Friday, October 30, 2009

The "New" Dana Girls Books

Two "new" Dana Girls books are now for sale on various websites. I have seen them on at least three different websites, and I am sure that they are available on others as well. Two different people have asked me about these books, and they are also the subject of some discussion in the Judy Bolton group.

The "new" Dana Girls books are called The Secret at the Windmill Estate and The Mystery of the Cameo Curse. These are not new stories. They are actually Kay Tracey books that have been "rewritten" into Dana Girls books by someone. While names have been changed and passages have been partially rewritten, the "new" Dana Girls books have heavily plagiarized the two Kay Tracey books.

Here is the beginning of the Kay Tracey book, The Secret at the Windmill:
Three high school girls, their arms loaded with textbooks, raced across the Carmont station platform, swinging aboard the train just as it started to move.

"One day we'll be a second too late," Betty Worth declared, brushing a wisp of blond hair from her eyes. "Kay Tracey, you're a regular sprinter when it comes to catching trains at the last moment!"

"I don't like to stand around at a station platform when I can find more interesting things to do," Kay responded, her brown eyes twinkling. "Besides, foot racing is good for the figure."

"If we keep pace with you we'll be skeletons before the school term ends," Wilma drawled. "Look at me already."
Here is the opening of the "new" Dana Girls book, The Secret at Windmill Estate:
Two school girls raced across the Penfield station platform, swinging aboard the train just as it started to move. The train slowly left the station in the late afternoon sunshine.

"One day we'll be a second too late," Jean Dana declared, brushing a wisp of blond hair from her eyes. "Louise, you're a regular sprinter when it comes to catching trains at the last moment!"

"I don't like to stand around at a station platform when I can find more interesting things to do," Louise Dana answered her sister, her eyes twinkling. "Besides, foot racing is good for the figure."

"We'll be skeletons before the school term ends," Jean said. As the days grew longer and the temperature became warmer, she knew that Summer would soon be upon them.
The above passage is taken from the preview that appears on the link that I provided near the beginning of this post. I have not purchased these books, and I do not intend to do so. They sound interesting, but I do not find them interesting enough to want to pay nearly $20 for each of them. Perhaps if they were less than $10, I would at least consider it.

The copyright pages, which can be seen in the preview of the books, refer to the books as parodies. Parodies are protected under copyright laws, so by calling the books parodies, the author was able to get a publisher to accept them. By definition, a parody "imitates the characteristic style of an author or a work for comic effect or ridicule." First, I do not believe that these texts are intended to ridicule the original texts. Second and more importantly, these texts are much more than imitation. Large portions of these texts are identical to the original books. This is plagiarism.

Both the Dana Girls and Kay Tracey series were properties of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, which was purchased by Simon and Schuster. I doubt that Simon and Schuster gave permission for these books to be published.

As to whether collectors should purchase these books, that is an individual decision. Some collectors have expressed positive opinions and will be purchasing them. Others, like me, will not be purchasing the books. Mainly, people need to be aware that these books are not completely new stories.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Crossword Cipher Saga Continues...

This is just amazing. I bought this lot of books on eBay:

Nancy Drew 10 hardcovers 1933 & up GREAT set!!! Item #220494603776


I only bought the lot because of the library binding of Whispering Statue, not that I really needed another library binding. The books didn't look to be in very good shape, in spite of the seller's comments. I just received the books, and they are what I expected—not in very good shape. Whenever I buy library bindings, they usually come with poor condition books, and that is what I expect regardless of what the seller states.

As I pull Nancy Drew picture covers from packages, I always turn to the back cover to see what is the last title listed. I get to the rather trashed copy of Crossword Cipher and... it lists to Pine Hill on the back cover. The elusive first printing! Or is it?

The book lists to Pine Hill on the back cover, which meets the points for the elusive 1967A-1 printing.

However, we have a problem. The elusive first printing has no interior list of titles... then why on earth does mine have a list of titles? It is on the reverse side of the last page of text, which is page 177.


The list of titles is ND #1-43 and DG #1-27. This matches the interior list for the third, fourth, and fifth printings. So I seem to have a hybrid between the first and one of three later printings. So what do I have? Do I have the elusive first printing? As far as I'm concerned, I have yet another interesting anomaly. I'm not convinced that it is the first printing. I still think that the "first printing" of Crossword Cipher is more of an anomaly, even though multiple examples exist.

So if you own a Crossword Cipher listing to Pine Hill, does your book have a post-text list of titles? This gets stranger and stranger.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Warnings at Waverly Academy

The 21st Nancy Drew game, Warnings at Waverly Academy, was released this month by Her Interactive. This game is loosely based on the Nancy Drew book, The Curse of the Black Cat. Unlike the early Nancy Drew games, the more recent ones are just slightly based on the books, so it is possible to have read the book and not be able to guess who the villain is in the game.

