Saturday, February 28, 2009

Book Sale Report Part IV

I wrote the three previous parts of my book sale report on Saturday and Sunday right after the sale, but I am finally beginning to go through the books I bought, so this post is an addendum to my story.

I picked up the Nancy Drew $1 box editions of Bungalow Mystery, Lilac Inn, and Fire Dragon. All three are in worse condition than the ones I already had, so they will be sold.

I picked up the $1 box editions of Hardy Boys Missing Chums and Chinese Junk. Chinese Junk is in rough shape, so it is not worth much. Missing Chums is in nice shape. I found this auction for Missing Chums with the $1 box:

1962 RARE $1 DOLLAR BOX HARDY BOYS BOOKS Vintage GIFTS Item #230319637435

The book sold for $52.01 with free shipping. The book I bought at the booksale is in nicer shape than the one from the auction. I already have a copy of Missing Chums with the $1 box, so I have one to sell. I will have to decide how to price it. In general, Hardy Boys collectors seem to pay more for special printings than Nancy Drew collectors do. The Nancy Drew $1 box editions do not usually sell for more than $20.00.

As previously mentioned, I bought Nancy Drew Whistling Bagpipes with the tri-fold ad, and I also bought Nancy Drew Larkspur Lane with a nice dust jacket with the blue spine symbol listing to #18 on the front flap. This is a desirable printing as the book is thick and the jacket has the blue spine symbol. In order to have a blue spine symbol dust jacket on a thick book, it is necessary to find books that have jackets that list to #18. The blue spine symbol was introduced when the dust jackets listed to #18, so those printings occurred when the dust jackets first began to have the blue spine symbols.

I bought a copy of Nancy Drew Broken Locket with the four glossy internals. It lists to #10 in the post-text ad, so it can be any one of the first six printings from 1934 up to 1937. There is no way to tell the printings apart without a dust jacket. The book has an inscription dated Christmas 1934, so the book has to be either the 1934A-1 or the 1934B-2 printing. The book is valued at $80.00 in Farah's Guide, but this book is a bit worn. It is still a good find. I already have a copy of Broken Locket in a first printing book with a first printing dust jacket, so it will be sold.

I picked up all of the Landmark Books because I knew that I had once read of their desirability with homeschoolers. I was completely at sea as to which ones and how much, so I took all of them. My gut feeling was that I should buy them, so I went with it. I did not have time to think about it or do any research; I bought them on impulse. I have now checked completed listings for the Landmark Books. I found this auction:

RARE 1961 LANDMARK HB/DJ GREAT MEN OF MEDICINE BOOK Item #230326584502

The above book sold for $16.25. The dust jacket is faded around the edges just like the one I bought.

I bought one on the U.S. Marines. Mine is in better condition than the one from this listing that sold at $12.95:

STORY OF THE U.S.MARINES Landmark #14 Item #260335350479

Here is a lot that contained 26 Landmark Books with dust jackets:

Lot of 26 LANDMARK BOOKS HC DJs homeschool, history Item #330309004028

This lot closed at $97.23, and 25 of the 26 books have dust jackets.

I bought around 25 Landmark Books at the booksale, and around 20 of them have dust jackets. I was right to pick them up.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Book Sale Report Part III

For once, the books were sorted quite well overall, and this surprised me. Normally around 75% of the books I seek are in the Collector's Choice section with the remaining 25% scattered around the general section. That is what I have noticed year after year. Around 25% of the vintage books always end up in the wrong section.

I estimate that this year approximately 99% of the books I seek were in the Collector's Choice section and only 1% in the general section. I was very surprised that they sorted the books that well. The sorting has never been that good. I have wondered about it, and my thought is that they may have made certain to sort all of the old children's books into the Collector's Choice section because of the lead law.

Since the CPSA has stated that they will not fine people who sell vintage children's books as collectors items, then the library system probably figured that putting all of the old children's books in the Collector's Choice side would be wise. Whatever the reason, it made it much easier for me, and I probably came home with more books as a result.

I came home with 208 books. I ended up with a few overpriced undesirable books, which always happens during the mad rush. I try not to get books like that, but it always happens. For instance, I paid around $4.00 for a few books that are worth less than $1.00. I also ended up with a double oval endpapers Nancy Drew book in rough shape for which I paid $2.50. Ouch!

At least I managed not to get any flashlight editions, and there were a number of those at the sale. While I always end up with some books that I will have to list in bulk to send on their way, I end up with enough good books to cancel out the bad. More than anything, the annual booksale is recreation. I get to have fun selling the books in the coming months.

What is good is that I have found books that I can now pass onto others. I'm not sure right now how many of the books I will be keeping. I know that it will not be many. I will have to check the $1 box Nancy Drew PCs to see whether any of them are in better condition than the ones I have in my collection.

I am amused that I picked up Fire Dragon with the $1 box. I haven't forgotten how that seller dared us to find another one! Ha-ha, I found one! It's not so rare, is it?

I picked up a couple of books by Carolyn Wells in nice dust jackets. I will definitely be keeping those. A big benefit of this sale is that I always find a few books that I can check out to see whether I want to collect them. One year I found a couple of Peggy Lane books and later read one. That is what lead me to collecting the Peggy Lane books. It also led to the creation of my website since my frustration about the lack of information about Peggy Lane was a big part of my motivation to create a website.

For the books that I decide to sell, they will be listed in my Bonanzle booth as time allows. Right now I have a small stack of previously photographed books that will be listed next. I do not expect to list any books from the library sale for at least a couple of weeks.

All in all, this year's sale was great. It was better than last year, which was just so-so. Now I have to wait a year until the next one!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Book Sale Report Part II

Since I was just 21st in line, I was through the doors within 30 seconds of the start of the sale. The books I seek are in two locations. Some of them are on three tables in the children's book section in the front. The rest are in three bookcases in the very back of the building in the rare books section. I have no way of knowing for sure where the best books are located, as the sorting is not always consistent, but the bookcases on the back wall are where I always head first. If I'm going to find anything spectacular, it will be in those bookcases.

