packaging material inside the box with the books.

The second damaged package arrived today. It consisted of a small priority box (the video size) and was smashed flat to the thickness of the book. This one also had no packaging material inside the box with the book. The end was not popped open to the extent of the previous package, but the inside was partially exposed to the elements. The end that was partially popped open was also, unfortunately, wet. The book was also wet. I should say that the book is still wet as I type this.

Wet books are never the same. Water damage cannot be undone. The pages are now wavy at the end of the book that was exposed to the water. The cover is still wet, but there is a chance it might dry okay. I won't know until later. I have contacted the seller but have not heard back. Since I did not pay for insurance, the seller is likely to state that it is my fault (this is what many sellers think, sad to say). The lack of proper packaging has nothing to do with insurance, and insurance does not prevent damage. Most buyers want undamaged merchandise (wait—I bet all buyers want undamaged merchandise), and it is the seller's responsibility to package the books so that damage is unlikely.

Always wrap books in plastic before mailing
. Had the book been wrapped in plastic, the water would not have reached the book. All that is necessary is plastic wrap, which most people have in their kitchens and can be purchased inexpensively at many stores. Ziploc storage bags can also be used. While I dislike receiving books that are wrapped in Wal-Mart and other bags (I never know where the bag has been), even Wal-Mart bags are far better than nothing. I use stretch wrap, as I find it much easier to wrap around the books, and it sticks better. It costs $6.00 to $10.00 per roll, so it is more expensive. It serves my purpose quite well.

The book would also have been less likely to have been damaged had the seller placed tape on the seams of the box. With a little tape, the end would not have popped open. The tape would also have been a barrier for the water. Additionally, if just a little packaging material had been placed inside the box, the box would not have smashed as flat as it did. The packaging material would also have served as a barrier for the water. Either of these steps would have made it harder for the water to reach as far inside the package.

I have mailed out thousands of packages. I have had no packages go missing, and only one book reported as damaged. For the one damaged book, the buyer told me that the box had been folded almost in half. The buyer stated that I could not have prevented what happened as it was catastrophic. The box probably got run over or something.

I have had one instance in which a buyer profusely thanked me for wrapping the book in plastic. The buyer stated that the package had arrived in a downpour and that the postal carrier had left the package on the step in the rain. The box was soaked, but the book was fine because of the plastic.

Fortunately, my other three packages were not wet today, especially since one of the dry packages was a $300.00 transaction containing first printing Nancy Drew books. The damaged book was a $15.00 purchase, so at least I can be thankful for that. By the way, the books of the $300.00 transaction were also not wrapped in plastic, although the packaging job was marginally better than the damaged package. If the $300.00 books had been damaged, I would be throwing a screaming fit right now and cussing!

Also, of the other two dry packages, only one of them had plastic. Therefore, if all four of today's packages had gotten wet, three of the four packages would have had damaged books. It was not raining, so probably something was spilled on the one wet package. Accidents do happen, so wrap your books in plastic!

7:25 PM update: The book is still wet! I now have it propped open in front of a fan.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Scarcity of Lavell and Other Series Books

As I mentioned in a previous post, it took me around three years to build the complete set of the Girls Scouts books by Edith Lavell in hardcover with dust jacket. I restricted my purchases to books with dust jackets, or I would likely have had the complete set sooner. When I bought my Lavell Girl Scouts books, I bought them solely because of the dust jackets, so I paid no attention to the books themselves. In the past week, I began scanning the dust jackets for my site. For the first time, I took a good look at the books. I was surprised when I realized how many variations there are in the books. There are four different scenes pictured on the front covers of the books that I have, and I also have five different colors of bindings.

One could even have fun trying to collect all of the different binding variations for this series. I have no idea whether all titles are available with each of the different illustrations on the cover or whether all titles are available in all of the different colors of binding. These books are so hard to find that I doubt that I will ever know, nor do I plan to buy additional books unless I upgrade a dust jacket. Several of my dust jackets are quite tattered. Even though I restricted my purchases to books with dust jackets, I had to settle for tattered dust jackets.

