Sunday, October 17, 2010

Nancy Drew First Printing Auctions Part 4

I was the buyer of the first printing Hidden Staircase mentioned in my previous post. First off, I want to make clear that the book is as disgusting as I knew it would be from the seller's pictures. This is why I am appalled that someone told that seller that his Old Clock book was worth $1,000.

These people quote huge values and gush to no end about how wonderful the books are even when the books are in horrible shape. If a book is trashed, then it is only worth a small fraction of the Farah's Guide value. I have to sell the Hidden Staircase book, and while I want to get as much as possible to offset my cost, I know I cannot get that much for it. I have quite a dilemma on how to price it.

The Farah's Guide value for the first printing Hidden Staircase book is $600. I figure mine is worth no more than 25% so maybe $150. However, that might be too high. My plan is to try to sell it and see what happens. Poor condition books that would otherwise be valuable are very difficult to price.

This is the Hidden Staircase jacket that I just purchased.


I am pairing this dust jacket with a Hidden Staircase first printing book that I've had for probably around eight or nine years. This is the book.

The book has spine slant and a scuff along the top edge, but it is in fantastic condition compared to the book that came with the dust jacket I just purchased.

This is the Hidden Staircase first printing dust jacket that I've had for 11 years.

Pretty horrific, right? However, it has been my pride and joy for 11 years, and I will actually regret to see it go. The stain on it is not a water stain but some type of chemical, and it came from a seller who sold old television parts. I have always wondered if this jacket and its book were in with old television parts. It came with a book that had the same chemical stain, and I sold the book many years ago.

I also have a great dilemma on how to price the partial first printing dust jacket. My gut feeling is that it should be priced at somewhere between $500 and $1,000. $500 is probably how I should go, but I am torn. These jackets rarely show up even in trashed condition.

I will most likely pair the horrible condition book I just purchased with this partial dust jacket and then put the combination up for sale. I may go with eBay in order to reach the greatest audience. My first attempt might be to try for around $1,000 just to see what happens. It can't hurt since my listing will be free. I can then lower the price gradually. I am very mindful of people buying to resell, and I would prefer for a book like this to go to someone who actually wants it.

I tend to think the value is roughly $500, but like I said, I will probably start at $1,000 and work my way down. I want as much as possible for the extra book and jacket to offset my high cost for the two books just purchased. People who are willing to settle for a poor condition dust jacket would never pay thousands for a nice condition dust jacket, so $500 may be the actual value. I'm okay if a few of you want to give your opinion.

8 comments:

Stephen Hutcheson said...

Some news, and a favor to ask.

News: the first "Penny Nichols" book has passed through four proofreading rounds at Distributed Proofreaders, and is now basically ready for final formatting. (Which is still a fair amount of work--all by one person--and so may not go quite as quickly.)

In the meantime, I hope to begin proofreading a second book this week. And our Halloween festivities will include proofreading the "Penny Parker" series titles with spooky titles.

If I had scans of the dust jackets, I'd include them with the Project Gutenberg edition.

May Project Gutenberg include your dust jacket scans with their e-texts? I would certainly include a credit line.

And (this is a separate question because unless you object, I would give credit for background research in any case) -- how would you like credit given?

This is really an offline kind of question, please feel free to contact me at gmail, I'm "Firstname.Lastname".

(I don't want to post links here, but I can give you a list of my e-text work to show bona fides.)

Stephen Hutcheson

Jennifer said...

I think it best that I answer this in public.

I do not own the copyright to the images in my scans, so I cannot give permission for them to be used. It could be that the artwork is in the public domain. Even so, I do not want anything to do with it.

I would feel very uncomfortable with any images from my website to be placed on Project Gutenberg. I am especially concerned because it seems that the people who place these old books up for sale in rather expensive softcover editions use the data from Project Gutenberg. It would then seem, as a result, that I would be providing the free images for people to then sell the books for profit.

If I were to give permission for my images to be placed on Project Gutenberg, then I would be giving permission for anybody to do anything with them. So, no, I absolutely do not want any images from my website to be placed anywhere outside of my website.

Stephen Hutcheson said...

Fair enough. Even in the distributed proofreading community, some of the "reselling" of PG editions is despised.

(Partly for that reason, I would have posted a down-sized image that would display well on a PDA or small monitor, but would not print well.)

I've been on the other side of this: my family was looking for reading-copies of some long-out-of-print fiction, and found them as reprinted PG editions--they were happy to pay the publisher a profit, just to have a book they could read. (But selling the e-texts anyone can download free, straight from PG, is just contemptible.)

And always, thanks for all the research--we get the benefit of it.

Jennifer said...

I find it rather interesting that all of my scans did indeed make it onto Project Gutenberg... for both the Penny Parker and Penny Nichols books. Additionally, the scans are now on Amazon.com for the Kindle edition of the same books. I notice that I did not receive credit as the original source for the scans from which others may now profit. Typical.

You didn't really need to ask, now did you? You were going to do it anyway.

Stephen Hutcheson said...

Just to set the record straight (although anyone can check the facts for themselves):

As for the Penny Nichols books at Project Gutenberg: there are no cover scans, from any source, on any of them. (As things turned out, three of the four were done by someone else--whose name is on them at PG if it matters. I had contacted him offering him the scans for the fourth book: he, in fact, only scans his own personal copies for any of his contributions to PG.