Once I went through the doors, I had a clear path to those bookcases in the back, since the 20 people in line in front of me all went in different directions. This is what is so great about these sales; we are all after different books and get first pick in whatever we seek. It is never necessary to be the very first person in line. So long as I am around the 20th to 30th person in line, everyone ahead of me wants different books. As I went through the doors, I began to speed up, just as everyone else did, and jogged to the back wall, pulling my luggage on wheels after me.

There were a number of Cherry Ames and Hardy Boys PCs. At first I ignored the Hardy Boys to get the Cherry Ames and to begin looking around for dust-jacketed books. I am always very nervous when I do this, because I know that I may have just seconds if there is something very good. I have had very good books taken from right in front of me in the past. I got a Nancy Drew in dust jacket listing to #18. I picked up some Thornton W. Burgess books and other miscellaneous. I finally looked at the Hardy Boys and pulled out the $1 box editions from the set and left the rest. I had to look over the bookcases several times because everything was mixed up.

I then jogged back to the tables in the front. I found so much in the back that I thought there would not be much in the front. I was wrong. They had Nancy Drew $1 box PCs and early PCs listing to Pine Hill. They had Whistling Bagpipes with the tri-fold ad; I didn't know about the tri-fold ad until later because I didn't have time to check. Books were getting grabbed fast!

I found a bunch of Happy Hollisters and a bunch of the Landmark Books. I have no personal interest in the Landmark Books, but I know that homeschoolers love them, so I took all of them. Most of them had dust jackets. I picked up a few Tom Swift, Jr., a few Judy Bolton, and some miscellaneous.

I then paid for my purchases in the Collector's Choice section. It was quite a feat of strength to get that piece of luggage shoved into my car. I think it must have weighed around 100 pounds. I then went back inside to the general section. The general section has far more books than the Collector's Choice side, and the books are mostly of no interest to me. I have to check, though. I found very little in the general section this year, less than usual. This was actually good, because by the time I reached the general section, it was so packed with people that I really could not look through the books well.

—to be continued

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Book Sale Report Part I

I went to a big library book sale on Friday. This is an annual event and is one of the two largest weekend book sales in the United States. This sale had at least 500,000 books, so it is a very big deal. I always wonder how they manage to consistently have that many books, year after year. I am very fortunate to live near one of the largest book sales.

I do not venture out to antique shops very often anymore, because it is not worth it. I do check the thrift stores every few weeks, but I no longer find much there, either. I think the thrift stores must now sell their books directly to dealers. There is a chance that some of them could be disposing their books due to the lead law, but I could find no clear evidence of that when I checked my stores last week. Goodwill is the only one that may have removed older books, but then Goodwill never really had any good older books in the first place.

Since I do not purchase often from local stores, this book sale is the one event I have left. I have been quite nervous about it for the past month because of the lead law. I reasoned that they surely would use common sense because guidelines have been issued about it being okay to sell older books. Even so, I have had a nagging unsettled feeling about the lead law and whether it would affect the sale. I was not about to send an email to inquire, as I didn't want to give them any ideas. With the lead law, "don't ask, don't tell" seems to be the best course of action.

I always take the day off work to go to the sale. I got in line 6 hours and five minutes before the sale began. I always wait in line for the Collector's Choice portion of the sale. The better books are placed in the Collector's Choice section, which is in a different room from the general section. The books in Collector's Choice are individually priced, usually under $5.00.

I was 21st in line for the Collector's Choice portion of the sale. The line had well over 1,000 people in it by the time the doors opened. It is hard to estimate exactly how many people are in a line like that, and I did not bother to try to count.

Anticipation is most of the fun. I actually enjoy waiting in line, wondering what I will find. I never find anything truly spectacular, but I always keep that dream alive. This year I daydreamed about finding the first printing Old Clock with an intact first printing dust jacket or that one Linda Carlton book I need. Since I own so many books, my dreams are always for very rare books that never come up for sale.

I didn't find either one, but I will continue to keep that hope alive. The first printing of Old Clock with the first printing dust jacket is the number one book on my wish list, and the Linda Carlton book is the number one book on my wish list for books that I can realistically expect to eventually own. I have some doubt as to whether I will ever own that first printing dust jacket of Old Clock.

My favorite part of waiting in line for the sale is the final 15 minutes. The excitement reaches its peak as the announcer counts down the final ten sections. I also get increasingly nervous during the final 10 minutes of my wait, since I know that the mad frenzy is about to begin.

—to be continued

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Auctiva Malware Warning

The eBay third-party developer Auctiva is infected with a trojan. The site has had problems since Thursday. Auctiva claimed that all servers were clean over the weekend, but on Monday, they discovered that the site was still infected. The site was taken offline on Monday night.

One does not have to be an Auctiva user to be infected with the trojan. It is possible to become infected while visiting an eBay listing that uses Auctiva. Some people state that eBay users will be fine so long as they do not attempt to use Auctiva checkout to pay for their items and as long as they do not click on the Auctiva gallery to enlarge images. Any eBay user that clicks on the Auctiva gallery, tries to enlarge pictures, or uses Auctiva checkout stands a high likelihood of becoming infected.

The consensus is that Firefox and Google Chrome are giving better warning messages about the trojan than Internet Explorer is. While using Google Chrome to run my searches, I clicked on a listing. The screen turned red with a warning about possible malware on the page. I was not infected since Google Chrome prevented the page from loading. Even so, the experience caused me to abandon my search immediately. This situation may cause sales on eBay to slump even more this week.

Be very careful while using eBay in the coming days. Additionally, do not use Auctiva at all for any reason.

For more information, visit these pages:

First AuctionBytes Article

Second AuctionBytes Article

eBay Message Thread

Monday, February 23, 2009

Chatter about eBay

EBay's message boards have far fewer posts than before eBay "disruptively innovated" them weeks ago. There is a tangible difference. Either eBay is completely clueless, or they want to destroy the message boards, which have mainly been used in recent months to bash eBay. Since eBay has disruptively innovated My eBay and will soon finish disruptively innovating search, I suspect that eBay is just clueless more than anything. Each successive change makes the site harder to use. Why do this?