This game was back to basics. I greatly enjoyed how for the first time in a number of games, the player is able to walk through and explore a building in first person. In most of the recent games, a large amount of the game play has been in third person, in which the player has to guide Nancy from above through some means.

The character interaction is much better than in the previous game, Ransom of the Seven Ships. In Seven Ships, the player is only able to talk to a couple of people so it is not hard to guess who the villain is. In this game, the player is able to speak to a number of characters, so it is not obvious.

As in previous games, the player has to play games with one of the characters in order to gain information. I found the two games to be much easier than the ones from Seven Ships. Seven Ships has this horrible coconut throw that is just about impossible to win. I hated it. This game has scram and air hockey, and I was able to win both on just the second try. My first try yielded me the necessary information on how to play each game, so on the second try I was able to beat both of them.

I cheated with online spoilers a few times, but if I had wished to spend the extra time, I could have completed all tasks without help. This game was easier than most of the recent Nancy Drew games. It would probably be a good one for someone to try who has never played a Nancy Drew game.

For people who like the play the game to learn the title of the next game, please stop reading here if you do not want to know the title or subject of the next game that is to be released next year. Remember, you've been warned to quit reading NOW...
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SPOILER ALERT
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The next game is called Trail of the Twister and is set in Oklahoma. Ugh... I was a bit dismayed since that means that the game is based on The Mystery in Tornado Alley, which is set in my home state of Oklahoma and is one of my least favorite Nancy Drew books. I absolutely hate that book...

Why do I hate it? First, it is written very badly. It makes little sense and the plot has a thousand holes. It is stupid. I haven't read it since I read it years ago, and I hardly want to put myself through a bad experience in order to refresh my memory of the specifics. I will, however, mention the part of the book that I object to the most. I found an old post of mine to the Nancy Drew Sleuths group in which I answered the question of whether I felt that Nancy Drew had ever had a "jump the shark" moment.

Once again, be forewarned of spoiler information concerning a dreadful book that you probably don't want to read anyway...

SPOILER
I could mention several, but I would say the main one would be in Tornado Alley when Nancy is sucked into an F5 tornado while in a car, stays conscious while banging around in the car, decides to get out of the car, and is set gently on the ground uninjured and unhit by debris. It is not only stupid and unbelievable, but totally irresponsible of the author to write such utter garbage. I live in Central Oklahoma and was nearly hit (missed by half a mile) by the F5 Oklahoma City tornado of May 3, 1999. I have a healthy respect of tornadoes and what they can do.
I will elaborate a little bit. One cannot survive an F5 tornado without taking cover. The F5 tornado of May 3, 1999 killed more than 40 people. Nearly everyone took cover, which is why so few people were killed by a huge tornado with winds of 318 mph, and some of the people were killed in their homes while taking cover in closets or bathrooms. Many of the people who took cover under highway overpasses had hideous injuries such as losing an ear. It was not pretty.

I drove by a huge pile of mangled cars each day for months after the tornado while on the way to work. Those cars were twisted and torn like they had been in a horrific accident at a high rate of speed. There is no way that someone could have been in one of those cars and survived that kind of tornado, let alone been in full control of oneself and able to get out of the car (!) and land on the ground uninjured. Not only that, but Nancy's friends conveniently arrive right after the tornado passes, and they never check on the other person who was in the car with Nancy. They just leave assuming he is dead (!). If Nancy lived through it, then why couldn't he have lived? It turned out he was dead, but still... (!)

Just thinking about it brings back horrible memories of that book. I shudder.

The good news is that surely Her Interactive is changing up the story significantly like they have other recent games. I hope... I have this lingering worry that Her Interactive will have Nancy sucked into a tornado, etc. Ugh!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #33

SIGN OF THE TWISTED CANDLES - KEENE NANCY DREW MYSTERY Item #380162102798

This is the seller's picture:

Question: Hi there! I'm interested in purchasing this book. I was wondering if you could describe for me the endpapers inside the front cover - what the design looks like and what color it's printed in.

Answer: The endpapers are orange silhouettes on white. ONe side shows three girls and the other side shows Nancy with a magnifying glass following a trail with a house in the background. Thanks for your interest. Good luck!
This is another example of an unnecessary question. Notice the lower right corner of the book where the dust jacket is turned back. We can see that the dust jacket has the print on the reverse side, which means that the jacket is from the early 1930s. Anyone who has visited my Nancy Drew formats page knows that Twisted Candles was never printed in the blank endpapers format (only volumes 1-7 were). Since the jacket is from the early 1930s, the book must have orange silhouette endpapers. Notice that the book is thick and that a small amount of the orange writing can be seen on the cover. These are other clues.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More on Best Match

In my last post, I mentioned discrepancies in eBay's "best match" search. Today I was able to check the "best match" standing of a couple of listings from a seller who has had a low recent sell-through rate. Both listings were for collectible vintage Nancy Drew books, and both listings were fixed-price.