The Lavell books are very hard to find. There are very few people who want the books; yet, there are not enough books for even the few people who want them. I have an extra dust jacket for one of the Lavell Girl Scouts books; in fact, it is for #1 in the series. It was purchased in with a lot that contained a number of various juvenile series dust jackets that had long since been removed from the books. I want to purchase the book to mate with the dust jacket so that I can sell it. I'm going to have more luck selling the dust jacket if it is actually on a book and can get a little more for it. I have been checking the listings for several months, and I still cannot find a book to mate with the dust jacket. I thought it would be easy just to get the bare book for the dust jacket, especially for #1 in the series!

It is because of my experience in collecting series books such as the ones by Edith Lavell that I scoff at all of the listings in which sellers claim that their books are rare. I have already stated that the only rare Nancy Drew book is the very first book in the very first printing with the intact dust jacket. It is laughable how many sellers label their Nancy Drew books as RARE. There is no comparison between the more scarce Nancy Drew books and truly scarce books like these early series books.

Let's take a Nancy Drew book that is scarce like the 1932 text picture cover of The Clue in the Diary, which went through only one printing. Normally, it sells for around $40.00 or so. It does come up for sale at least every month or so. One sold in a listing within the last two weeks. It is scarce because many people want it. Books are considered scarce when the supply is less than the demand. However, the 1932 text PC of Diary is not rare as most sellers claim because it does consistently come up for sale.

I have a few Kingsport Press file copies of Nancy Drew picture cover books from the 1960s and 1970s. The file copies indicate that 10,000 copies were bound in a single print run. We do not know for certain how many copies of the 1932 text PC of Diary were bound, but it was likely the standard 10,000. Many of the original copies did not survive, but it is likely that there are at least several thousand of them still in existence. Considering this information, does the book sound that rare? It isn't. With a little sleuthing it can be found on eBay and for under $20.00. I have done it . . . more than once. It has to do with being observant, which I will be discussing in several future posts.

Certain Nancy Drew books such as the 1932 text PC of Diary are only scarce because there are so many Nancy Drew collectors. Most Nancy Drew books are quite abundant; the problem is that the number of people who want them is also abundant. There may be thousands of the previously mentioned book, but there are potentially thousands of people who also want it.

Sellers who misuse the word RARE to describe many or all of their books are doing everyone a disservice. For the past week, I have struggled with whether I should bid on a certain book. I finally decided not to bid, and the listing did not sell. The seller described the book as RARE and as a first edition. Needless to say, RARE was in the usual capital letters. That book has sold without a jacket in the last few weeks; additionally, it is not even the first printing. That seller, along with several others, has an obnoxious habit of describing a large percentage of his or her books as RARE. I am so put off by the misuse of the word RARE that I decided not to purchase that particular book. It will come up for sale again in the very near future. I can wait.

I do not believe that it is worth the risk of offending some buyers in order to capitalize on the naivety of new buyers. Yes, using the word RARE will get newbie bidders to bid larger amounts. What if later those buyers figure out that the books are not RARE? What about people like me who decide not to bid because the word offends us? Is it worth it?

My current policy is that I will not use RARE to describe any book, and I will no longer use scarce. Scarce takes up too many characters in the title; besides, if the book is scarce, aren't bidders going to realize it? All sellers need to do is provide clear pictures showing the entire outside of the book and describe the characteristics of the book. Is that too difficult?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Girl Scouts' Vacation Adventure

The seventh book in the Girl Scouts series by Edith Lavell, The Girl Scouts' Vacation Adventure, also has a real mystery, and this one is better than the one from the sixth book. The Girl Scouts open a tea room in Philadelphia. The proceeds are to go to a needy woman who is sick and has a baby. The house in which the tea room is located is said to be haunted. Three previous owners all died in rapid succession within a short period of time.

Soon after the tea room is opened, the cook disappears. She turns up again, apparently the victim of an abduction—or something. During the woman's ordeal, she wakes up to hear someone warn her to tell the Girl Scouts to leave the house. Who is responsible? This is a mystery, indeed! It is a very good mystery, as most series books are highly predictable. This one surprised me a little. I did not quite expect one part of the solution.