Even though the boards have far fewer posts and far fewer complaints, one does not have to look far to find the complaints. In this message thread, the question is asked whether anyone likes any of the changes one year after the first round.

One person gave an example of one change that they thought was positive and then wrote, "Other than that, almost every change that eBay has made has reduced the value of the product that they are trying to sell to me." Several people chimed in to agree with that statement.

A few people stated that they liked the changes because the changes forced them to learn HTML and create websites, meaning that the changes were bad but forced them into proactive measures to improve their businesses.

Someone observed, "
In the past three weeks, I've been to two collectibles shows plus a health-care industry convention of 10,000+ here in Las Vegas. It surprised even me to hear so many say how ebay is 'useless' now and 'has gone completely down the tubes.' "

Another person commented, "I've talked with people who've never been on Ebay, yet know the company is in trouble. The news has spread to the mainstream public."

Last, someone wrote, "
I heard they moved the shareholder's meeting up to April from June. I predict heads will roll. And rightfully so.... And yes, they have a PR disaster on their hands. Everyone you talk to is mad at them."

I am now searching eBay even less that I was a month ago. I predict that my efforts in searching eBay for purchases will decrease even more dramatically when the new search is forced upon me. EBay is slowly driving me off the site. I have spent many thousands of dollars on eBay over the years, and I have sold many thousands of dollars worth of books over the years. In the big picture, eBay will not miss me, but I am only one of many who is choosing to go elsewhere.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ebay's "New and Improved" Search Is Coming

I have been opting out of eBay's new search for at least one year, primarily because I have heard horror stories about it for the past year. They used to call it the "Playground," but that name appears to have been retired. Regardless, I have heard very little good about the playground or whatever it is.

From eBay's Announcement Board:
Until now, buyers and sellers have been able to choose not to use the new search engine. With more than 90% of you now on board, we’ll be retiring the older technology in April of 2009. If you are one of the few who’s opted out, you’ll see some reminder messages during your searches.
Great . . . at least I know I have a little over one month before eBay finishes destroying what is left of my ability to find items. I did predict this on February 5th in my blog post, "eBay's Disruptive Innovation at Its Finest." I closed that post with this statement:
Now that eBay has begun to destroy its message boards, what will be changed next? No, wait; I already know. I'm sure we will all be defaulted into that horrible new eBay search called the "Playground" in which users are unable to find anything.
Gee, how did I know?

EBay is claiming that 90% are already using what I will now refer to as the "new and improved" search. Just like with My eBay, I bet eBay is counting all of the inactive IDs that were defaulted into the new search months ago. Are 90% of us really using the new search? Are any of you using it?

This is how you can tell. On your search results pages, you will see one of two messages in the top right just above the results. You will either see "Opt out of the new search experience" or "This search experience is available until April 2009. Try our new search." The first message means that you are using the new search, and the second message means that you are using the old search.

I will continue to use the old search until eBay pulls me kicking and screaming out of it. After my recent experiences with the "new and improved" My eBay and the "new and improved" message boards (which still load slower than they once did), I expect the "new and improved" search to be worse than the old one.

I ran my Nancy Drew search for the books category and with all of my seller restrictions on both the old and the new search. The old search returned 2,188 items. The new search returned 2,844 items. It could be good that the new search returned more items, but my gut feeling tells me that it is bad. Are my blocked sellers actually getting blocked? I wonder.

After writing the above comments, I investigated. As far as I can tell, my blocked sellers are still blocked. Here are the results broken down by category in the left sidebar for the old search:


Here are the results for the new search:



Since the number of results were low for "Textbook, Education," I used that subcategory to compare the results. In the old search, four results were returned and only one of them was a result that had little to do with Nancy Drew, How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen. The other three results all contained Nancy Drew books.

In the new search, nine results were returned: the three results from the old search that contained Nancy Drew books and six results that did not contain Nancy Drew books. The six results were three listings for How Reading Changed My Life plus two listings for As We Remember Her: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and one listing for First-Aid Kit for Mothers. So the new search returned the three relevant items from the old search plus five additional irrelevant items that the old search did not return. How is this better? My gut instinct is correct: the new search is bad, and eBay will become even harder to use in April.

So, when is John Donohoe going to be fired?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Fewer RARE Books . . .

It may not mean anything, but I have noticed that suddenly several sellers are not using the word "rare" as much to describe their books. Most of their current listings do not use the word, and most of their recent listings do not use the word. I wonder why?

I have criticized the overuse of the word for months. When at least one-third or more of a seller's books are described as rare and in capital letters so that the seller is shouting at buyers ( remember that all caps is considered SHOUTING on the internet), I devalue the meaning of the word and devalue all of the seller's descriptions. The word has been overused by several people to the point that it no longer means anything at all.

Why have they suddenly decided to use it sparingly or not at all? It could be coincidental and temporary. Perhaps they will begin using it again in the coming weeks. We all change our minds on how we wish to market our items. On the other hand, it is also possible that these people have become aware of my and others' comments about overusing the word. I have no way of knowing what it is, but I do feel that it is likely that people who regularly sell series books will eventually stumble across this blog.

Back last year, I am fairly certain that in at least one instance, a seller changed his descriptions because of my comments. I refer you to this post:

More on the Applewood Editions


The seller had included this statement in his descriptions about the Applewood editions:
Although these books profess to be only reprints of the originals, their charm and craftsmanship continue to win the hearts of Nancy Drew fans, sometimes to the chagrin of Nancy purists.
I wrote this response in my blog:
Huh? First of all, I am about as serious of a Nancy Drew collector as one can be, but I am most certainly not a Nancy Drew purist. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I have always thought that a Nancy Drew purist was someone who only likes the original text books, #1-34. Aren't the Applewood editions the original text? Why would a purist have a problem with them?
I noted that within two weeks of that post, the seller had changed his descriptions to avoid using the word "purist." Interesting . . . I am very aware that when I write about auctions that the sellers may eventually end up reading my comments. This is why everything I write is filtered, and I try not to be too harsh. For some situations, I avoid mentioning auctions until they are closed so as not to interfere with the selling process.