One of the listings was the #1 item on the "ending soonest" search and was set to close three minutes later. I quickly ran a "best match" search. I was unable to find the item in the top 1,000 results in "best match" before I ran out of time.

I next chose another listing from the same seller which was set to close 20 minutes later. This gave me a bit more time. This item had a "best match" ranking of between 2,200 and 2,400. How would anyone find it with "best match" search?

I wondered whether 30-day fixed-price listings fall down towards the bottom of the "best match" search results when they get closer to completion. I tried to test my theory, but I was not able to find a listing from the same seller which was new. I did find one that was listed four days ago. This listing had a "best match" rank of between 1,600 and 1,800, which was bad but better than the items that were close to completion.

It is now no mystery to me why this seller has had low sales.

I next checked a fixed-price listing from another seller and found that a listing that closes tomorrow has a ranking of approximately 2,200 in "best match" search. This was a different seller but the same result. Interesting...

My four auctions close in two days. I decided to go ahead and look for them in the "best match" search results. I was quite surprised to find that all four listings were ranked at about 300 in the "best match" search. I feel that this is quite high for listings that still have two days to go, and especially for someone like me who was not wanted by eBay one year ago. I assumed that eBay favored sellers who use eBay more. Since I no longer sell much on eBay, I thought my listings would be buried, but this is not the case. This proves that eBay is favoring auctions over fixed-price listings in search, just as they have stated.

The ranking of my items cannot be because of anything I have done. I have only sold two items in the last two months, so I do not have previous sales to give me a boost. I am not a top-rated seller. Since these lots contain multiple books, I used the shipping calculator to set my shipping at above $4.00. It does not look like I am getting penalized for having higher shipping, which I sort of expected. The placement of the listings has to be because of the auction format.

Personally, I would be peeved if I were listing a bunch of fixed-price listings and eBay were hiding them from everyone. No wonder so many of them are not selling.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Search Discrepancies on eBay

Those of you who still sell on eBay should not take offense when I mention your sales. I do not mention names, and I am not implying that you have done anything wrong. On the contrary, I am indignant that eBay is hiding your items in search. The "best-match" search truly is hiding items—at least some of them.

I ran a search last night for "Nancy Drew" under "best match" and "ending soonest." I did not have the luxury of checking the results for any seller whose sales are down, since I needed for those sellers to have listings about to close, but I did find a result for someone who is well-known in the series book collecting community.

This person's book was #4 on the "ending soonest" search. It closed approximately one hour after I ran my search. This seller is not top-rated. I checked the results for "best match" and was unable to locate the book in the first 1,400 results (!). I figured that I had proved my point by that time, so I did not check further. I used the browser "find" feature on a word from the title of the listing as I searched each page of results to make certain that I did not miss it. There is no way that a buyer would have found that particular book in "best match." By the way, it was a blue tweed Nancy Drew book with dust jacket, so it was definitely a book that was of interest to collectors.

I also noticed that the missing item was one that had "Buy It Now or Best Offer" enabled. At the time that I ran this particular search, I noticed that the auction listings were receiving prominent placement in "best match" while the ones with Buy It Now were either missing or way down the page.

I checked the search results again this afternoon, and I noticed that the Buy It Now listings were receiving about the same placement as the auction listings. The "best match" results seem to change from day to day. It is very odd. If I were selling all of my books on eBay, I would be very concerned about this. The reason why I am checking into it is because people have mentioned the discrepancies on various message boards, and I wanted to see for myself if their statements are true. Apparently they are.

Tonight, I ran another search and compared the results for "ending soonest" and "best match." Once again, I was able to quickly isolate a book that is to close in around 12 hours and is not showing in "best match." This time, I went through every page of results. I was unable to find the book in any of the 18 pages of results, or 3,514 items. That book is not showing in "best match" at all. Why?

I noticed that the book is from the same seller as the first book I mentioned from last night. I also noticed that the book is a "Buy It Now or Best Offer" item. Odd... Out of curiosity, I checked to see if that seller had any other copies of that Nancy Drew volume available. The seller had two others. The other two books were showing on page 18 of 18 under "best match" and were ranked at around 3,400 out of the 3,514 items. This is not good.

These books are all vintage, collectible Nancy Drew books that are of interest to collectors. They are buried in "best match" while dozens, maybe hundreds, of near worthless flashlight editions are ranked higher. "Best match" indeed...