In this book, the public reaction to a haunted house is more accurate than usually portrayed in series books. In the average series book, when the public learns of a haunted house, everyone stays away and is tremendously fearful. In this book, when the newspapers publish the story of the abduction along with the history of the house, the girls' business dramatically increases, as indicated on page 141:
The wide publicity given by the newspapers had produced the same results as an expensive advertising campaign; indeed, the girls were now making money so fast that Marjorie found herself in a position to pay back a hundred dollars of the loan to Mr. Andrews.
The publicity does hurt the tea room in one fashion. The girls need more help, but when the ads are answered, the applicants decide that they do not want to work in a haunted house.

I was gratified that the ghost stories did not scare off every member of the community as is usually the case in series books.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Marjorie Wilkinson and Nancy Drew

As I have read the books in the Girl Scouts series by Edith Lavell, I have realized that Marjorie Wilkinson has many of the same qualities as Nancy Drew. First of all, Marjorie and Nancy have completely different primary interests; yet, their secondary interest is exactly the same. Nancy's primary interest is solving mysteries while Marjorie's is the Girl Scouts. Marjorie's secondary interest is in performing good deeds for needy people, and Nancy often does this as a result of solving mysteries.

The relationship between Marjorie and her boyfriend, John Hadley, is much like Nancy's relationship with Ned Nickerson. Both girls care about their boyfriends, yet their boyfriends are not what is the most important. Nancy likes Ned, but she is more concerned about her mysteries. Ned is important as someone who can help Nancy out of a jam. He is no more than a plot device, and Nancy is not interested in making any further commitment to him. On page 37 of the original text of The Clue in the Old Album, Nancy cuts Ned off as he begins to say something about the future:
"Not I," laughed Ned. "My future is pretty well set and I don't want any gypsy tampering with it. I'll go into business, prosper, and marry a certain golden-haired young lady named . . ."

"Come on Ned," Nancy broke in. "I'm not so much interested in fortunes myself, but I do want to hear that violinist play. A case I'm interested in has something to do with a gypsy violinist."
Talk about the brush-off! Nancy is so intent on her mystery that she doesn't seem to hear what Ned is saying. Marjorie is the same way with her boyfriend, John Hadley. In this passage from page 39 in The Girls Scouts on the Ranch, Marjorie is indifferent to how John feels:
John regarded her intently, wishing that he might believe that she was as keenly disappointed as he was because they were not to be able to spend the vacation together. But no; she certainly did not appear heart-broken.

"You're not sorry, though," he said, somewhat bitterly. "The whole thing suits you exactly."

"It would be a lie to say it didn't," laughed Marjorie, good-naturedly. "You know how I adore that sort of thing."

"Marjorie," he pursued, "do you think that—that—" he hesitated, as if he did not know how to put his thought—"that sports, and Girl Scouts, and things like that, will always come first with you?"
Marjorie's indifference to men is also referenced on page 147 in The Girl Scouts on the Ranch:
"There's another point we have in common," remarked Kirk Smith, who had been riding behind Marjorie.

"Another?" repeated the girl, unaware that she had anything in common with this strange young man.

"Yes, you seem to share my desire in trying to avoid the members of the opposite sex."

Marjorie laughed.

"I don't try to avoid anybody," she said. "But I also don't run after anybody."

"A very good rule," observed the young man, approvingly.
Marjorie is not purposely aloof. She is very involved in many activities, which causes her to have little time for frivolity. She pays little attention to the opposite sex because she is kept busy with the Girl Scouts and trying to help others. Marjorie also pays little attention to other girls who might try to win her favor. In the first book in the series, The Girl Scouts at Miss Allen's School, Marjorie receives an invitation into the exclusive sorority because of her aloofness. The sorority girls decide to choose the one girl who is not trying to gain the approval of the sorority, as though they want to conquer the one girl who is unreachable.

Marjorie is loved by all of the other girls as sort of an ideal. On page 62 of The Girl Scouts' Rivals, Marjorie is described as follows:
The girls admired their leader tremendously; she was the most popular, the most respected girl in the troop.
Marjorie is exactly what Nancy Drew would be if she were a Girl Scout.