So I have railed against the overuse of "rare," and I wonder why fewer books are currently described as "rare." I have mentioned on at least two recent occasions that I do boycott the listings of people who overuse the word. I have also mentioned in the past that while these people do lure in the newbie buyers, they turn off people like me. I once posed the question of whether it is worth it to alienate one group of collectors while taking advantage of another group. Have some of these people read my comments?

By the way, even though I do boycott some sellers' listings, if one of them should ever come up with that one Linda Carlton book that I need, I would quickly overcome my aversion and would place a bid. While I will not purchase books from them that I feel that I can find from others, I will purchase truly rare books should one ever surface. I am not going to go without a book just as a matter of principle.

In closing, I wish to make clear that I really do not have a problem with sellers describing some books as rare. Using the word for some books is fine; using it for a high percentage of books just to grab attention is what I dislike.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More on eBay's Folly

I found an article from InternetRetailer.com about eBay which is worth reading. This article contains statistics provided by eBay, so it partially explains away some of what people like me have noticed.

Transforming eBay

The article quotes Stephanie Tilenius, senior vice president and general manager of eBay North America. "Change is hard for everyone, but we are committed to making sure there are no bad experiences for buyers.” That is not possible! I just had a bad experience. I still do not have that book that I very much want that I purchased on January 23. Yes, eBay was quick about suspending the seller's account, and I am certain that the claim will be found in my favor. Even if my $8.00 is ultimately refunded to me, I will not be happy. All that I want is my book. EBay needs to figure out a way to force the seller to mail the book to me. Perhaps eBay should hire some bounty hunters to hunt down wayward sellers and strong-arm them into forking over the goods.

Internet Retailer mentions how eBay has lost ground to Amazon:
Sales at eBay are taking a hit, too. Merchandise sold on eBay declined for the first time in history in the third quarter, falling 1% to $14.28 billion from $14.40 billion a year earlier. And in the fourth quarter of 2008, sales of merchandise, excluding vehicles, fell 12% year-over-year from $13.10 billion to $11.47 billion. Amazon’s third-quarter sales increased 31%.
Isn't it odd that eBay wants to emulate Amazon, yet as eBay puts this plan into motion, eBay's sales decrease while Amazon's increase? EBay seems not to know that one should never try to transform into one's top competitor. It usually never ends good.

Internet Retailer also states, " 'One of the key themes emerging in the e-commerce industry over the past two years is the shift of marketplace momentum to Amazon from eBay,' says Colin Sebastian, an equity analyst at Lazard Capital Markets." EBay little understands that the shift from eBay to Amazon is because eBay has destroyed what it once was.

Internet Retailer mentions that eBay's strategy is to entice sellers to list at fixed-prices since eBay believes that is what shoppers want. The article concludes that eBay's plan seems to be working because at "the end of the third quarter of 2008, fixed price listings accounted for 46% of total listings, up from 41% a year earlier. What’s more, the new fees appear to have encouraged merchants to list more items: new listings were up 26% in the third quarter of 2008 from a year earlier."

I can answer why the fixed-price listings increased so much. EBay signed deals with the new diamond powersellers who dumped hundreds of thousands of fixed-price items onto the site. It does not necessarily mean that people like me have switched to fixed-price listings. Instead, people like me have decided to flee.

Did you know that one of my Bonanzle items shows up near the top of a Nancy Drew search on Google? Bonanzle's items are given a higher ranking than eBay's items on Google. EBay is past its glory. Okay, back to the main point of this post.

Check out Medved's 2008 item counts for eBay:

I drew a line through the graph at the level the listings were at in September when the diamond powersellers began to come onboard. Notice the huge jump that occured in the number of listings. That jump is not because people like me decided to list a bunch of stuff. It is because eBay signed sweet deals with retailers to list their items for free. They do list for free, you know, and pay eBay only when their items sell. This is even mentioned in the Internet Retailer article, and the article also suggests that the fees paid when items sell are probably lower for the diamond powersellers.

Internet Retailer states that Buy.com CEO Neel Grover believes that Buy.com should receive higher exposure than it does on eBay:
Grover would like to see diamond merchants like Buy.com given more prominence on eBay. Today, Buy.com is listed as an eBay store called Buy and easily lost in the shuffle of the thousands of other shops. “The overall benefit of what shoppers get with the diamond tier and the advantages of such merchants could have some branding around it,” Grover says.
How horrifying that would be! Buy.com is already hogging the books category, and Grover does not think that Buy.com is getting enough exposure? Please! The day that eBay allows Buy.com to receive even higher exposure than it currently does is the day that eBay will become completely unusable. Thank goodness we can block sellers. I hope eBay does not take that away from us.

Here is one last quote from Internet Retailer:
EBay’s own statistics do not suggest a big exodus of sellers. The number of eBay stores at the end of September 2008 was 534,000, up 3% from 520,000 a year earlier, eBay says.
This is kind of like those statistics in which eBay claimed that 90% of us were already happily using the "new and improved" My eBay. I'm not buying it. So the number of stores has increased. What does that prove? That 3% increase is probably from the stores of the new diamond powersellers along with various people who do not know that other venues exist. I never had a store in the first place, and I know of others who are no longer selling on eBay who never had a store. The number of eBay stores is unimportant. It is a fact that fewer good series books are listed on eBay. They have disappeared.

Monday, February 16, 2009

eBay's Big Announcement

According to the AuctionBytes blog, eBay has a big announcement:
Jim "Griff" Griffith gave listeners some tantalizing hints on his radio show this week about some upcoming eBay announcements and the direction of the marketplace. He said, "This is a big month at eBay. We're working on some interesting things, and a lot of them will be revealed in the next 30 days."
Mmm, do we really want to know? Why do I have this impending feeling of dread about this announcement? After everything eBay has done, which has supposedly been for the general good of people like me, why should I think that this big announcement will be good?