I am amazed that this particular seller who has a long track record and good sales has books that eBay is hiding in "best match." I thought eBay liked sellers who sell a lot, so why is eBay hiding some of this seller's items?

I do actually have four bulk lots of Nancy Drew books on eBay right now. They are books that I do not care to sell on Bonanzle. The books are all in auctions with no Buy It Now. As they reach the final day, I'm going to be checking to see what the placement is in "best match" and "ending soonest." I suggest other sellers do the same with their listings as the listings near the closing time.
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In addition to the "best match" problems, eBay is messing around with the search results again. The store results have been placed back into the core search results for some lucky users like me. This was done in 2006 and resulted in auctions losing in popularity. When eBay realized the mistake, the store results were removed from core, but the damage had been done. Since 2006, auctions have been on a steady decline. For some reason, eBay has decided to place store results back in core in a test run. This means that our search results are cluttered with store items, and it is very hard to find anything for the larger searches. While the test search may positively affect eBay stores, it will negatively affect people who have paid higher fees for auctions and 30-day fixed price listings.

If you remove all of your eBay cookies, you may be able to get out of the test search. I tried it and was able to see the normal search results again. I do not know how long this test is set to run, but it is making large searches like "Nancy Drew" very hard to navigate.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #32

This is more of a case of seller confusion, but it is worth mentioning.

1931 NANCY DREW THE SECRET AT SHADOW RANCH Item #180405212444

In the description, the seller stated, "I BELIEVE THIS TO BE THE FIRST PRINTING SINCE THERE IS ONLY ONE DATE IN THE BOOK."

The seller is someone who, like many, believes that a single date proves that the book is the first printing. While this is true for many publishers, it is not true for Grosset and Dunlap. People do not realize that Grosset and Dunlap saved money by seldom changing the plates. Nearly all printings of all Nancy Drew books printed before 1985 only have one date on the copyright page. Just about every single book looks like a first printing to someone who thinks that a single date proves that a book is the first printing.
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In this case, a prospective buyer who is fully informed and owns a Farah's Guide wished to identify whether the book is the first printing in a more difficult method than was necessary.

VINTAGE NANCY DREW 1937 WHISPERING STATUE #14 First Ed. Item #120469851150

The listing included these photos in addition to many others.


The flaps of the jacket match the points for both the first and second printing dust jackets, which are identical. The book's points are needed to determine whether the book is the first or second printing, thus determining whether the book and jacket meet the points for the first or second printing.
Question: Your heading advertises this as a first ed first printing but your description says you aren't sure so this is a bit misleading to bidders. The only way to determine the difference between a first and second printing of this title is to show a pic of the actual book without the jacket. Thanks!

Answer: My own research indicates that this (and the other ND I currently have up) is a 1st edition. But I'm not a professional book seller, and want to make clear to prospective bidders that they should double check with reputable guide books. I'm not sure how showing the book without the DJ reveals anything more than all the many shots I've provided of the DJ (which contain the lists of books in both the NDrew series and other series and are used as indicators by Farah's and others), but will try to get a shot of the book without its DJ uploaded soon. Many thanks for your input.
First of all, I have a big pet peeve about the whole formats thing in Farah's Guide, and I absolutely cannot stand scrutinizing the boards of a Nancy Drew book and trying to figure out whether I am looking at a bunch of plus signs, wavy lines, slightly raised lines, slightly depressed lines, and all that rot. Sorry. I know why he mentions all that stuff, but I avoid it whenever I can determine a printing by some other, any other, means. Why would anyone go through that on purpose?

So... This is why it was unnecessary. The first printing book has the following post-text ads: ND#1-13, ML #1-6, and JB #1-9. The second printing book has the following post-text ads: ND #1-13, HBG (6), and ML #1-6. All that needed to be asked was whether the very last post-text ad page listed nine Judy Bolton titles ending in Mysterious Half Cat. Only the first printing book has that page as the last ad. That seems easier to me than trying to look at the boards from an eBay photo that has a reduced resolution.

Here is the picture of the book that the seller added in response to that question:


As much as I hate it, I will mention the format information for the boards of the book for the first and second printings. Farah states that the first printing book is Format 3 which has the cover stock texture of "moderately raised horizontal and vertical lines arranged in a weaving pattern." The second printing book is Format 4 which has the cover stock texture of "slightly raised rows of horizontally connected plus signs."

Um, okay. I hate this. It is really hard to tell from the photo, but I think I am seeing the Format 3 pattern. I had to get my first printing book off of the shelf to compare it to this one to make certain. Yes, this book has the Format 3 pattern, so it is the first printing. Wouldn't it have been easier to just look at the post-text ads?