Monday, August 4, 2008

An Important Message about the Judy Bolton Reprints

The new Applewood reprint of The Phantom Friend is missing the sheet that contains pages 170 and 171. For anybody who is concerned, to this date, no one has noticed anything wrong with any of the other books. Applewood is going to replace the defective Phantom Friend books free of charge. Phil Zuckerman, President of Applewood Books, gave directions for the return of the defective books in a message posted today to the Judy Bolton Fans Group:
Immediately, I wanted to let you know our plans concerning the missing pages in The Phantom Friend. As of this morning (8/4/08), we have stopped shipping copies of this book (250 copies have been shipped). Lindsay Stroh has kindly volunteered to re-lend us the original book from which we scanned the text. We should receive the book tomorrow. We will scan the missing pages, process them, insert them into the text, and designate the new edition "Second Printing." We will then begin manufacturing the new edition. The whole process should take two weeks. Anyone who purchased the first printing may return the book for replacement and receive a free copy of any other book in the series. Please return books to: Applewood Books, Attn: Sue Cabezas, 1 River Road, Carlisle, MA 01741. Please add a note with the returned book letting us know your name, address, location of purchase, and which additional book you would like. Any book currently not available, will be backordered and sent when it becomes available.
Phil Zuckerman also explained that the mistake was caused by the scanning process somehow skipping the two affected pages and that Applewood will make certain that this type of mistake does not happen with any of the books that have not yet been released.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Nice Series Book Site

The University of Maryland has a section about series books on their website:

Girls' Series Books Rediscovered


Click on the exhibition link, and a list of links will appear along the right side. There is a lot of interesting information presented there. In particular, look at the exhibition photographs. That is one nice exhibit! Check it out!

Note: Months after I posted these links, I looked at this post again. The website had moved the pages, so the links were broken. I have fixed them. If the links should become broken again, search on Google for University of Maryland's Girls' Series Books Rediscovered.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Girl Scouts on the Ranch

I had commented that the first few books in the Girl Scouts series by Edith Lavell have a slower pace than later series books. As I have continued reading these books, the pace has gradually become faster. In the fourth and fifth books, the amount of time for storytelling greatly decreases.

At the beginning of The Girl Scouts on the Ranch, Marjorie, Lily, and most of their closest friends from the Pansy troop graduate from Miss Allen's school. I sense that the series is going off in a new direction, not just because the girls are no longer at Miss Allen's school.

Ruth Henry appears to have exited the series. However, I have not forgotten how the villain in the Blythe Girls series, Rex Pepper, made recurring appearances. He would always show up again when least expected, so the possibility of Ruth returning cannot be ruled out. I enjoyed Ruth's escapades, so I would welcome her return.

Now that the conflict between Ruth and Marjorie is apparently over, the books must move in a new direction. It looks like for the first time the series has a mystery—not some vague minor mystery but a real mystery. One of the Scouts, a girl named Daisy Gravers, has an older sister who is missing. She was sick at the time she disappeared, and the girls speculate that she could have amnesia. Somehow I expect that the missing girl will shortly appear under a different name......series books are always so predictable. Even though it is a real mystery, it will be resolved easily.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Judy Bolton Formats

I have updated my Judy Bolton Formats page to show the 1946 red book with burgundy print and burgundy staircase endpapers as well as all of the reprints from the last 30 years.

It was quite a few years ago when I briefly had one of the red books with burgundy staircase endpapers. Since I could not remember what the outside of the book looked like, I did not know how to look for another at the time that I created my formats page. Ever since one was brought to my attention recently, I have made a point of watching the Judy Bolton listings for them.

I have so far seen #1, 6, 8, 9, 14, 16, and 17 in this format. This is just in the last few weeks. Since I have already noticed seven titles in such a short period of time, I feel that it is likely that all of the first 17 titles were printed in this format.

I have already seen two examples of #17 in this format. The more recent case has the seller stating that it is a RARE first edition. Since the seller's book is the second example I have seen in just a few weeks, it is not RARE. It is also not the first printing. The first printing of Rainbow Riddle is a green book with pink staircase endpapers. The second printing of Rainbow Riddle is a red book with blue staircase endpapers. Now that I know about this new format, I can state that the third printing of Rainbow Riddle is a red book with burgundy staircase endpapers. So, there are three printings of Rainbow Riddle that appear to be the first printing, but only the green book is the true first printing.