People are speculating about it. AuctionBytes quotes Griff as stating, "Advertising is a way of monetizing the site. Everyone knows that that's a way,..free services usually have some form of advertising... I'll let you draw some conclusions or maybe let that take your thought process. " An AuctionBytes reader suggests that eBay may be changing to free listings.

I'm not so sure that free listings would be a good idea. Wouldn't that increase the amount of junk on the site? Do we really need more junk on eBay? Also, I bet if the listings do become free, eBay will have strings attached to it, like how we have to be a new seller or have to have sold in the last month. You know...something that would prevent people like me from getting free listings.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

CPSIA of 2008 - The Lead Law Part 4

I have been digging around some more to see what is happening with the lead law. I discovered that only four people voted against the bill: Congressman Ron Paul and senators Tom Coburn, Jim DeMint, and Jon Kyl. These four are the only ones in Congress who voted against this atrocity. I am pleased that my own senator, Tom Coburn, is one of them.

Courtesy of this opinion piece written by Walter Olson, I now know why it is okay to sell books printed after 1985. That was the year that it became illegal to use lead pigments in the inks used in books. From the same article, this point is made:
This doesn’t mean that the books pose any hazard to children. While lead poisoning from other sources, such as paint in old houses, remains a serious public health problem in some communities, no one seems to have been able to produce a single instance in which an American child has been made ill by the lead in old book illustrations—not surprisingly, since unlike poorly maintained wall paint, book pigments do not tend to flake off in large lead-laden chips for toddlers to put into their mouths.
Children do not eat books, as a general rule, so books do not pose a threat. I feel like if a child is in fact eating books, he or she has more serious immediate issues than the future possibility of lead poisoning.

Walter Olson also writes:
Jacobsen also worries that any temporary forbearance on the part of the CPSC, which has said that it does not plan a reseller crackdown any time soon in the absence of evidence of risk, could be abrogated without notice in the future. For one thing, new commissioners appointed by the Obama administration are expected to show less sympathy in regulating business than the current commission. In addition, the 50 state attorneys general have been empowered to enforce the law on their own, and frequently take much more aggressive legal positions than those of the federal government, sometimes teaming with private lawyers who capture a share of fines imposed.
We do need to be very concerned about what the future holds. This law is a distinct threat to all people who value old children's items, and we could lose what we cherish if this law is not changed.

Libraries have a problem, since according to Olson "the law bans the 'distribution' of forbidden items, whether or not for profit. In addition, most libraries regularly raise money through book sales, and will now need to consider excluding older children’s titles from those sales. One CPSC commissioner, Thomas Moore, has already called for libraries to 'sequester' some undefinedly large fraction of pre-1985 books until more is known about their risks."

Isn't this an utter violation of our freedom? I cannot stomach any more of this right now, so this is the end of this installment. I will keep blogging about this issue, because the more of us who get involved spreading the word, the more likely the mainstream press will finally notice.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

CPSIA of 2008 - The Lead Law Part 3

The CPSC has issued some guidelines for how it is interpreting the lead law. This page contains those guidelines. The relevant information for us is in Question 17:
Question 17: Can I sell vintage children’s books and other children’s products that are collectibles?

Yes. Used vintage children’s books and other children’s products sold as collector’s items would not be primarily intended for children. Because of their value and age, they would not be expected to be used by children. Therefore, they do not fall into the definition of children’s product and do not need to comply with the lead limits.
While the CPSC will not fine people for selling used collectible vintage children's books, the bottom line is this: The lead law bans the sale of all vintage children's items unless it can be proved that those items do not contain lead. The law has not been rewritten. It is still illegal to sell vintage children's items and will be illegal until Congress actually decides to rewrite this law.

Overlawyered has an article examining this topic:

CPSIA: What will be enforced?

As with other articles I have posted, please make sure you read it. I am providing only one excerpt here:
In short, the CPSIA is purposely drafted to place many advantages in the hands of consumer groups or other litigants who might wish to challenge an exemption in court. Since the CPSC cannot be sure of having the last word — its attempt to carve out an exemption for pre-Feb. 10 phthalate inventories was just struck down — it would be incautious for producers or retailers to rely overmuch on its policy pronouncements, especially since, while it obviously has some discretion over its own enforcement efforts, it cannot prevent others (like state attorneys general) from bringing their own actions.
We do still need to be concerned, especially because of what is now happening. Overlawyered also has a great article summarizing what has transpired since Tuesday.

Thrift stores, the day after

As already reported by a reader of this blog, some thrift stores have decided that they cannot continue to sell children's items. These stores are either placing the children's items in storage or destroying them. There are now quite a few reports of thrift stores throwing children's items in the dumpster or selling them to salvage companies. Since thrift stores tend to be nonprofit organizations, they do not want to risk any liability. They would rather throw away the donations than take any risk.

Now is not a good time to donate your extra children's books to thrift stores. I have some books that I do not want to sell, but I am going to keep them for now. I do not want them to end up in the landfill. Now that it is the weekend, I need to venture forth to see whether my local thrift stores still have children's items for sale.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Length of Nancy Drew Titles

In the past, I have noticed while listing books on eBay that the titles of the original 56 Nancy Drew books tend to be very close in length. I work from a template and type over the titles when changing from one listing to the next. Some of the titles have the exact same number of characters. I finally decided to make a note of how many characters each title has. The character counts include the spaces between the words.