Note: Since the questioner may be a reader of this blog, please try not to be offended as I seem to be offending quite a few people lately. This blog contains my opinions, and I abhor looking at the texture of the boards of Nancy Drew books. It raises the hackles, if you know what I mean. I realize that for reasons unknown to me, others might prefer to look at the boards when it makes me want to scream.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #31

Vintage Lot of 19 Nancy Drew & Hardy Boys HC Books Item #270447639838

This is the seller's picture:


The auction contained this information in the description:
1. The Scarlet Slipper Mystery 1954
2. The Mystery of The Ivory Charm 1936
3. The Clue of the Velvet Mask1953
4. The Clue in the Old Stagecoach 1960
5. The Mystery At The Moss-Covered Mansion 1941
6. The Haunted Showboat 1957
7. The Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk 1940
8. The Clue of the Black Keys 1951
9. The Haunted Bridge 1937
10. The Password to Larkspur Lane 1933
11. The Secret At Shadow Ranch 1931
12. The Ringmaster's Secret 1953
13. The Clue of the Leaning Chimney 1949
14. The Secret of the Old Clock 1930 (missing binder)
15. The Whispering Statue 1937 (has water damage on front, back, & binder)
16. The Secret of the Golden Pavilion 1959
17. The Hidden Window Mystery 1956
18. The Clue in the Diary 1932

Question: Do these all have 25 chapters (in particular, The Hidden Window)? Thanks.

Answer: All but 3 have 25 chapters including The Hidden Window has 25. The 3 that have only 20 chapters are The Clue in the Old Stagecoach, The Haunted Showboat, and The Secret of the Golden Pavilion.
As I have stated in the past, this type of question is often unnecessary. In this particular case, it was completely unnecessary. The seller provided a photo of the books and even gave the copyright dates. With the inclusion of the copyright dates, there is no doubt which books contained the original text.

All Nancy Drew books with a copyright date of 1956 or before must contain 25 chapters. All blue tweed Nancy Drew books must contain the original text with the exceptions of #1, 2, 3, 4, and 6. It is only necessary to ask about #1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 if the copyright date is not given. If the copyright date is given and is before 1956 (it will be 1930 or 1931), then those books must contain the original text. Of those books, this lot only contained #1, and the copyright date given was 1930, proving that the book has the original text.

The blue tweed books for #35 through 38 have copyrights after 1956 and contain just 20 chapters. However, those four books never had 25 chapters in the first place, so they contain the original text.

Of particular concern to the prospective buyer was whether Hidden Window contained the original text. Hidden Window was not revised under the 1970s when it was in the matte picture cover format. It is not possible for a tweed copy of Hidden Window to have anything other than the original text. The copyright date for the original text is 1956, so this is further proof that the book has the original text.

If prospective buyers have a handy list of the original copyright dates of Nancy Drew books, then it is always easy to determine whether the book has the original 25 chapter text. The book just has to have a copyright date of 1956 or before.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Does Best Match Hide Items?

The answer is "yes." People have been stating that this is true, and I have felt that it is likely true based on the examples people have given. I decided to check the veracity of their statements today.

I ran two searches for Nancy Drew in the Books category in different windows within seconds of each other (I did not want the extra clutter of all of the Her Interactive games.). I chose Nancy Drew because it is a search that returns thousands of items. The first search was "Best Match" and the second search was "ending soonest."

This was the very first item returned in the "ending soonest" search:

Mylar Covers Nancy Drew Hardy Boys Dana Judy Bolton

It was set to close six minutes after I ran the search, so it was the next item to close.

"Best Match" returned this item as the top result:

4 Nancy Drew SC Books #9 #145 #168 + Chapter Book #51

Notice that the seller of this second item is a top-rated seller. That item was set to close 27 minutes after I ran my search.

I had my search results set at 200 items per page. I checked the first 200 items in the "Best Match" search and did not find the listing for the mylar covers, in spite of the fact that it was just a few minutes before closing. I did not take the time to try to figure out how far down the mylar cover listing was in "Best Match," but I feel that a drop of more than 200 in rank is lethal to an item that is moments before closing. Historically, eBay has given a boost to items right before they close and still is for some items. Other items are never making it anywhere near the top. By the time a prospective buyer finishes looking at the first 200 items in the search, that listing would be closed.

I reloaded my results and noticed other discrepancies in which some items moments before closing were nowhere to be seen in "Best Match." This is why I can no longer sell all of my stuff on eBay. This game of eBay is distasteful.

I have noticed some very low auction results in the last week for some items. For instance, some larger lots of blue and tweed Nancy Drew books are selling at a total cost of $1.00 to $2.00 per book, which is quite low. At the same time, other sellers are getting results of $10.00 to $12.00 per blue or tweed book for comparable lots. In both cases, I refer to books that do not have dust jackets.