As for Penny Parker, the cover scans all came from Open Library--and from at least two distinct scanners, judging from image characteristics.

(Some, of them, at least, may well have originated with your scans--there was no attribution at OpenLibrary. What with image resizing and conversions, it would be very difficult to tell, unless there were some blemish in the scanned copy.

Just now I looked closely at the cover for "Tale of the Witch Doll" at series-books and at OpenLibrary, as well as Google image search. My initial impression was that they were different scans: but it may well be that nearly all of the based on one of your scans, resized and trimmed. Google search shows many similar scans (in all sorts of sizes)--the majority of them trimmed like the OpenLibrary scan. It may well be that all of them come from there.

I also prefer to get the blame and credit right. As for the blame of lifting the images without asking, I'd start with OpenLibrary--which may have a way to tell who uploaded a book cover ... or not.

And as for PG being a primary source of reprints: I searched Amazon for "Vanishing Houseboat", and in fact several publishers had picked up either HTML or ASCII text from Project Gutenberg and reprinted it. (I can tell they are PG editions, because, among other reasons, let's just say I did a bit of work on the front matter and, even though they both reworked the front matter extensively, I recognize some of what I did.)

But none of those publishers used the front cover from Project Gutenberg--they all came up with a cover recognizably distinct from both the OpenLibrary and SeriesBooks covers.

Interesting, no?

Gutenberg didn't take scans directly from your website--with or without attribution; and the republishers didn't take cover art from Project Gutenberg, with or without attribution.

I hope this is not just rubbing salt in a scabbed-over wound: but I personally would have liked to know what really happened.

Stephen Hutcheson said...

Just to follow up: I see some cover scans at Amazon that are not provided by the publisher, and (in the case of the Penny Nichols reprints) don't represent the new cover art.

I strongly suspect Amazon is pulling cover scans directly from OpenLibrary.

Jennifer said...

As for the Penny Nichols books at Project Gutenberg: there are no cover scans, from any source, on any of them.

All I know is that on January 2, 2011 when I wrote my above comment, scans of the Penny Nichols covers were indeed on Project Gutenberg and that they did indeed appear to be from my scans. Perhaps I was wrong about the source, but the Penny Nichols scans were on Project Gutenberg on that date. Why were they removed? Since the scans are no longer on Project Gutenberg, I cannot tell whether I was wrong about the source.

As for Penny Parker, the cover scans all came from Open Library--and from at least two distinct scanners, judging from image characteristics.

(Some, of them, at least, may well have originated with your scans--there was no attribution at OpenLibrary. What with image resizing and conversions, it would be very difficult to tell, unless there were some blemish in the scanned copy.


Except for two cases, it was not hard to tell. All you have to do is view my image next to the Project Gutenberg image.

I have just spent 30 minutes saving the Project Gutenberg Penny Parker scans to my computer, blowing them up, and comparing them side-by-side to my scans from my website. I then took notes.

In 13 of the 15 cases, I am 100% certain that the images on Project Gutenberg are sourced from my scans. Yes, they have been cropped along the left side, but they were sourced from my scans. Perhaps they were sourced indirectly from my site, but I can assure you that I found matching blemishes on 13 of the 15 scans.

Here is the list and my reasons:

Saboteurs on the Turnpike - whitish area in upper left matches

Behind the Green Door - pixelation patterns along left side are identical

Ghost Beyond the Gate - whitish area under "Beyond" is the same

Clock Strikes Thirteen - pixelation shadows are identical, same imperfections

Swamp Island - creases through title (shows up as white marks) are the same

Silken Ladder - white vertical shadow on left is same

Signal in the Dark - creases through title (shows up as white marks) are the same

Whispering Walls - creases through title (shows up as white marks) are the same

Danger at the Drawbridge - lighter around artist signature in lower right corner due to how I edited the image, same in both versions

Cry at Midnight - creases through "Stories" at the top match

Secret Pact - white vertical shadow in lower right is the same

Brass Thieves - slightly lighter area along right side of main illustrations and around artist signature due to how I edited the image, same in both versions

Hoofbeats on the Turnpike - several lighter purple splotches match exactly in both

These two may be from a different source:

Wishing Well - Almost has to be from another source because my image is *more cropped* at the top than the PG scan. Also, the image is much grainier than all of the above images.

Voice from the Cave - can't tell and is slightly grainier than images that are sourced from mine

For some reason, I can't find Tale of the Witch Doll or Vanishing Houseboat by any search method. If someone can provide a direct link, I would appreciate it.

let's just say I did a bit of work on the front matter and, even though they both reworked the front matter extensively, I recognize some of what I did.)

And for the same reason, I can recognize my scans. As I already stated, 13 of the 15 Penny Parker scans that I was able to locate are cropped from my original scans. Perhaps you weren't the person who did it, and the true culprit is whomever copied the scans to Open Library. I hope you understand that the end result is still the same. My scans are on Project Gutenberg, and I did not want them there.

Now that I have spent an entire hour on this topic, I want to put it to rest again.

Stephen Hutcheson said...

I defer completely to your analysis of the Penny Parker scans. It accords with my memory that most (but not all) the OpenLibrary covers seemed to be from one contributor--who, we now know, processed your cover scan in a standard way--crop and resize to a standard size.

I regret the pain this has caused. If I had had this analysis when I was preparing the Penny Parker books, I would not have used the OpenLibrary scans.