1. The Secret of the Old Clock - 27
2. The Hidden Staircase - 20
3. The Bungalow Mystery - 20
4. The Mystery at Lilac Inn - 24
5. The Secret at/of Shadow Ranch - 26
6. The Secret of Red Gate Farm -27
7. The Clue in the Diary - 21
8. Nancy's Mysterious Letter - 25
9. The Sign of the Twisted Candles - 24
10. The Password to Larkspur Lane - 29
11. The Clue of the Broken Locket - 29
12. The Message in the Hollow Oak - 29
13. The Mystery of the Ivory Charm - 30
14. The Whispering Statue - 21
15. The Haunted Bridge - 18
16. The Clue of the Tapping Heels - 29
17. The Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk - 36
18. The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion - 39
18. Mystery of the Moss-Covered Mansion - 35
19. The Quest of the Missing Map - 28
20. The Clue in the Jewel Box - 25
21. The Secret in the Old Attic -27
22. The Clue in the Crumbling Wall - 30
23. The Mystery of the Tolling Bell - 31
24. The Clue in the Old Album - 25
25. The Ghost of Blackwood Hall - 27
26. The Clue of the Leaning Chimney - 31
27. The Secret of the Wooden lady - 29
28. The Clue of the Black Keys - 26
29. The Mystery at the Ski Jump - 27
30. The Clue of the Velvet Mask - 27
31. The Ringmaster's Secret - 23
32. The Scarlet Slipper Mystery - 27
33. The Witch Tree Symbol - 21
34. The Hidden Window Mystery - 25
35. The Haunted Showboat - 20
36. The Secret of the Golden Pavilion - 33
37. The Clue in the Old Stagecoach - 30
38. The Mystery of the Fire Dragon - 30
39. The Clue of the Dancing Puppet - 30
40. The Moonstone Castle Mystery - 28
41. The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes - 34
42. The Phantom of Pine Hill - 24
43. The Mystery of the 99 Steps - 27
44. The Clue in the Crossword Cipher - 32
45. The Spider Sapphire Mystery - 28
46. The Invisible Intruder - 22
47. The Mysterious Mannequin - 24
48. The Crooked Banister - 20
49. The Secret of Mirror Bay - 24
50. The Double Jinx Mystery - 23
51. Mystery of the Glowing Eye - 26
52. The Secret of the Forgotten City - 32
53. The Sky Phantom - 15
54. The Strange Message in the Parchment - 36
55. Mystery of Crocodile Island - 27
56. The Thirteenth Pearl - 20

Grosset and Dunlap definitely preferred for the titles to have between 20 and 30 characters. I have always favored the longer titles over the shorter titles, so I have never liked most of the titles with fewer than 20 characters as much as the rest of the titles.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

CPSIA of 2008 - The Lead Law Part 2

It seems that the language about not prosecuting people for selling children's books printed after 1985 does indeed mean that we are to discard all old children's books printed before 1985. Please read this blog:

CPSIA and Vintage Books

I am seriously not kidding. Read it.

In the above blog, instances of thrift stores throwing old children's books in the trash are noted. It is happening just as people predicted. Rather than face possible prosecution, stores will discard their old books and old toys. How do you feel about old series books getting destroyed because of this law?

I want to scream. The people who wrote this horrible law are idiots. I have no problem with the lead restrictions on newly-manufactured items, but to place a blanket ban on all new and old items that might possibly contain lead is an abomination.

Forbes.com has a great list of articles from all of the fifty states. The articles show how the lead ban is affecting all parts of the country and all facets of our society.

How the CPSIA Wreaks Havoc in Every State

I have not read any of the articles listed on Forbes yet. All that I could do is read the one blog post before my blood pressure began to rise. I have already had too much excitement from tornadoes coming too close to me today, so I need to calm down. This is what the last month has been like. Every few days I read about the lead law, became upset, and waited a couple of days before reading more.

The authors of the law are not interested in changing it. They do not understand that their blanket ban should not extend to vintage items. They do not understand that pieces of this country's history are going to be destroyed because stores are afraid to sell the items. If the average book contained enough lead to cause health problems, I doubt any of us book collectors would still be alive. I am surrounded by books, and I do not feel that I am suffering from lead poisoning. If I am indeed suffering from lead poisoning, I certainly do not know it.

Some eBay Message Board Funnies

Many people are still complaining about eBay's message boards. I'm getting used to them, but the pages do load slower, especially with Internet Explorer. Fortunately, the load time is okay with Firefox, which is what I use.

Some of the complaints are quite humorous, and some of the users' methods of manipulating eBay's new features is hilarious. The new boards truncate the user names so that longer names are cut off on the boards. This has caused some non-profane user IDs to appear to be profane as displayed. Some people are now registering new seemingly innocuous IDs that will display in a profane fashion. Here is one example in which someone suggested what would happen with a name change:


This is the result:


Additionally, a number of people hate the display of the avatars on the message boards, so they have decided to be creative. After all, eBay provides the opportunity, so why not show their support?

This person posted a message about using the avatar to show contempt:

The image was created by taking a photograph of eBay's CEO John Donohoe, tinting it orange to match the default avatar image, and decorating with an interesting hat. This person's post to the message board appears to have been removed, no doubt because eBay did not appreciate it. I find it rather funny.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Where Is My Book? Part 3

My seller has now been suspended from eBay, and all of his current listings have been removed. He is no longer a registered user, and his completed listings have also been removed. This means that the old listings are no longer in eBay's database at all. I have never understood why eBay erases the listings completely. They have stated that erasing the listings makes the process easier.

I received a series of messages today stating that the listing had been removed along with the usual suggestions about what to do. When I first saw the messages, I thought for a moment that they were scam messages trying to get me to click on a link that would give me a virus. I did open the first message after considering for a moment and knew that the message was real when I saw the seller's name.

Since I did not receive the book today, I filed a PayPal claim and escalated it. I know it will be found in my favor as is standard when the seller is kicked off eBay. This does not necessarily mean that my $8.00 is recoverable. I will not know until PayPal closes the claim.

I am still holding out a very small amount of hope that the book might show up in the next day or so. The chances are quite slim, though. At least eBay acted pretty quickly in kicking this seller off the site. The seller probably had far more complaints than what were apparent by his feedback. Feedback should never be the first resort, so quite a few of his buyers had likely already filed claims but had not left feedback.

CPSIA of 2008 - The Lead Law

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 goes into effect on Tuesday, February 10, 2009. This law bans all lead-containing products that were manufactured for the use of children aged 12 and under. The ban is retroactive and includes all children's products past and present.