I think the low results are due to items that were buried in "Best Match" search. It would be nice if all buyers would use "ending soonest," but that is not the default, so many buyers use "Best Match" and fail to notice many good items.

Something really odd that has happened to me in the last month is that I have had multiple sellers put extra books in the packages when they pack the lots I have won. I think it has happened three times in the last month, and it usually happens no more than around once per year.

I had several lots arrive within days of each other, and I did not take the time to go through all of them. I did notice the extra books when I unpacked the books. I went through the books yesterday, and was able to figure out from where most of the books came. I was left with two very nice condition Dana Girls picture covers and an early Nancy Drew picture cover, and I cannot figure out who sent me those books. I went through my purchases for the last two months, looked at all of the pictures and read all of the descriptions. I cannot figure out where I got those three books. They are "mystery" books.

What I am wondering is whether it is getting so hard for some people to sell on eBay that they send extras along just to get rid of them. It is very strange.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

More on Billie Bradley Sun Dial Lodge

Boring! That is how I feel about the first half of the book. It is not until page 115 that the girls finally arrive at Sun Dial Lodge. The first half of the book should be called Billie Bradley Worries about Someone Else's Lost Treasure Chest for No Reason. The treasure was found in the previous volume and belongs to someone else. While Billie is supposed to receive a small share, it little matters if the treasure is lost.

In volume 1, Billie's treasure was important since it was the means for Billie to pay for her tuition to Three Towers Hall. When that treasure was stolen (naturally all treasure chests get stolen in Syndicate books), it was vitally important that Billie recover it.

Back to the current treasure chest: Why couldn't the treasure have disappeared near the end of the last volume and then been recovered? Why waste space in this volume with the lost treasure chest? I don't care about the dang treasure chest! It belongs to a man who barely appears in this volume. I mean, really?

The first 115 pages also covers the story of Mrs. Westlock, who is the old lady who was given money near the beginning of the story (see this post) I am just not feeling the story of Mrs. Westlock. She is a pitiful old woman, and she certainly needs help. Why don't I care? Maybe if she actually interacted with the young people, I would care. She is just there, kind of like the missing treasure chest that means nothing to me.

Ah yes, once the young people arrive at Sun Dial Lodge, the book redeems itself. Vi sees a shadow lurking behind a tree and thinks it might be a ghost. The others doubt her, but we readers know that the shadow must have been a very bad person. If I were reading Nancy Drew, I'd know the person must be swarthy.

The house is completely surrounded by trees, to the point that no sunlight shines through the open windows. This is spooky. The description of the herb garden reminds me so much of the description of the grounds of Heath Castle in the Nancy Drew book, The Clue in the Crumbling Wall. I'm liking this portion of the book very much. I like descriptions of overgrown gardens with winding paths. Why couldn't the whole book have been like this?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

eBay's Best Match 2.0 and Top-Rated Sellers

I am getting increasingly frustrated at eBay. Last week, eBay rolled out its second batch of changes for the year. OH NO... that stupid test search must have been the trial run for Best Match 2.0. I hate it. The Buy It Now icons are gone, so they are very hard to spot. Someone said they called eBay the other day, and the representative claimed the changes are here to stay. How is hiding the Buy It Now icon helping the item sell? Can someone explain that to me?

My next grievance is the stupid top-rated seller icon. That thing is HUGE. It also proclaims that those are the very best sellers, and as a buyer, I take this to mean that all sellers who do not have the icon are somehow inferior to the top-rated sellers and cannot be trusted. Additionally and possibly worst of all, buyers can now filter their searches to show only the top-rated sellers. For all of you sellers who are not top-rated, exactly how does that make you feel?

A few months ago, eBay sent me a message stating that I was on track to be a top-rated seller. My DSRs range from 4.9 to 5.0 and my seller dashboard says that I have no ones or twos, so I definitely qualify. However, I missed the cut, and I know why. It was originally implied that small sellers could qualify for top-rated seller status, but this is not true. I had more past sales still showing for the previous year a few months ago. As I continue to sell on Bonanzle instead of on eBay, my sales for the previous year are dropping off fast. I no longer qualify.

A bait and switch has been done by eBay. The power seller icons were retired and replaced by the top-rated seller icons. They mean exactly the same thing, except that not all power sellers qualify to be top-rated sellers. The top-rated seller icon is for an exclusive club of sellers—the cream of the crop power sellers plus those that eBay favors like Buy.com. You do know that eBay manipulates the feedback of large companies, don't you? What all of this means is that eBay has now angered many of its power sellers and all of its sellers who are not power sellers.