A week ago, CPSC announced a one-year stay on the ban, but a district court revoked that stay. The law goes into effect on Tuesday as originally planned. As I understand it, the law has not been rewritten or amended in any way, shape, or form, regardless of what people have claimed in the past month, and no products have been officially removed from the ban.

What does this mean? Basically, beginning on Tuesday, it will be illegal to sell any children's item that might contain lead, and the seller must have certification that the product is within the allowable limits. The only way to get certification is to have expensive tests run on all of the component parts of the item, not just the finished product.

Here is an excerpt of one of the CSPC press releases that supposedly clarified the situation:
The new safety law does not require resellers to test children’s products in inventory for compliance with the lead limit before they are sold. However, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit and therefore should avoid products that are likely to have lead content, unless they have testing or other information to indicate the products being sold have less than the new limit. Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties.
Exactly how is one to know which products are likely to contain lead that exceeds the limit?

This is from the February 6, 2009 press release:
Manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers should also be aware that CPSC will:

* Not impose penalties against anyone for making, importing, distributing, or selling

o a children’s product to the extent that it is made of certain natural materials, such as wood, cotton, wool, or certain metals and alloys which the Commission has recognized rarely, if ever, contain lead;

o an ordinary children’s book printed after 1985; or

o dyed or undyed textiles (not including leather, vinyl or PVC) and non-metallic thread and trim used in children’s apparel and other fabric products, such as baby blankets.
The part that gets me is that CPSC states that there will be no penalties for "making, importing, distributing, or selling" "an ordinary children’s book printed after 1985." So does that mean that all children's books printed before 1985 must have the expensive testing done, even when the books are sold to collectors? Do they really think that children eat old books? Wouldn't children have more immediate problems than the possibility of lead poisoning if they eat old books?

I have avoided mentioning much that I could have, because I have trouble remembering all that I have read about this law. Quite frankly, everything I have read about this law makes my head spin.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Where Is My Book? Part 2

I decided that I might as well keep a log of this train wreck. My seller's feedback is getting worse, and he is gaining negatives rapidly.



His shipping time DSR has now fallen to 4.1, which is the value that will get him blocked from selling. He still has 453 listings. I would expect that eBay will block him from listing additional items even if the current ones are permitted to run.

He has received some positives in the last couple of days from people whose purchases occurred from about the same time as mine, so I am hoping that I receive the book within the next couple of days. If I do not receive the book by around Wednesday, I feel that I can consider this one to be hopeless. At least I only have $8.00 invested in this one.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Where Is My Book?

I bought a book on January 23, and I have not received it yet. The amount of time that has passed is a big concern, but the weather has been bad in many parts of the country. When sellers are honest, books that are delayed usually turn up.

This book is a very hard to find book that I want for my collection and is not just some random book that is of little importance to me. The book's cost was less than $10 but is worth much more than that to me.

I checked the seller's feedback a few minutes ago. It is not good. The seller has acquired many negatives in the last couple of weeks. The negatives state that the items have not been received and that the seller is not communicating. I bet my book has not even been mailed yet.

I sent the seller a message asking for shipment information. I am not confident of receiving a response. I just hope he decides to mail the book. I wish I could slap him. I despise nothing more than someone not mailing my purchase when it is something that I greatly desire and have looked forward to receiving.

I have at least one purchase go missing per year in cases in which I feel confident that the sellers were honest and did actually mail the packages. In those cases, the packages go missing because of inferior packing methods.

I have seldom been outright defrauded. Unless I have forgotten one of them, I have been defrauded twice and nearly defrauded two other times. In the latter cases, the sellers finally mailed the items after I filed complaints.

I have also had a handful of other types of problems with sellers. In one case, the books had undisclosed past severe water damage and arrived in a package that had something spilled on it that seeped inside and wet the books. It was an odd combination of past and present water damage. The seller claimed that her pictures showed the water damage, which was false. The seller also claimed that she was not responsible for the contents of the package arriving wet. Ultimately, that seller did allow me to return the books for a full refund but only after I made a big deal about it.

It is very frustrating. I have bought thousands of books over the years, and I seldom have problems. Nearly every time that I have had problems with a seller, there were warning signs. My current problem seller did already have three negatives from the previous month. I decided to take the risk. I don't regret it, because I wouldn't have had a chance at the book otherwise.

If the downturn that has occurred in the seller's feedback was already present when my book was up for sale, I would have thought twice about bidding. From the information I had at that time, I knew the seller was not the very best but thought that I would almost certainly receive my book. As the seller's feedback looks now, I am most likely not going to receive the book.

EBay began the Detailed Seller Rating system in order to restrict marginal sellers and to help protect buyers. I can't see where it is working. I am dumbfounded that my seller still has hundreds of open listings, considering that one of his DSRs is 4.2.

I checked the current policy, and eBay now reduces search standing for a DSR of 4.3 (odd since they lowered my search standing during the time that I had a DSR of 4.6) and restricts a seller who has a DSR of 4.1. This seller is continuing to sell despite numerous negatives, PayPal complaints (these are mentioned in the negatives), and terrible DSRs. Even though the seller's DSRs are above the minimum, all the negatives and complaints should be enough to force a restriction or removal of his listings. Why does eBay pick on people who have higher ratings yet allows people like this to continue to sell?

Despite My Best Efforts . . .

No matter how hard I try to educate people about books, some people read my website and come away just as uninformed as they were before they read it. A reader of this blog informed me about a seller misquoting my website in an auction right after he contacted the seller of the mistake.

This is the auction:

The Secret of the Old Clock - Carolyn Keene-Nancy Drew

The auction was for an early 1940s thick blue Nancy Drew book with a white spine dust jacket with the spine symbol. I took a screen cap of the auction since I knew the seller would probably change it. This is how the auction description originally ended:
The seller went to my website, read my commentary, and somehow came away with the idea that Nancy Drew books from the early 1940s are rare. To the seller's credit, the description was changed and that last sentence was removed. I can only do so much. People read my comments and misinterpret them.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

eBay's Disruptive Innovation at Its Finest

A couple years ago, eBay created its "disruptive innovation" program, which ultimately resulted in John Donahoe becoming the CEO of the company and heading the company further along a disruptive path of innovation, or as I like to call it, destructive innovation. An AuctionBytes article from December 4, 2008 is quite prophetic. The article, eBay Replaces Community with Commodity, closes with the following statement:
In April, top eBay executives speaking at conferences said eBay was moving towards a more retail-like experience, and that "you will not recognize eBay this time next year." Truer words could not have been spoken, and once the holiday shopping season is over, we're likely to see more change.
EBay has been very busy during early 2009 in continuing its destructive innovation. On January 2o, eBay launched the new and improved My eBay, which loads slower, crashes many browsers, and is a bit difficult to customize and use.

A few weeks ago, I first heard that eBay planned to upgrade its message boards on February 3. I, along with many other users, suspected that the changes to the message boards would make them worse instead of better. EBay upgraded, or rather, destructively innovated, the message boards a little more than 24 hours ago. Yes, the message boards do have some new features which are improvements. The problem is that some of the other new features make the boards far less usable than they were before. Sound familiar? We just went through this a few weeks ago with My eBay.

All message comments now have the avatars of the users who post the messages. This is fine within each message thread, but it is problematic on the main page of each message board. The avatars cause the titles of the threads to be far apart and difficult to quickly scan. Add that to the fact that the pages now load slower and hang slightly, and it takes more time and effort to view the available topics.

EBay has defaulted each page of each message board to just fifteen posts. Each board has an advanced options tab in which the user can increase the number of posts to as many as 50. I did this earlier today, but later, the boards had defaulted back to 15 posts per page. It is not helpful when settings need to be changed repeatedly.

So far I am not impressed with the new message boards. The message boards were great because they were so easy to read. I am not certain whether I will be reading the message boards as much. Perhaps eBay wishes to destroy the message boards so that users will not have the ability to complain so much.

Now that eBay has begun to destroy its message boards, what will be changed next? No, wait; I already know. I'm sure we will all be defaulted into that horrible new eBay search called the "Playground" in which users are unable to find anything.

Change for the sake of change is never good.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Early Kay Tracey Dust Jackets

I recently bought an auction lot that contained the first four Kay Tracey books with dust jackets. The dust jackets are very early dust jackets; in fact, all four dust jackets may be the first printing dust jackets.

I have a complete set of the early thick yellow Kay Tracey books with dust jackets, and it was very difficult just to get the thick books with dust jackets that have unfaded spines. Due to the difficulty of getting a thick book with a nice dust jacket, I never tried to get any first printing dust jackets. I probably do have a few of the first printings of the last several titles, but I do not have any for the early books.

I used to have a first printing dust jacket of one of the early Kay Tracey books, but the spine was faded so I sold it when I acquired a slightly later printing with an unfaded spine. The condition of the dust jacket spines is very important to me since that part of the dust jacket is the part that I see on the shelf. I cannot stand faded spines and only have faded spines for the series books that are very scarce.

When I spotted the lot of four books and realized that the spines were unfaded and that the jackets were very early or first printings, I decided to buy them. The jackets are in varying stages of deterioration. All of them are brittle, but The Strange Echo is the worst of the four. This is what I had after I removed the dust jacket from the book:


The dust jacket was in many pieces, and additional pieces came loose as I repaired it. I had to use archival tape on it as there was no other way to get the dust jacket reassembled. Anyone who has tried to repair a dust jacket knows how hard it is to get the different pieces lined up properly. This is what I had after around 15 minutes of work:

I still had a couple of pieces that I could not match up with it or any of the other jackets. Since they must belong to Strange Echo, I put them in the mylar cover behind the jacket.

I do believe that at least three of the four dust jackets are the first printing dust jackets. Here is the dust jacket for The Secret of the Red Scarf, which is the first title in the series:


The dust jacket lists just the first two titles in the series. Since it was standard practice for publishers to release the first two to four books of a series simultaneously as a breeder set, the first two Kay Tracey books were probably released at the same time. For this reason, I believe that the above dust jacket is the first printing dust jacket.

Here is the dust jacket for The Strange Echo, the second title in the series:


The front flap lists just the first two titles in the series, just like the dust jacket for The Secret of the Red Scarf. Most likely, the above dust jacket is the first printing dust jacket.

Here is the dust jacket for The Mystery of the Swaying Curtains, the third title in the series:


It lists to the fourth title in the series. For that reason, it may not be the first printing dust jacket, unless volumes three and four were released simultaneously. I notice that the copyright pages for the first two books list just the first two books with "other volumes in preparation." The copyright pages for the third and fourth books list the first four books with "other volumes in preparation." For this reason, it seems likely that the third and fourth books were released simultaneously, so my third book does likely have the first printing dust jacket.

Here is the dust jacket for The Shadow on the Door, the fourth title in the series:


This dust jacket lists to the fourth title, so it is probably the first printing dust jacket.

One last thing—I paid under $8.00 per book, so these books were a bargain.

Monday, February 2, 2009

How to Subscribe to Comments

A question was asked earlier today about whether it is possible to have all of the current day's comments emailed. I felt like the answer should be placed in a post of its own.

Google has a help page about how someone can subscribe to comments:

http://help.blogger.com/bin/answer.py?answer=79117&topic=12506

What readers need to do is click on the title of a post. On the post's individual page, a link appears at the bottom where the reader can subscribe to the comments for that post.

If I understand correctly, the blog reader would have to click on the subscription link of every single post in this blog, of which there are over 250, in order to have all of the future comments emailed. That would take awhile, but it can be done. What I would recommend is subscribing to the older posts that have information that is most pertinent to the reader's interests.

Most of the older posts do not gain any additional comments, but I have had some ongoing discussions in the comments section of some older posts. Most readers of this blog miss these comments unless they have subscribed to the comments for those posts. This most often happens with the various "Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew" posts.