My seller dashboard says that I am "Above Standard," yet "Above Standard" has no impact on search ranking. Then what good is it? We either get top-rated seller status which boosts our listings in search, or we get told that we are all "Above Standard Sellers." Erik Andresen has created an image which sums up the situation nicely and has given permission for it to be shared across the internet.

The image speaks for itself.

As for those of us who are ASS sellers, this is what an eBay representative had to say about us (see this thread):
In order for us to be confident in identifying a seller as Top-rated, the seller must sell at least 100 items per year and sell at least $3k in merchandise.

There are many great sellers who sell less than that, eBay can't be confident enough to promote them, badge them, etc.
So I have to sell at least 100 items worth at least $3,000 in one year, or eBay has no confidence in my track record? What if I successfully sell 50 items and get all positives with no ones or twos? Apparently that is not good enough. They do only want high volume sellers.

I am so glad that I quit selling on eBay on January 1 (except for the occasional bulk item), since the situation has unfortunately grown quite worse.

By the way, I have reversed my opinion on the five free auction listings per month. I now think it is great, since I only intend to sell occasionally on eBay. My items are getting buried in search because I am not a top-rated (power) seller and because I have no recent sales. When I do list, it needs to be free because it won't sell since no one will notice it. I have to list multiple times before I get any takers. The final value fees are higher, but at least I don't pay for all of the unsuccessful listings.

I feel that I have around the same exposure on Bonanzle that I would have on eBay. I really do. I probably have less exposure on Bonanzle, but the way I see it, I have around the same exposure. My stuff is now hidden from buyers on eBay in a big giant mass of stuff, while on Bonanzle, I can actually get noticed. I like it.

Last, I feel that the best thing eBay has done this year is is to create the eBay Bucks program. Woo-hoo, I keep earning those bucks! I get my next certificate in a few days. Nice...

By the way, I could post lots of links here to all of the discussions about these latest changes, but it would be too much work. The idiocy of eBay management knows no bounds, and I have not mentioned everything. It appears that eBay wants to go to a bizarre feedback system in which buyers rate sellers on a scale of 1 to 10 based on whether they would recommend that seller to their family and friends (who in my case don't shop on eBay so I wouldn't be recommending anyone to them - ???). I can think of a number of specific instances in which I would not recommend a good seller to someone else, so that is just stupid. It would also be too hard to try to give a seller that kind of rating and be fair. If eBay goes to that system, I will probably never leave feedback again.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Do you own the first printing of Crossword Cipher?

Recently, Jenn Fisher asked me if I owned the first printing of the 44th Nancy Drew book, The Clue in the Crossword Cipher. I replied that I did not, and she shared that she does not own one either. We wondered why it is so hard to find.

I was reminded of this when I received a complete set of all 56 Nancy Drew picture covers. This set came from someone's collection. It contained nearly all first printing picture covers from #8 up through #56. #44 was one of the very few books that was the second printing instead of the first printing. I already had the third printing, so now I have both the second and third printings.

I find it very odd that the first printing is so elusive. Now I have an idea about this, but it is based upon what I think is the true scarcity of the first printing. I need to get an idea of how many other people actually own one.

I have created two polls. The first poll asks whether respondents own the first, second, or third printing of Crossword Cipher. The first printing of Crossword Cipher lists only to #42 on the back cover. Both the second and third printings list to #44, and I bet many people own a second or third printing and think they have the first printing.

The second printing of Crossword Cipher has no interior list, either pre-text or post-text. The third printing of Crossword Cipher has an interior post-text list of titles that ends with #43.

In my second poll, I ask which scarce picture cover printings are owned by the respondents. The list includes the $1 box editions, #7 with the 1932 text, #11 man with pipe 1934 and 1965 text variants, #41 with the tri-fold, #44 listing to #42 on the back cover, #49 with the yellow overlay on back cover, #55 first printing, and #56 first printing. That should cover the scarcest picture cover printings, aside from any unusual anomalies that have been mentioned in this blog but not documented in Farah's Guide.

This brings me to what I really think: I suspect that the first printing of Crossword Cipher is an anomaly and that possibly very few examples exist. I could be wrong, so I need to get an idea of how many people have one. I know it exists, since Farah's Guide has documented it. But was it really an entire print run as is suggested by Farah's Guide? I doubt it.

Crossword Cipher was published in 1967. Checking Farah's Guide, 1967 books tend to list to either #43 or #44 on the back cover. 1965 and 1966 books tend to list to #42. It is rather odd that the 1967 first printing of Crossword Cipher lists only to #42. This is why I think it might be an anomaly—perhaps it was a mistake or leftover back boards were used on some copies.

Aside from that, it will be interesting to see how many people own the other scarce picture printings, especially the ones that are regularly touted as so extremely RARE on eBay.

If you own one of the first three printings of Crossword Cipher or any of the scarce picture cover editions, I would really appreciate you taking the time to answer the polls.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Posts That Strike a Nerve

Since I have been ripped for being a vile, despicable person in a comment to my previous post, I thought I would post my response in a new post. Why not give it the attention it deserves? Here it is:

To respond to the first comment, I feel that the seller withheld the information on purpose, but I do not wish to be accused of defamation of character, so I waited to publish this post. I really do not wish to harm any seller, which brings me to the last comment...

Hmm...interesting that someone would take such offense at my comments. You aren't by any chance that seller are you? If not, then I was not speaking of you, and you had no reason to take offense.

Are you the seller who defrauded me? If not, then you had no reason to take offense.

Are you someone who packs badly, therefore allowing valuable, collectible books to get damaged? If not, then you had no reason to take offense.

Guess what? I have two lots for sale on eBay this week. I am an eBay seller (at least occasionally), yet I take no offense when people belittle eBay sellers. I know whether their comments refer to me.

As to enjoying watching the feedback crumble, I'm sorry you think I enjoy it. I have been defrauded by that seller of more than 30 dollars. I am not very happy about it. I don't know why someone would not understand how I feel when I have lost money, and more importantly, when I am not going to receive a purchase that I very much wanted to receive. I am a victim, just like when people are victims of crimes. Don't they want the perpetrators to be punished? I want my seller to be punished.

I meant the title of that post to be kind of humorous, but obviously you had to take it personally. Of course I am going to take interest in watching the feedback go down. Yes, I want retribution. I feel that bad sellers deserve bad feedback. I suppose that makes me a bad person.

It is a fact that in general sellers who sell series books on eBay at very low prices tend not to pay attention to detail. This does not make them bad sellers. It does provide me with some interesting content for this blog, which of course some people choose to take personally. There is nothing wrong with selling items for low prices. There is nothing wrong with packing badly, except that it stresses buyers out who want to receive their books in good condition. There is nothing wrong with defrauding buyers...no wait, there is. I don't care if this post makes more people angry. I just don't care.

P.S. I am not upset. I just find it amazing that people take offense at comments that are not intended in a mean-spirited fashion and are not aimed at them. If the shoe fits...

P.P.S. Just like on message boards, we tend to discuss the bad more than the good. The vast majority of my eBay transactions are flawless. I don't discuss them here because it would not be very interesting. Don't think for a minute that I think all eBay sellers are bad. 99% of my eBay transactions have been great. I have bought around 3,000 items on eBay in the past 12 1/2 years. I have been defrauded fewer than 10 times. While I have received hundreds of purchases that were packed badly, I have had fewer than two dozen purchases that were received damaged due to inferior packaging. Most transactions, and most sellers are great.

Anyone else want to have at it?

Failure to Fully Disclose Information

Too many sellers withhold information about their listings, some because they do not know better, and others on purpose. One such seller and listing are the subject of this post, and I have decided not to link to the listing. I also delayed publishing this post until I knew that the listing would not show in the completed items search, so that it would be much harder for the item to be found. I could be wrong about the seller's intent, so I'm playing it safe. The seller is not someone who normally sells series books.

The listing was for an early printing of The Clue in the Crumbling Wall with dust jacket. The seller stated that the book was a first edition in the title of the listing. The seller's picture showed that the back panel of the dust jacket lists the Beverly Gray series to Beverly Gray's Problem, so the dust jacket is definitely not the first printing dust jacket. Of course since the front flap lists to The Secret in the Old Attic, most buyers who do not have a Farah's Guide would assume that the book is the very first printing.

The seller received an informative comment from someone who was hoping to help the seller avoid a bad situation.
Question: According to Farah's Guide, the generally recognized authority of ND books, this is a 2nd -5th printing. The first printing shows Judy Bolton 1-15 titles on the back panel. The 2nd printing has a wartime conditions statement on the title page. The 2nd- 5th printings also list to Attic on the front flap with BG 1-13 on the back panel. Experienced collectors know this, but the novice lookers seem to take everything the seller says as 'gospel' and then don't exhibit any sense of humor, even over an honest mistake. It can be ugly. Good luck!

Answer: Hi, Thanks for the e-mail....according to my source (AbeBooks.com) this is the 2nd printing of the 1st edition. I use AbeBooks.com as my reference source for rare and out of print books. Thanks for your information.
The seller's response annoyed me tremendously. It sounds like the seller knew from the beginning that the book was not the first printing, but chose for whatever reason to leave that information out of the description. Not only that, it sounds to me like the seller thought that using "first edition" was all that mattered. Who cares which printing the book actually is? Gee, thanks.

If the seller had found through research that the book was the "2nd printing of the 1st edition," then why on earth did the seller not place that information in the listing?